Mr Blair warned that the Government is easing the lockdown restrictions when coronavirus figures levels remain “stubbornly high.” He added that lifting restrictions is additional to having implemented the best containment plan of action, but he warned: “We don’t have it.”
Mr Blair said there should mass testing in place with laboratory-based tests as well as rapid, on-the-spot tests.
He said the UK should be using both antigen and antibody tests – “which will allow us to test the bulk of the population and do so, if necessary, regularly.”
His think tank, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, revealed a study that shows the UK’s testing efforts are largely focused around laboratory-based test for people who present symptoms and key workers.
Mr Blair said the Government should “shift at speed” to establishing a mass testing scheme, instead of sticking to targeted and controlled testing.
Tony Blair has pointed out the one key way Britain can keep coronavirus ‘in check’
The study states: “The prevalence of the virus means that mass testing is required to continue to screen a high proportion of the population, identifying cases to keep the disease in check and to help large numbers of people make informed decisions about how they should behave based on their disease status.
“The current approach places a high dependence on a track and trace model that is neither fully ready, nor workable in the absence of mass testing. The two must work together for the population to safely engage with the easing of lockdown measures.
“For example, rather than relying on identified contacts self-isolating for 14 days without testing, a mass testing regime would mean that a test would be available once someone is informed that they have come into contact with a Covid-19-positive patient.
“There are concerns that early tests may not pick up the virus – but under mass testing not only are tests available for all regardless of symptoms but there could also be scope for a contacted citizen to take two tests, seven days apart, and if both returned negative, the individual would be eligible to exit self-isolation early.
Former prime minister Tony Blair has said a mass testing program should be in place
“This differs from the current requirement to self-isolate without being tested unless symptoms develop.”
The institute advises that people’s tests results are made available within 24 hours.
It also recommends testing anyone who has been in contact with someone who has already tested positive for the virus, whether or not they present symptoms.
Additionally, it advises that a “sizeable part of the population” is tested so that those who are proved immune can be ruled out from further testing.
It claims frontline healthcare workers should be tested weekly “at the minimum.”
Travel 2020: Global tourism to suffer ‘crushing blow’ [REVEALED]Royal warning: ‘Prince Andrew should be seen as little as possible’ [INSIGHT]US in jeopardy: Trump warned riots to kindle second COVID wave [UPDATES]
UK stages of easing lockdown
Of the study’s findings, Mr Blair said: “In the report we show how the Government has effectively abandoned pillars 3 and 5 of its original mass testing strategy and reverted to targeted testing reliant on lab-based tests for restricted categories of people.
“We believe this is an error with potentially serious consequences. It will make it harder to give people confidence to return to some form of normality.
“Harder for business to operate. Harder for people to travel. Harder to do track and trace properly. And much harder to contain any resurgence of the disease in the coming weeks or in the autumn and winter when such a resurgence would have a devastating impact on confidence and the economy.
“Instead we set out how the Government can enact mass testing using not only all available lab space for more lab-based tests; but crucially how we combine these with rapid on-the-spot tests – both antigen and antibody – which will allow us to test the bulk of the population and do so, if necessary, regularly.”
Mr Blair said the Government should ‘shift at speed’ to establishing a mass testing scheme
In April Mr Blair spoke about the criticism the Prime Minister and his team received over their response to the pandemic, commenting that it “is a hellishly difficult challenge, there’s never been anything like it.”
He added: ”It will be very easy to come along in hindsight and say, ‘Well you could have done this and you could have done that.’
“That will happen, by the way, whether I think it should happen or not.
“But I just think it’s important…right now it shouldn’t be the focus of our attention.
“The focus of our attention should be to make sure that the next phase of this, which is the controlled, managed revival of the economy, happens in the best way possible.”
Published at Fri, 05 Jun 2020 03:43:00 +0000