UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday said that a programme to track and trace those suspected of having been in contact with people who have tested positive for COVID-19 would be in place by June 1.

It hopes the commitment can also pave the way for the reopening of schools for some younger children.

PM Johnson made the contact-tracing pledge after more criticism of his government’s failure to have a national system in place for the past 10 weeks. Being able to track the contacts of those who have contracted the virus is considered a central plank of the government’s plan to ease further lockdown restrictions.

 

The UK leader further added, “We’re making fast progress in testing and tracing and I have great confidence that by June 1 we will have a system that will enable us, that will help us very greatly to defeat this disease and move the country forward.

Johnson also said that there will be 25,000 trackers in place who will be able to trace the contacts of 10,000 new cases a day, which is significantly more than the current level of 2,400 daily infections.

Earlier, he has denied reports that the government would be freezing public sector workers pay as part of a string of measures to foot the coronavirus bill.

He said the government was looking at spending heavily on infrastructure as Britain exits the restrictions and believes the pandemic could be a “springboard for ambitions”.

In response to more criticism of the government from Keir Starmer, the leader of the main opposition Labour Party, Johnson lambasted the government for having no effective tracing in place since March 12 when he said widespread tracing was effectively abandoned. Starmer said this has been a huge hole in the country’s defense against the coronavirus.

In an attempt to normalize the return to work now that the rate of infection is falling, the government also said it was looking to get lawmakers back to Parliament on June 2.

On May 10, PM Johnson said that he could begin to ease a nationwide coronavirus lockdown in the coming days, but warned he would do nothing that would risk a new surge of cases.

Speaking in parliament for the first time since he himself was hospitalised with coronavirus, Johnson said the government would review the data and he would set out the next steps.

The country is now the third-most affected in the world behind the United States and Italy on cumulative deaths, after changing its reporting to include community as well as hospital deaths.

UK has reported 248,293 COVID-19 cases so far while, 35,704 people have died from the deadly disease.