The government has launched a test and trace scheme to try and bring the outbreak under control, but tracers are concerned that the public will not follow government isolation orders after Dominic Cummings broke lockdown rules in March and April. Before curbing their own behaviour, member’s of the public will rightly ask whether if Boris Johnson’s chief aide would do so or whether he go an check his eyesight again at a local beauty spot?

The UK currently sits atop the ghoulish charts with the highest excess death-rate in the world. The government’s health response to the pandemic has been a deadly failure from the start, with the slow and disorganised shutdown in March, the lack of PPE for front-line staff, the continued lack of testing capacity, and the failure to protect care homes.

After nearly two months in lockdown, the Covid-19 infection rate and death-rate are slowing and now the government wants to start to reopen the country and get the economy moving again. There remain serious questions about the timing of this reopening, as the UK’s R0 is still worryingly close to one, but to try and keep new cases under control the government is launching its test and trace scheme, where tracers try and track down everyone an infected person has been in contact with and asks them to isolate and get a test.

Test and trace should be a positive way out of the crisis, with a similar scheme helped countries like South Korea stop the outbreak in its tracks in March and have kept their total deaths under 300. However, as with the lockdown the scheme’s success is entirely reliant upon public buy-in and a sense that the sacrifice of isolation will be worth it because we are all in this together. The problem for the government is that the Dominic Cummings scandal has crushed any notion that the rules apply equally to all. Trust is dead along with the nearly 60,000 people that have tragically lost their lives on this government’s watch.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has done a variety of press interviews introducing the test and trace scheme where he has called on the public to due their civic “duty”, but when pushed to answer for Cummings he squirms, deflects, or tries to laugh it off. The public is not laughing.

Dominic Cummings was apparently above the law during the lockdown, so would he isolate now if asked to by a government tracer? He says he was not been tested for Covid-19 when he drove to took a trip to Durham in March and April, so he will not know if he has immunity and so should isolate like anyone else if he comes into contact with somebody infected. Maybe when members of the public are asked who they have been in contact with they should say Mr Cummings and then we can all follow his lead.


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