A Labour MP threw her hands in the air in frustration at Matt Hancock’s bizarre reply to questions about his Covid-19 testing spreadsheet chaos.
Earlier, Mr Hancock admitted a spreadsheet blunder that stopped almost 16,000 coronavirus cases being recorded in England – delaying contact tracing efforts – should never have happened.
But when Labour’s Stella Creasy suggested the companies responsible for the foul-up be held to account for losing a week of progress in the battle against the disease, Mr Hancock was downright dismissive.
He replied: “I think it is wrong, constantly to be picking on the small number of the many, many cogs in the wheel that we have of this system.”
And he suggested Ms Creasy was unreasonable to even ask the question, saying: “She’s normally incredibly reasonable and sensible.”
Writing on Twitter, Ms Creasy said: “Hmm – Matt Hancock [tells] me that I’m not being “sensible” asking why he failed to put any penalty clauses for poor performance in the contracts with private companies to run test and trace.
“After today’s news I think he needs a new dictionary to learn what that word means.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he had spoken to Health Secretary Matt Hancock alongside regional mayors from across England and claimed the test and trace system was “letting London and the country down”.
He said: “The delay in reporting nearly 16,000 cases and the tracking of their close contacts is the latest debacle from the Government’s disastrous test and trace system.”
He added: “London is at a very serious tipping point and with cases rising it’s essential that we have an accurate picture of the number of cases, and that their contacts are urgently told to self-isolate.
“Today I spoke to the Health Secretary, alongside mayors from across the country, and reminded him that a fully functioning test, trace and isolate system is the only way we will get a grip on this virus, prevent a further lockdown and be able to protect our economy.
“The litany of problems and failures with the system is letting London and the country down.”
Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, Dan Jarvis, said: “If we are going to see further lockdown restrictions introduced in the north, they must sit alongside additional support for our economy, to protect jobs, businesses and self-employed workers.
“Otherwise we risk seeing viable businesses disappear from our high streets, towns and cities. We also need a clear strategy of how we exit local restrictions and a sound plan to begin the task of economic recovery and renewal.”