(Reuters) – The coronavirus induced lockdown in England should not be further lifted until the government’s contact-tracing system proves to be “robust and effective”, the World Health Organization’s regional European director Hans Kluge said.
In an interview bit.ly/2MYn0hK with the Guardian newspaper, Kluge also cautioned that Britain remained in a “very active phase of the pandemic” and warned against rushing into reopening the economy.
Britain said on Sunday it was reviewing its two-metre (6.5-foot) social distancing rule ahead of the next stage of lockdown easing planned for July 4.
England’s test and trace system identified nearly 32,000 people who had been in close contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19 in its first week of operation, but the government admitted that the system is not perfect and would need to do better.
“Contact tracing is key especially as the UK starts to relax the social and physical distancing measures. There has to be a robust track-and-trace system in place of operation,” Kluge told the Guardian.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government, which has faced heavy criticism for its handling of the pandemic, has touted the system as the way to ease lockdown measures while keeping the coronavirus spread in check.
Britain has reported 41,698 coronavirus-related deaths as of 1600 GMT on June 13, third highest in the world after the United States and Brazil, according to government data.
Reporting by Bhargav Acharya in Bengaluru; Editing by Gareth Jones and Bill Berkrot