The UK government looks set to miss another target during the Covid-19 crisis with a senior minister revealing that just 1,500 people have been hired as part of it’s campaign to recruit 18,000 contact tracers, prompting anger.

In an interview with Sky News on Friday, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis admitted the UK government was nowhere near hitting its target – 18,000 Covid-19 contact tracers by the middle of May – in a bid to track the spread of the deadly virus.

As of this morning, I’m not sure exactly how many of the 15,000 have been hired. Earlier in the week, it was about 1,500. It would have gone up since then.

Northern Ireland Sec @BrandonLewis says the government had hired 1,500 contact tracers by the start of this week – adding there have been 15,000 applications.The government had aimed to hire 18,000 by the middle of May. #Breakfast#COVID19 latest:

On April 23, Health Secretary Matt Hancock confidently asserted that the government wanted to recruit thousands of contact tracers in time for the rollout of the promised NHS tracing app that is currently being trialed on the Isle of Wight. 

However, the shortage of contact tracers could slow the delivery of the smartphone app that Hancock also promised would be ready by the middle of May.

The admission from Lewis has provoked widespread anger on social media, with many people voicing their frustration at another example of the UK government’s sluggish response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

One commenter branded Johnson’s government a “Cabinet of Incompetents” for seemingly failing to “meet another target.” Another labeled it “the slow slow slow Government.”

Others suggested that Lewis was “stretching incredulity to the limit,” insisting that “the government should be ashamed.”

During a daily briefing on Tuesday, PM Boris Johnson’s spokesman told journalists: “We are confident that we will have 18,000 staff available from the week commencing May 18.”

PM Boris Johnson’s administration has been dogged by accusations of failing to provide adequate personal protection equipment (PPE) and Covid-19 testing for health and social care workers.

Tory MPs crowed when Hancock announced that the 100,000 tests-a-day target had been reached by the end of April, only for it to be revealed that 40,000 of the total count included testing kits merely sent out in the post – before the results had been sent for diagnostic testing or the kits had even reached recipients.

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