IT should have come as no surprise to the Health Secretary and this Government that once we begin to open our society and economy, a rise in infections was to be expected. It has been six months since promises of delivering a reliable and ‘world-beating’ testing system were made by the Prime Minister.

Thanks to the hard work of local public health teams as well as the collective effort of residents and businesses, the public risk in York remains low. However, it is clear that the testing system is lacking adequate capacity.

By working together with public health colleagues and key partners we have developed a thorough Outbreak Management Plan and continue to work with the city’s Higher and Further Education settings ahead of students returning to York in the next few weeks.

We need a fit for purpose test and trace that doesn’t require 100-mile journeys or weeks of waiting to receive results.

We have written to the Health Secretary several times now to highlight the lack of adequate laboratory capacity to carry out the testing required to monitor case numbers, which is essential to reducing the spread of the virus. It is clear that there are major flaws within the testing system, and these must be addressed as a matter of the utmost priority.

Whilst we are working hard locally, as we enter, what will be a particularly difficult winter for the NHS, the Government must set out a clear plan, which will guarantee that our testing system will be able to cope.

Until then, we can all do our bit by following public health advice on social distancing, wearing face coverings, practicing good hand hygiene and self-isolating if we have any symptoms.

Cllr Keith Aspden

Leader, City of York Council

Cllr Carol Runciman

Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care