Mr. Raab, a Conservative politician chosen for the Cabinet mainly for his staunch pro-Brexit views, cannot hope to exercise Mr. Johnson’s authority. He is surrounded by ambitious colleagues like Matt Hancock, the health secretary, and Rishi Sunak, the chancellor of the Exchequer, whose departments are more deeply involved in the pandemic response than the Foreign Office he oversees.
Britain’s testing record has come under the harshest scrutiny. The country got off to a slow start and it continues to test only hospitalized patients, doctors and nurses, and more recently, people who work in nursing homes.
Mr. Hancock pledged to increase the number of tests to 100,000 a day by the end of the month, but Britain is still testing less than a fifth of that number. The government said it currently had the capacity to conduct 35,000 tests a day, but only 16,000 people showed up to get tested on the last day for which numbers are available. The government attributed the shortfall to the Easter holiday weekend.
“They say they’re going to do more testing, but I don’t see any evidence,” said Dr. Bharat Pankhania, an expert in infectious diseases at the University of Exeter Medical School. “We didn’t work hard enough to begin with, we didn’t work hard subsequently, and we haven’t worked hard enough during the shutdown.”
For Britain to relax the restrictions, he and other experts said, the government would need to organize an aggressive program of testing and contact tracing for the general population. Officials have said they plan to expand the eligibility for testing but have yet to introduce or even commit to such a program.
The lack of planning is drawing criticism from some of the government’s most influential outside advisers. Prof. Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College who is on the government’s scientific advisory council, said Britain had put more effort into planning for Brexit than for responding to the coronavirus.