EMMA LEWELL-BUCK: Government’s reckless handling of coronavirus has cost lives and livelihoods

I understand many of you will be feeling worried and anxious right now over the rise of coronavirus cases in South Shields and across the Borough. But I also know that we are a community that really does care about each other and that by all following the guidance we can stem this tide.

Thursday, 10th September 2020, 12:00 am
Health Secretary Matt Hancock and the Tory government are under fire for handling of coronavirus pandemic.

Unlike other areas we saw a sharp rise in our infection rates over a short period of time, as of last Friday this was 68 cases over the preceding seven days. It is true, as is consistent with other countries who have eased lockdown that most of these numbers were among those in their late teens, early 20s and 30s.

Whilst the increases are believed to come from people visiting bars, restaurants and home gatherings as, yet we don’t have the full detailed picture. Additional contact tracing undertaken over the weekend should give us a more detailed analysis soon.

What we do know is that these increases are not simply because of people being tested more because the percentage of tests delivering positive results is rising too. Discounting these rises because hospital admissions are down is an unhelpful analysis as there is always a lag between positive results and hospitalisation. Similarly, we have seen elsewhere that younger people are less likely to need hospitalisation. The main worry is that we are dealing with an invisible virus that can be passed on by anyone, to anyone, it doesn’t discriminate, and it kills.

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With numbers rising across the country the Health Secretary has gone to pains this week to divide communities and criticise MPs who legitimately hold him to account. He has tried to pit the old against the young and has blamed the shambles over testing on people unnecessarily requesting one. These blatant attempts to shift focus are so transparent they are fooling no one. The Government’s reckless handling of coronavirus, from late lockdown to 100-mile round trips for testing and continued confused messaging released late at night has cost lives and Livelihoods.

I am meeting with the Health Secretary soon, after a heated exchange this week in the House where I will continue to fight our corner and press for more local and targeted resources. I want us to avoid another lockdown, but if it happens, we need the right resources and we need to make sure any lockdown scenario doesn’t mean blanket closures across the board.

South Shields is my home; we have lost too many to people to this awful virus. I visit our shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and entertainment venues on a regular basis. I have seen nothing but hardworking owners and staff sticking to the rules, protecting their customers and keeping all of us safe. They need our support, they need us all to follow the rules, if they close their doors again it could be permanent. My plea to all of you is please if you can wear a mask do, keep washing your hands and keep to social distancing.