Public Health: Coronavirus Regulations

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:05 pm on 13th October 2020.

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Photo of Claudia Webbe Claudia Webbe Labour, Leicester East 5:05 pm, 13th October 2020

It is hard to follow such optimism. I would begin by saying that the Government have lost control of the coronavirus, but that would not be entirely accurate, because at every step of this crisis, from a nonsensical herd immunity strategy to the initial lockdown delay, equipment shortages, care home neglect, contradictory messaging, a privatised testing crisis and much more, the Government have failed to adequately protect our communities.

My constituency of Leicester East has been in lockdown, or under significant restrictive measures, whether we call it tier 3, as it was then, or tier 2, as it is now, for over 100 days—to be precise, 106—at great cost to livelihoods, our businesses, our collective wellbeing and our mental and physical health. The Government are failing on lives and livelihoods. I therefore do not believe that they have ever had this virus under control, and I fear that the measures introduced this week will not be enough.

This catastrophe was not inevitable. Across the world, countries from New Zealand to China are returning to normality. I hope that you will forgive me, Mr Deputy Speaker, for saying that no city has borne a greater brunt of the Government’s failed approach than Leicester. Sadly, the Government have wasted the sacrifices of the British people, as we are now in a similar position to where we were in March. They spent £12 billion on a failed test and trace programme, which prioritises the enrichment of private corporations over the protection of our communities.

Rather than trust local health experts and the public sector, the Government have outsourced responsibility to corporate giants, which have consistently failed, with unacceptable contract rates as low as 50% or lower. My home city of Leicester is a prime example of the contrasting success of an underfunded local public health-led trace system. The success rate for our contact system is over 85%. The wasteful experiment of the private sector in our test and trace system must end.

It should be simple: if someone is contacted by NHS Test and Trace they must be provided with the material means to isolate. It does not matter what rules are set if no one in government is taking these matters seriously and if they are interpreting the rules to suit their own interests. The Government are not even following the advice of their own scientists, who make it clear what needs to be done to put the health of the nation first and protect lives.