Public Health: Coronavirus Regulations

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:24 pm on 13th October 2020.

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Photo of Steve McCabe Steve McCabe Labour, Birmingham, Selly Oak 5:24 pm, 13th October 2020

I would love to have been a fly on the wall during the discussions that have just taken place, because I have yet to hear from a west midlands council leader or a mayor who supports the decisions that were arrived at, and there seems to be little evidence to support the tier 2 decision. I am told that contact tracing shows that hospitality is probably responsible for about 2% of contacts in Birmingham, and I do not quite get it. Giving pubs 48 hours’ notice of the plan shows indifference to the pressure that those people are under and the jobs that are at risk.

I want to mention two things on testing. One of my constituents told me she had developed symptoms and got a test at the local walk-in centre on 1 October. Seven days later, no results, so she ordered a home test and sent it off. Then someone at 119 advised that, because she was tested more than seven days ago, they could not give her the results, and 12 days later, no test results at all. Her husband is ill in hospital and she cannot visit until she has a negative test. Why are we doing this to her?

Another constituent received a text at 6 am on Sunday morning with the name, date of birth and covid test result for someone they have never met or heard of. The test results were negative, but I have no idea whether the person who actually took the test knows that. I have raised this matter urgently with NHS Track and Trace, but frankly, I am sceptical about getting any kind of suitable reply. My constituent has never had a covid test. How on earth has this happened, and how many other people’s results have been sent to the wrong person? World-beating—we would settle for something that simply worked.

I have two final observations. First, why are Ministers continuing to tell people that it will be okay by Christmas? What kind of signal are they sending people at this time? Do they mean it will be okay by Christmas and then terrible in the new year? Is that what they are planning to do? Finally, I would really like to know why we did not give council leaders the option of a two-week circuit break, as was suggested by the officials. Would that not have been a much better deal for many of the people in my constituency and in many other constituencies around the country than the ridiculous proposals that have now been imposed on them?