Munira Wilson: Ministers are burying their heads in the sand over rising Covid cases

The Liberal Democrats have demanded that the Government hold an emergency SAGE meeting to discuss surging Covid cases, and what measures may be needed to curb infections and protect the NHS and schools this winter.

It comes as it emerges that Government scientists have not met to discuss Covid for weeks and cases are running at nearly 50,000 a day.

Health Spokesperson, Munira Wilson MP said:

Covid cases are surging and millions of vulnerable people are yet to receive their booster jabs, yet ministers are burying their heads in the sand.

The Government cannot simply ignore the scientific advice and act as though this pandemic is over.

Boris Johnson must call an emergency meeting of SAGE, resume weekly meetings and follow the expert advice provided on how to protect the NHS and keep schools open this winter.

We cannot risk a fourth wave because the Prime Minister refuses to learn the lessons from the terrible mistakes throughout this pandemic.

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22 Comments

  • Lorenzo Cherin 20th Oct '21 - 2:34pm

    This is all good, but not in this or any context enough!

    Covid can and ought to, be beaten! It means reduction in cases to that point where it does not mutate and nothing about it is at levels as of where we are now!

    Masks, compulsory in shops, on transport, home working the norm for offices and call based centres, vaccines for kids dealt with , distance learning , for universities, and social distancing the done thing, rather than done that, and no more!

    We have the worst rates anywhere!

    Lib Dems need to access the Mill in them!

    Stop pussyfooting!

  • Paul Murray 20th Oct '21 - 3:09pm

    As I have commented before, I am amazed at the lack of mask wearing in crowded, enclosed public spaces. For example, last Saturday I took a crowded train to a football match. About 50% of people were wearing masks. After the match I went on to Tate Modern to see the Rodin exhibition. About 25% of people were wearing masks. I then went home on a train that picked up hundreds of race-goers from Ascot. Not one of them was wearing a mask. This went to a replacement bus service. On a bus that was literally packed so tight that it could not fit another passenger on board, I was the only person wearing a mask.

    I was pleasantly surprised that the LTF test I took today at work was negative.

    Why are people from all social groups, age ranges, political persuasions etc not taking the simple step of wearing a face covering to prevent the spread of covid? In my opinion it is because they are taking their cue from the government’s stated position of not having a position.

    So what *exactly* do the Liberal Democrats propose, because the message in the piece above seems vague at best.

  • Peter Martin 20th Oct '21 - 3:28pm

    “So what *exactly* do the Liberal Democrats propose?”

    Good question!

    Not Covid passports it would appear. Yet this would be the single most effective way of encouraging those who have so far remained unvaccinated to do the right thing and get that jab.

    Let’s make life as difficult as possible for the ‘refuseniks’. They are the real problem at the moment.

  • John Marriott 20th Oct '21 - 3:44pm

    Given the fact that, of the four U.K. ‘nations’, England appears to be the only one relaxing rules on face coverings etc, it might be interesting to compare infection rates, hospitalisations and deaths between them to see if things are worse in England than elsewhere.

    Sorry, Lorenzo, Covid will not be “beaten”. Controlled, maybe. Get used to it, old chap. It’s here to stay in one form or another. What we have to make sure of is that none of its near relations find their way across the species barrier in future.

    The reason, Paul, why, given a choice, many people are failing to take simple precautions against Covid is a combination of ignorance, hubris and laziness, all of which are still being displayed in the House of Commons every time the chamber is full. Just compare the two sides to see who are still regularly wearing face masks! It’s certainly not the government benches.

  • Barry Lofty 20th Oct '21 - 3:52pm

    I hope that the government and those advising them will at last take heed of what has slowly but surely been happening over recent weeks with the increase in Covid cases and the deaths related to that increase, reports of the pressure on our hospitals and social services have been widely reported and we have not even entered the worst time of year yet for hospital admissions. Perhaps the government has it’s mind elsewhere at the moment but it needs to act sooner rather than later on Covid or we will all end up back where we started and I am sure none of us want that, yes and a much more stringent message on mask wearing would be a start.

  • Brad Barrows 20th Oct '21 - 3:58pm

    Interesting to read the debate in England. In Scotland we still require face-coverings in shops, public buildings, public transport and in secondary schools, and Vaccine Passports are now required to enter nightclubs and attend football matches. Vaccination rates are ahead of the UK, with 92.3% of those over 18 having had one dose and 87.1% having had two doses. Meanwhile 74.2% of 16/17 year olds and 48.8% of 12-15 year olds have now had one dose. Cases may be lower than 6 weeks ago but need to fall further.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 20th Oct '21 - 4:12pm

    Paul

    Well said! It is absurd.

    John

    I said, can and ought to be beaten. Then I explain my view of beaten , and it means reduced to such low numbers as to not mutate. Please read it John, I accept some of your approach, realistic, yes, but we can do far more! I do not accept this virus is unbeatable if we did it throughout our shared world!

  • Nonconformistradical 20th Oct '21 - 4:23pm

    @Lorenzo Cherin
    “I explain my view of beaten , and it means reduced to such low numbers as to not mutate.”
    There must always be a chance that one of the remaining occurrences of the virus will mutate into something nasty – maybe much more transmissible that the variants seen so far. And if it is very transmissible lots of copies might form in a short time. There might be very many copies in existence before humans realise it’s another Covid problem.

    Humans’ chances of outwitting Nature are not great in my view.

  • Barry Lofty 20th Oct '21 - 4:36pm

    [email protected]” Humans chances of outwitting nature are not great” sadly you are probably right but it does not make sense to give it a head start!

  • John Marriott 20th Oct ’21 – 3:44pm:
    Given the fact that, of the four U.K. ‘nations’, England appears to be the only one relaxing rules on face coverings etc, it might be interesting to compare infection rates, hospitalisations and deaths between them to see if things are worse in England than elsewhere.

    They’re not…

    ‘Coronavirus (COVID-19) latest insights’:
    https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/conditionsanddiseases/articles/coronaviruscovid19/latestinsights#cis

    1 million people in UK countries had COVID-19 in the latest week
    […]

    The estimated percentage of people living in private households (not in hospitals, care homes and/or other communal establishments) that had COVID-19 in the week ending 9 October 2021 was:

    1.63% in England (1 in 60 people), compared with 1.44% (1 in 70 people) the week before

    2.18% in Wales (1 in 45 people), compared with 1.87% (1 in 55 people) the week before

    0.82% in Northern Ireland (1 in 120 people), compared with 0.79% (1 in 130 people) the week before

    1.26% in Scotland (1 in 80 people), compared with 1.61% (1 in 60 people), the week before

    More details from Dr. John Campbell…

    ‘Where is herd immunity?’ [15th. October 2021]:

  • Nonconformistradical 20th Oct '21 - 4:54pm

    @Barry Lofty
    “sadly you are probably right but it does not make sense to give it a head start!”
    Couldn’t agree with you more!

    I’m still putting a mask on when I go into a shop etc. and if they’ve got hand sanitiser I’ll use it.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 20th Oct '21 - 5:08pm

    Nonconformist

    You are radical and sensible, agreed!

  • John Marriott 20th Oct '21 - 6:06pm

    @Lorenzo Cherin
    I quote; “Covid can and ought to, be beaten”. As I have written before, your interpretation of English is not mine. In by book Covid cannot be “beaten”, however you wish to define the verb. “Controlled”, yes. “Eradicated”, no. It’s in the system, like flu and the common cold. It’s clever; it can adapt and needs to be kept an eye on. This isn’t smallpox, unfortunately, which we have clearly “beaten”. Unfortunately, if the world isn’t careful, Covid could easily get out of hand again, as is potentially the case here in England. According to our new resident statistician, ‘Jeff’, it would appear that the measures currently in force in Scotland appear to be having a positive effect. So, why not adopt them here? Oh, I forgot. That would mean admitting that Ms Sturgeon might actually have got something right!

    I’m still being ‘nonconformist’ and am quite ‘radical’ when it comes to wearing face masks and using hand sanitiser like someone else we know!

  • Lorenzo Cherin 20th Oct ’21 – 2:34pm:
    Covid can and ought to, be beaten!

    That’s unrealistic for the Delta variant using current vaccines which only have a moderate efficacy for protection against infection (typically 50% or less after a few months) unless there is a lot of natural immunity from previous infections in addition. Even those countries, such as Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan, which adopted an elimination strategy, have not been able to keep the Delta variant out.

    It means reduction in cases to that point where it does not mutate…

    The virus mutates on average every second infection. Almost all such mutations confer no advantage to the virus; rarely a mutation has occurred that enables the virus to be more infectious. UK infections only represent a small percentage of worldwide infections so are unlikely to be of any significance.

    We have the worst rates anywhere!

    There are several countries that have higher rates than the UK. The UK conducts far more extensive testing than most other countries so we are likely to record a much higher percentage of actual infections. Currently, the Delta wave is sweeping across eastern Europe and the Baltic states…

    ‘Daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people’:
    https://ourworldindata.org/explorers/coronavirus-data-explorer?zoomToSelection=true&facet=none&pickerSort=desc&pickerMetric=new_cases_smoothed_per_million&Metric=Confirmed+cases&Interval=7-day+rolling+average&Relative+to+Population=true&Align+outbreaks=false&country=GBR~LVA~LTU~EST~ROU

    Expect to see rates rise elsewhere as vaccine efficacy against infection wanes and average vitamin D levels fall in the northern hemisphere as we move through autumn into winter.

    Masks, compulsory in shops, on transport, home working the norm for offices and call based centres, vaccines for kids dealt with, distance learning, for universities, and social distancing the done thing,..

    Those measures would likely just postpone many infections into winter. The worse outcome would be having large numbers of people co-infected with both Covid and flu – a potentially deadly combination. There is an advantage in having the virus spread amongst the vaccinated and young now in order to obtain community (‘herd’) immunity before winter as appears to be happening in the United States.

  • The link between cases and serious illness has been very much weakened compared to a year ago. Respiratory viruses are always on the increase at this time of year.

    In fact cases aren’t “surging” at all they have just gone from being in the 30000’s to the 40000’s, why is that a surge?

    At this stage we shouldn’t be unduly worried or be using hyperbole.

  • Martin Frost 20th Oct '21 - 9:28pm

    This ongoing Covid obsession is turning the Liberal Democrats into an authoritarian political party. What are its value these days? After being a Keynesian for many decades it embraced neo-thatcherism in 2010 to “save the country from debt”. Some hope of that now. Zero Covid is pipedream. Those who spout this nonsense are just as fanatical as the anti-vaxers. How many years of social and economic damage will it take before people start to question ” the received wisdom”.
    Covid needs to be dealt with but lockdowns are not the answer.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 20th Oct '21 - 9:53pm

    John, Jeff

    The digs re: a phrase I interpret the way I do, are not really helpful. I make claer what I mean. You agree in the sense you want to act to deal with it and therefore do so with real effort and real and strong reduction. I explain, ” beaten, ” in that it does not control us, or our agenda, or services, in other words, like the cold or flu, it does not lead to the awful result it has.

    Instead of commenting on one word, and semantics, why not engage in real agreement on policies.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 20th Oct '21 - 9:55pm

  • John Marriott 20th Oct '21 - 10:13pm

    @Lorenzo Cherin
    “Policies”? What “policies”? It appears to me more like “make it up as you go along”. The only ‘digging’ I’m on about is digging yourself into an even bigger hole, which is precisely what the British government appears to be doing.

  • George Thomas 21st Oct '21 - 10:53am

    “Given the fact that, of the four U.K. ‘nations’, England appears to be the only one relaxing rules on face coverings etc, it might be interesting to compare infection rates, hospitalisations and deaths between them to see if things are worse in England than elsewhere.

    They’re not…”

    Regarding this, I think it’s very difficult to make comparisons and certainly there needs to be a context around the basic numbers.

    For example, I would suggest Wales has a higher proportion of older people as a whole and lower number of ICU beds which should mean more pressure on the NHS and more deaths than England as a whole but the numbers don’t show that.

    How far away the border is plays a part as well so Scotland’s communities live quite far from border with England whereas some towns in Wales can spot people walking into the shops unmasked from their doorstep which surely has interesting impact on compliance.

    I think mask wearing is decreasing in Wales despite rising numbers. Sometimes the messaging and policy can be bang on but if people aren’t following it on the ground (and it’s not just the politicians who have been reluctant to go hard, go before you need to) then figures will reflect that in a bad way.

    Question remains what are the LD’s suggesting does happen? SAGE advice is to go hard, go early and Scotland and Wales have chosen vaccine passports as part of that. Working from home hasn’t stopped in Wales, face-masks on public transport and in shops hasn’t stopped so what other than vaccine passports are LD’s suggesting except maybe increasing compliance by having UK wide message? Difficulty with that is convincing this Tory government to follow Hollyrood and Senedd rather than telling them what to do…

  • Kyle Harrison 21st Oct '21 - 4:55pm

    I live in Twickenham and you hardly seen anyone wearing face masks. And that is this MPs seat. In the supermarkets plenty of people still wear them but in other shops and pubs, not much at all.

    The question is, does it really matter? I am all for masks if we really are making a difference but when you wear masks to walk from table to table but not when you are sat down, it seems fanciful.

    I don’t think many people want to wear masks and getting them to do so is very difficult. In London, loads of people don’t wear them on the trains and tube and it is still mandated that you do. People just disobey. So much for liberal, intelligent London, eh….

    I don’t think the Lib Dems will be very popular if they are the party of more restrictions. I honestly don’t think there’s too many people around that support that position anymore post the vaccines. If even middle class, suburban London is rejecting what does that say about other places?

    Keep pushing the vaccines and making sure we get boosters out seems the way to go.

  • John Marriott 20th Oct ’21 – 6:06pm:
    …it would appear that the measures currently in force in Scotland appear to be having a positive effect.

    Correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation. Wales has retained similar measures to Scotland, yet has a higher and rising infection rate compared to England. There are numerous other factors. Infections are best considered as waves rather than a snapshot of daily cases. Scotland has most likely already seen the peak of its Delta wave, perhaps due to schools going back earlier and average vitamin D levels falling off sooner due to latitude. Across the rest of the UK, the Delta wave is likely to rise further and then fall over the next few weeks. Most west European countries are only just starting their Delta wave. It is currently sweeping through many east European countries and the Baltic states.

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