Dangerous Mixed Messages

Dangerous Mixed Messages 800 450 Wera Hobhouse MP

Today the Office for National Statistics announced that the UK death toll from Covid-19 has risen above 40,000, with almost 10,000 care home residents having died from coronavirus. These figures confirm that our nation is the worst affected in Europe.

Each of these numbers represents a human life that has been cut short and untold grief for their loved ones.

Yet over the past couple of days, the Government has plunged our nation – already in a state of anxiety – into further uncertainty.

By easing the lockdown too early, sending mixed messages, and changing the national information slogans from red to green, the Government has incorrectly communicated that the emergency is over. This is simply not true.

We have all heard about the R number: the average number of people that one infected person will pass the coronavirus on to. An R number of 1 is a crucial threshold.

Although levels of infection are declining in the UK, they are still extremely high. We need to get the number of daily positive cases down substantially before risking a rise in the R number. NHS capacity, the number of daily tests needed and the infrastructure to trace very large numbers of people are all affected by small changes in the R number when we still have high levels of Covid-19.

The latest changes announced by the Government will increase the spread of Covid-19. By replacing the ‘Stay Home’ message with ‘Stay Alert’, people will go out more and some will take the opportunity to meet up with friends and family. We risk undoing all the progress we have made.

This is the worst time for our Government to turn its back on international cooperation. As we try to ease restrictions and get parts of the economy working again, the UK could easily work closely with other countries – our neighbors in Europe for a start – in trialing what measures are most effective at reducing the spread of infection.