Lancaster and Fleetwood MP raises questions over Covid-19 testing and tracing, airport quarantines, and PPE as UK reports Europe's highest death toll

Cat Smith says the UK having the largest death toll in Europe is a wake up call for more and faster action to protect the country.

Wednesday, 6th May 2020, 12:01 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th May 2020, 12:03 pm

New government figures show that the UK has the highest number of Covid-19 related deaths in Europe.

There have been 29,427 deaths recorded across the UK - which Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said was "a massive tragedy".

But Labour MP Ms Smith said that the UK still needs to learn lessons from other countries about testing and tracing which has helped to suppress transmission of the disease.

Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Cat Smith.

She said: "The UK having the highest death rate in Europe is a tragic reminder of the severity of COVID-19.

"Every one of the 29,427 deaths represents a family ripped apart with grief and struggling to mourn in a country that is locked down.

"The public are right to be asking questions about why our death rate is so high and ministers now need to be taking all action necessary to suppress the virus, save lives and minimise harm.

“I, along with my Labour colleagues, have long been calling for a testing and tracing strategy.

The Covid-19 testing centre in Lancaster.

"Under this pressure the government promised 100,000 tests completed a day, but another day goes by and that promise is not fulfilled.

"It is testing and tracing which has suppressed transmission in other countries and we need the UK to learn those lessons.

"We have known that care homes and nursing homes are particularly vulnerable and we need to ensure that all those are getting appropriate PPE in enough supply to keep residents, staff and communities safe.

"We also know that this virus thrives on inequality, with disproportionate mortality in poorer communities.

"We need the government to bring forward a strategy to tackle persistent health inequalities that mean people die sooner because of poverty."

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said at the daily coronavirus briefing on May 5 that he doesn't think we will get a real verdict on how well countries have done until the pandemic is over, and particularly until we get comprehensive international data on all-cause mortality.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show that 30,234 people have died in the UK from Covid-19 up to April 24.

ONS figures include all mentions of Covid-19 on a death certificate, including suspected Covid-19 without testing.

A Covid-19 testing centre was set up at St Leonardsgate car park in Lancaster on Monday, May 4, but closes today, Wednesday May 6.

Across the Morecambe Bay health trust, which covers North Lancashire and South Cumbria, a total of 151 coronavirus deaths have been reported.Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to address the nation this Sunday, May 10, outlining the government's lockdown exit strategy.

This is expected to contain a "roadmap" for getting the economy moving again.

There has been much speculation about when children will return to school, although unions on both a national and local level have said schools are a "long way off" returning to normal.Ms Smith, who is Labour's Shadow Minister for Young People and Voter Engagement, also said that data coming from airports also raises serious questions about airport quarantining and screening.

The government is considering quarantining people who arrive into the UK once lockdown begins to ease.

She said: "The first job of any government is to protects its citizens and there is clear evidence that lack of quarantining has led to citizens becoming unwell with the virus.

“The UK is behind the curve and behind other countries on testing, social care, PPE, and support for businesses.

"The government was slow to lock down, slow to get PPE, slow to test and has now stopped all tracing.

"The largest death toll in Europe is a wake-up call for more action, faster, to protect our country.”