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Newppaper briefings have harmed COVID fight claim Labour

Written by on May 10, 2020

Newspaper briefings have harmed COVID fight, claim Labour

Briefings to newspapers have led to more people flouting the Government’s Covid-19 lockdown rules, the shadow health secretary has said.

Jonathan Ashworth said headlines on several national titles’ front pages on Thursday – based on briefings – suggested an easing of restrictions will be brought in on Monday.

However, at the daily Downing Street press conference on Saturday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps warned that the Government would proceed with “extreme caution” when lifting lockdown measures.

Speaking to Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Leicester South Labour MP Mr Ashworth said: “The frustration is that we had different briefings to different newspapers throughout the week.

“I think some of those briefings to newspapers has led to the situation yesterday and on Friday of lots of people going to parks, enjoying the sunshine.

“We have seen an increase in road traffic and I think we have seen more Coastguard call-outs than at any other point during the lockdown.

“This lockdown, which we have been in now for seven weeks, has contributed to hospital admissions falling and the death rate falling, and you’d hope and expect that, and that is a tribute to the British public who have followed the stay home advice.”

Meanwhile, Professor Peter Horby, chairman of the UK Government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said ministers should be “incredibly cautious” about any easing of the lockdown measures.

Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, he said: “We have to be clear that this is not like a storm where we batten down the hatches and then it passes by and we walk out into the sunshine and it’s gone.

“It’s still out there. Most of us have not had this virus. So if we get this wrong it will very quickly increase across the population and we will be back in a situation of crisis.

“So we have to be incredibly cautious about relaxing the measures.”

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, chairman of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at the University of Cambridge, said it is “extraordinary” that it is not known how many people have had Covid-19.

He told the Andrew Marr Show that some say the infection fatality rate – the proportion of people infected with the virus who go on to die – is around 1%.

If this is multiplied up, it would mean that around 3.5 million people have been infected.

But others put the infection fatality rate at a different percentage.

Sir David said: “It is extraordinary that we don’t know these basic facts yet.”

He went on to say that the Office for National Statistics was asked just last month to carry out a survey on how many people have had coronavirus.

“I think it’s extraordinary we’ve had to wait this long for this most basic information and I think that’s the one bit of criticism I am willing to make about the Government is the fact that… development of the testing has been so delayed.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub