40-day delay cost the lives of thousands
Labour joins experts in laying bare the human costs of the Tories’ inaction
By Lamiat Sabin
LIVES could have been saved if the government had acted earlier to impose a national coronavirus lockdown in England, Sir Keir Starmer said today.
The Labour leader took Prime Minister Boris Johnson to task in the Commons over his 40-day delay to implement a “circuit-breaker” that the government’s own Sage scientists recommended in September.
Sir Keir pointed out that on September 21, when the scientists recommended an urgent two- to three-week lockdown, there were 11 deaths from Covid-19 and just over 4,000 new infections.
The Labour leader said that on Saturday, when Mr Johnson finally announced a month-long lockdown, the daily figure had increased to 326 deaths and 22,000 new cases.
Sir Keir said: “That is the human cost of the government’s inaction.”
It came after the PM warned that the number of deaths linked to coronavirus this winter could be double the number seen during the pandemic’s first wave without the new lockdown.
Mr Johnson had to try to justify the decision to impose a month-long lockdown in England from Thursday in an attempt to ward off a Tory rebellion when MPs vote on the legislation tomorrow.
About 12 Tories are set to reject the legislation, though Labour and the Lib Dems have indicated that they will largely back it.
In response, Sir Keir said that Mr Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak — who had also rejected calls from government scientific advisers to impose a second lockdown — had failed to learn the “central lesson” from the pandemic’s first wave.
“As a result, this lockdown will be longer than it needed to be, at least four weeks. It will be harder — we’ve just missed half-term —and the human cost will be higher,” he said.
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