This week saw the UK report the highest Covid-19 death toll in Europe, a tragic reminder of the human cost of this crisis, and the public are rightly asking why our death rate is so high.
We should take all actions necessary to suppress the virus, save lives and minimise harm. The Labour Party has set out the principles for what should happen next and urged ministers to work constructively with us to take these forward.
Labour has set out seven core principles that need to be considered by the government to ensure public services, businesses and people are supported and kept safe. People rightly need confidence that it’s safe before they go back out to work, travel or use public services. Labour’s seven core Covid-19 principles are:
1. Keeping people safe by enforcing a ‘national safety standard’ for businesses, schools and other public services to show that they are safe to use and work in.
2. A mass expansion of community testing and tracing by stating when the government will hit its daily testing target of 250,000 and recruiting 50,000 people as contact tracers, alongside the use of any workable apps and technology.
3. Protecting key and essential workers by publishing a national plan to ensure supply chains are developed that guarantee personal protective equipment and facial covering to those who need it.
4. Supporting people’s livelihoods, jobs and businesses by introducing bespoke support for people and industries facing significant challenges, such as the hospitality sector, the self-employed and unemployed.
5. A structured approach to easing and tightening restrictions. Any easing of restrictions should have advance warning to allow planning and be done in conjunction with all nations, regions, local authorities and elected mayors.
6. A national vaccines plan setting out how the government intends to ensure the manufacture and distribution of any resulting vaccine.
7. Preparing for winter flu. Ministers must urgently publish a national plan for the winter flu season. Flu vaccines can take up to six months to produce. This year’s flu season is likely to put the NHS under huge strain. Early planning is therefore essential.
The public have made great sacrifices to make the lockdown work. They deserve to be part of an adult conversation about what comes next. We must take people with us and secure their consent. With that in mind, I am interested to hear your thoughts on lockdown, how it has affected you and your family, and whether you support any potential loosening of restrictions by filling out my quick survey below.
It must be an urgent priority for the government to ensure frontline NHS and care staff are provided with the PPE they have been telling us they desperately need for weeks. Over 70% of care homes in my constituency that I’ve spoken to this week have told me they are struggling to source one or more items of PPE. Any health and care staff or other frontline workers can let me know their first-hand experiences in confidence below.
With growing pressures on our councils and the essential services they run, I was pleased to join Birmingham colleagues in urging the government not to go back on their pledge to cover Birmingham City Council's costs spent keeping our communities safe during this Covid-19 emergency.
If the government breaks its word to councils on funding, it will be the most vulnerable in our communities, and the workers who are giving so much to support them, who will suffer most.
My team and I are doing all we can to bring back many constituents currently stranded abroad in India, Pakistan and elsewhere in the world.
For those still stranded in India, the UK government has arranged the last charter flights back next week, after which time there are no further flights planned. More information can be found here.
The UK government has said that they are prioritising vulnerable individuals for return flights, in answer to my question below, however, some of my constituents with worsening health conditions are still stranded abroad and have been unsuccessful in securing a return flight.
I will continue to do all I can to bring back those stranded abroad, and those needing help should contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My statement on the Coronavirus Global Response International Pledging Event on Monday:
“With the UK co-hosting the Coronavirus Global Response International Pledging Event, the government is in a strong position to move beyond rhetoric and ensure that any funding commitments come with conditions to ensure global access to any vaccines, tests or other treatments related to Covid-19.
“If the government fails to take concrete action, it is risking a scramble between countries, high prices, and restricted supply at the expense of people’s lives.
“A global pandemic requires us all to work together to share knowledge, expertise and resources. That is why Labour is calling for the UK government to ensure that there is genuine transparency over where the public money pledged today goes, and guarantees that anyone who needs the products is able to access them wherever they are in the world.”
Wherever you look, the virus has hit the poorest and most vulnerable hardest and worsened existing inequalities. A strong, independent DfID is vital to overcome the immediate Covid-19 emergency as well as the continuing issues of global poverty, inequality and the climate crisis.
Coronavirus is not just a health emergency but an economic and social one too. We are already seeing large scale food insecurity, increases in deaths due to other health problems such as HIV and malaria, and the clamping down of human rights.
My questions on these issues to the International Development Secretary on Wednesday.