LLast week we got a taste of what is coming. We head to the winter without the Covid-19 vaccine, so we need to get used to a new routine where the latest local regulations are announced every Thursday. Large manchester It wasn’t the first and we certainly won’t be the last.
I was not surprised when Secretary of State for Health called me late Thursday afternoon to inform me of his intentions.
The successful strengthening of access to local data has allowed us to see most of what the government sees, displaying images that were dramatically different from what we saw last week.
In 9 out of 10 districts showing a decrease in the infection rate, an increase was seen in all 9 districts, and there were many cases where falls were recorded in only one state.
As I dug deeper into the data, I was surprised by many things. First, we moved from isolated hotspots to more common outbreaks affecting wealthy and deprived communities. Second, there was concern about the rate of increase. For example, Trafford has grown from nine new cases per 100,000 to 40 cases. Proposed by Secretary of Health.
Throughout this crisis, I have advocated a preventative health first approach. At the end of May I said the lockdown was released too early, and I think the difficult position we have today is related to it. But we were our whereabouts, and when Matt Hancock called, my first instinct was to support his move and introduce it as quickly as possible. Not easy for anyone, I know. But once the first shock has subsided, we hope the people will embrace the logic. It’s a modest limit to prevent lockdown later.
However, I know that for many of the Muslim communities where Eid’s plans are confusing, it doesn’t feel modest. To be honest, I think if the same data were presented, I would do exactly the same on Christmas Eve.
What the government did wrong was communication. The minister appears many times before the camera announces, and there are gaps of hours and sometimes days before the details are displayed. This happened again last Thursday night, confusing many lives. This should stop.
Going forward, full support documentation should be available shortly after the official statement is published. You should also check the end of the mixed message. Can you imagine how it felt to be one of the people shielded by Greater? Manchester Listen to the Prime Minister announcing the end of the shield at lunch on Friday? So, just a few hours after the government calls for households to stay, they effectively tell the most vulnerable people that they need to get rid of the courier and go to the store again.
This is obviously wrong. The government should correct this by expanding immediately until the shields in the areas affected by the regulations are expanded and funding the municipality to continue the delivery of household foods and medicines.
But the biggest change needed is the NHS’s testing and tracking system, which provides financial support to those who are required to self-separate.
People are asking: Why are the poorest places in the north most affected by this virus? Some on the right are trying to take responsibility for communities that are different from the people themselves. Do not let them do this.
The truth is that in restricted areas, there are many people doing low-paying, unsafe work and cannot self-isolate when required by a test and trace system. They know they will not be paid if they do, or worse, they may lose their jobs. This will help explain why there is less contact with tests and traces in poor areas, and why people are reluctant to provide contact names to tracers.
We’ve been raising this issue for weeks, and it’s finally recognized by senior government officials as a serious weakness in defense. Dido Harding, NHS Test and Trace said at the British Federation event this week that there is clear evidence now that the lowest-paid people find it difficult to follow the guidance. Ministers must listen.
We urgently need a simple national policy that allows all workers to be segregated in full if required. How it is paid is a matter for the government to sort with the employer. At the moment, the lack of such a policy is a major obstacle for our armor against Covid-19, endangering the poorest communities.
And how can you make sure it’s safe to restart schools in the poorest communities in September if your test and trace system isn’t working properly?
So this time it was right to support the government. But if it does not help these “red wall” seats, it will be much more difficult to persuade the people of the North to support more restrictions in the future.