CITY MPs express their disappointment and alarm over the rise in Covid-19 cases as Coventry joins Stoke and Slough in moving up into tighter Tier 2 restrictions.
Coventry comes under Tier 2 of the government’s new national risk alert system from 12midnight (Saturday October 24) – meaning people will not be able to meet other households socially indoors – at home or in hospitability and leisure venues.
Heath Secretary Matt Hancock said in all three towns infections have risen to over 100 per 100,000 people and that cases are doubling every fortnight.
Coventry South MP Zarah Sultana and the Labour North West MP Taiwo Owatemi today made urgent calls for NHS Test and Trace to be fixed after the system recorded its worst week – with data revealing less than 60% of close contacts of people who tested positive for coronavirus were reached in the week ending October 14.
Taiwo Owatemi said: “I’m alarmed to see cases are on the rise, but it’s even more concerning that this follows Test and Trace having its least successful week since its inception with less than 60% of contacts being reached.
“Coventry has held up our side of the bargain. Our businesses have become Covid secure, our families have made sacrifices and we’ve all followed the guidance.
“The Government needs to start holding up their side of the bargain. They need to fix testing, fix track and trace, proper financial support for families and businesses and a much needed exit plan for cities like ours to leave Tier 2.
“Speaking to local businesses, I agree with them that it’s ludicrous that the Government has imposed restrictions without providing any guidance on how or when they will be lifted. Coventry needs clarity, certainty and competence – all of which is missing from the Government. I want residents to know that I am still here to help and I’ll continue to make sure London politicians don’t leave us behind. If anyone is worried or needs support, they can get in contact with me. I have every faith that Coventry can get through this together.”
In the seven days up to October 19, 189 cases per 100,000 people were recorded in Coventry with 702 positive tests. The average area in England had 117.
Ms Owatemi added: “Moving from Tier 1 to Tier 2 is disappointing but unsurprising given the trajectory the City has been on for the last few weeks. Now, more than ever, it is important that the people of Coventry adhere to the guidelines and restrictions set out by the Government.
“The Government must now also recognise the sacrifice that many employees and employers will have to make as a result of this and consider the level of support that is provided to those, particularly in the hospitality sector. I will continue to work with my colleagues across the city and region to ensure this pandemic does not turn into a pandemic of poverty.”
And Zarah Sultana, the labour MP for Coventry South said: “I am very disappointed we are in this situation. The virus should not have been allowed to get out of control like this again.
“We’ve been let down by the failing Test and Trace system, which this week reached a new low of contact traces – less than 60%, well below the 80% needed for it to be effective. It’s time to take the system out of the hands of private companies like Serco and trust the NHS and local authorities to run it for the public good.
“With cases rising rapidly, everything must be done to protect lives and livelihoods. That means driving down the number of cases and providing additional economic support to workers and businesses affected. I am concerned that the Chancellor’s rushed announcement yesterday is too little, too late.
“I will keep pushing to do everything I can to protect lives and livelihoods of everyone in Coventry South throughout this pandemic.”
Coventry has moved from medium risk to high risk in the last week but cases per 100,000 remain lower than neighbouring Birmingham and Solihull, and lower than the West Midlands’ Combined Authority average. Around 40% of positive cases are from the 18-21 age group and hospital admissions remain lower than the West Midlands average, along with positive cases in the 60 and over age group.