Politically Speaking: By Jon Trickett, MP for Hemsworth
Covid-19 infection rates are on the rise
A third wave of coronavirus is now sweeping the country.
Daily hospitalisations from Covid-19 are now five times higher today than they were in mid-May with a rate of almost 3,000 new hospitalisations a week. Covid infections now average 30,000 a day and this is not just among our young.
NHS England’s data shows that 110 cluster outbreaks occurred in England’s care homes last week.
I strongly urge everyone to get the vaccine when offered.
I also call on the government to spell out more clearly their plans to roll out the booster jab.
It is clear that this has occurred due to Boris Johnson’s mishandling of the pandemic.
Delays in bringing airport controls into place and the huge error of paying billions to private companies to run Test and Trace when it could have been run by the NHS have proven disastrous.
Boris Johnson has also consistently ignored medical advice from the government’s own scientific advisors who told him that the rapid easing of restrictions would push up the rate of infection.
I am very sad to say that Wakefield is now caught up in this new wave.
The third wave was initially concentrated in the northwest and northeast of England, but it is already spreading southwards.
The infection levels in Wakefield have reached 537 per 100k people and we are the 17th worst affected local authority in England.
Most cluster outbreaks in our region are occurring in our schools, for now, but the previous waves during this pandemic teach us that eventually it spreads throughout the community into workplaces.
The government is ending the furlough scheme soon and withdrawing support from businesses. No other country in the world is cutting furlough support and scrapping restrictions amid an infection rate as high as ours.
I strongly urge people to continue to wear masks on public transport and in shopping centres. Despite what the government says, the risks are still high.
If you are asked to isolate, please remember that you are entitled to a £500 support payment.
This pandemic amplifies the fault lines of inequality in our society.
We know that the poor are twice as likely to die from Covid and that front line key workers who cannot work from home have also died in much larger numbers.
Our key workers have carried us through this pandemic, and they deserve a proper pay rise.
I led a Westminster Hall debate on the impact of health inequalities in West Yorkshire in April, which showed that much higher numbers of workers in our area were not able to work from home and were put at risk in factory and warehouse jobs.
Infection levels today are even higher in our area than when I led that debate.
We must be acutely aware of the risk posed by long Covid. The long term health impact of this disease cannot be ignored.
I will be calling on the government to make sure welfare support is fast tracked for long Covid sufferers and that the £20 uplift is extended.
It is incredible that as the government’s scientific advisory body, SAGE, warns of a tough winter, the government would consider removing the uplift which has been a lifeline for thousands of people in Hemsworth.