Confusion over the level of Covid-19 testing data available to Leicester city council during its recent outbreak in cases intensified as Boris Johnson claimed his government had shared information.
The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, used prime minister’s questions to raise serious concerns from the local authority that it had only known about 80 new positive cases in a two-week period in June when the real figure had in fact been 944 cases.
The city is the first place in England facing a lockdown from Thursday, when non-essential shops and schools will close, except for the children of key workers. Peter Soulsby, the mayor of Leicester, said he had been trying to access data from central government for weeks.
Johnson accused Starmer of being mistaken, as both “pillar one and pillar two data have been shared not just with Leicester but with all authorities across the country”.
“There were particular problems in Leicester in implementing the advice and getting people to understand what was necessary to do but let’s face it, we’ve had to act, the government has acted and [the Labour leader] wants to know whether we’ll act in future to ensure that we protect the health of the entire country and I can tell him that we will,” the prime minister said.
“The prime minister can’t just bat away the challenge. These are matters of life and death and people’s livelihoods.”
Pillar one tests are those undertaken on NHS staff, care workers and tests in hospitals.
The Labour leader described as “flippant” Johnson’s claim that local councils should “show some guts” when it came to allowing visitors to flock to their areas, when days later Bournemouth had to close and the local authority declared a major incident after thousands of people travelled to the beaches there.
Starmer asked the PM if he regretted his remarks. Johnson said people had to behave responsibly if they were going to visit other parts of the country.
“I made it absolutely clear if people, if they’re going to travel to the seaside, take advantage of the easing of the lockdown, they must observe social distancing,” he said. / Guardian