Publish Covid risk analysis before G7 goes ahead

Posted on: 6th June 2021

The UK Government and other G7 leaders will wish to set an example. Most G7 invitees are from Amber countries. The UK Government’s own regulations insist that anyone entering the UK from a G7 country is required to quarantine for at least five days. That moment has now passed. If they don’t respect their own regulations they’ll be seen as once again adopting the Trip to Barnard Castle, “One rule for us…” approach.

That’s why we’re calling on the Government to publish its Covid risk analysis (and the scientific advice which underpins it) before the G7 Summit goes ahead in Cornwall this week. Although it would be disappointing, it would be better to conduct the Summit online than to take irresponsible risks.

Though this isn’t the first time I’ve raised concerns about the Covid risks associated with the Summit, and we’re grateful to Cornwall’s Public Health Officer for publishing Cornwall’s plans to take sensible precautionary measures, it’s never too late to review these important decisions, especially where there are grave consequences if we get it wrong. The least the Government should do is to publish its own Covid risk analysis, including its scientific and medical advice and to demonstrate they’re following the same rules they expect the rest of us to adopt. The simple facts are that the Delta variant is now dominant across the UK. Its prevalence is doubling each week. It’s associated with far greater transmissibility than other variants, increased severity of illness, increased risk of hospitalisation and lower vaccine effectiveness.

Above all the Government must demonstrate that it has taken heed of independent scientific advice and made a responsible decision regarding the G7. The Government will be applauded by us if it demonstrates honesty, leadership and willingness to follow the science even if this means the G7 summit should move online.

Cornwall Council Liberal Democrat Group’s Deputy Leader Colin Martin said, “Cornwall is now one of the safest places in the country for British holidaymakers, but all this could be put at risk by crowds of politicians and journalists landing at Newquay airport and travelling around Cornwall without being quarantined.”
Cllr Martin says it is misleading to claim that all the foreign visitors will be in a secure bubble: “Journalists are being accommodated in Falmouth, but surely they will want to speak to the politicians at Carbis Bay and visit the public protest sites in Truro. All these sites are being managed by Police, who have come from across England and will be mixing with one another before heading home.”

The event is putting enormous pressure on Cornwall Council, which is being asked to provide extra spaces in care homes so that two wards at Treliske Hospital can be emptied out just in case they are needed by VIPs, Police or protesters. The Council is also struggling to re-house over 100 homeless people who have been evicted from their emergency accommodation to make space for visiting Police officers.

“We’re simply calling on the Government to publish its Covid risk analysis and latest scientific and medical advice so we can all see whether this summit has the potential to become a super-spreader event. Residents living near Carbis Bay now have to show their passports at Police checkpoints just to get to their own homes, but visitors from all around the world are being allowed in without quarantine. Meanwhile a major extension has been built at the Carbis Bay Hotel without planning permission. No wonder people are starting to say that rules don’t seem to apply to those in power,” said Cllr Martin.

– ends –

Footnote:
1. If the Summit had to go online we acknowledge that Cornwall may have missed the opportunity for global recognition. But wider public protection – both here and worldwide – is more important that this. Many locals have been surprised at the extent of the security measures and restrictions on their freedom of movement and to note that the host hotel has used the summit as a pretext to flout normal planning procedures. All this has converted much of local opinion from one of seeing this as an opportunity to promote what’s good about the place to one where there’s fear of the shame this has visited on the area.
2. We’re calling on the Government to follow the science, AND their own rules. Scientists will remind them that the significantly more transmissible Delta variant is now dominant across the UK and that its prevalence is doubling each week. The UK has again witnessed a 40% increase in prevalence of all variants this week, even though there was less testing. The increasingly prevalent Delta variant is associated with increased risk of hospitalisation, increased severity of illness and reduction in vaccine effectiveness. As the virus becomes more prevalent the likelihood of creating more and more dangerous mutations increases. Some epidemiologists point to an expectation that the protective antibody created by the vaccine could soon be waning for the most elderly and vulnerable who may have had their second vaccine 2-3 months ago. Added to this the Lateral Flow test is known to have a 23% false negative result level, but PHE is using it as a reliable tool in circumstances like this.