G7 and the Covid tsunami – Just a coincidence?

Posted on: 20th June 2021

The correlation between G7 and the tsunami of covid case-load in St Ives/Carbis Bay (and Falmouth) is undeniable. It ought to drive public bodies to at the very least maintain an open mind about the connection between the two. But Cornwall’s Council’s Conservative Health Chief has already declared that “G7 is not the cause of this new spike”. Such attempts to prematurely deny the possibility that the G7 summit was a significant factor in this outbreak undermines confidence in those charged with responsibility for protecting public health, and gives rise to concerns that public bodies are being used to buttress a partisan driven cover-up; to protect the Conservatives from criticism for a – what may have been – cavalier decision not to hold the event online to protect public health.

What the enormous scale of local hotel and restaurant closures in the last fortnight show is that it isn’t a case of putting the economy before public protection or the other way around. Only by getting Covid effectively under control can we re-build our economy

I had been calling on the Government to publish its G7 covid risk assessment for a long time. This became evermore essential when it became evident that the delta variant was much more transmissible and virulent and most of the delegates and support services etc were coming from amber countries. If they couldn’t publish they should at least have shared any confidential report with representatives like myself who are expected to fulfil a scrutiny function on behalf of the wider community.

Did the Government ever make any serious attempt to undertake a covid risk assessment? And, even if it was undertaken, did those responsible for deciding whether or not to go ahead take heed or was this just another example of the Government’s cavalier disregard for public safety – like the Christmas ease-up which caused tens of thousands of avoidable deaths across the UK? Those who were responsible for that decision and for the post G7 summit covid case management and assessment should be held to account for their decisions and actions.

 

Notes:

  1. I first called for the publication of a G7 covid risk assessment in January and repeated my request when knowledge of the virulence of the new delta variant became known before the summit itself. 
  2. We are at a significant disadvantage as we do not have the same data that Conservative Government or Public Health England have.
  3. At a local level that is really limiting to be able to work through growth in cases, ages, occupations etc and work places. So we offer a note of caution. (Why should they withhold vital data? What have they to hide?)
  4. However perhaps it is at a comparative level that St Ives in particular stands out locally and nationally. St Ives current case rate as of 14/6/21 = 862/100k  (this is 6 days out of date and I suspect could be significantly higher as the Cornwall daily rate has increased from an average of 58/100k to 139/100k since then) This places St Ives as possibly the highest prevalence in the UK. Falmouth centrally is not far behind at 730/100k
  5. If this were just a half term effect then I imagine we would be seeing similar increases and absolute levels in other tourist hotspots across the country. Below is a list of well known tourist destinations ( all figures as of 14/6/21 in x/100k population.
  6. Bridport <3 
  7. Bournemouth (East Cliff) 186
  8. Brighton ( St James Park) 180
  9. Margate 81
  10. Whitby <3
  11. Kendal 140
  12. Blackpool ( Central) 260
  13. Weston 151
  14. Minehead 60
  15. Woolacombe/Ilfracome <3
  16. Newquay 350
  17. Hence St Ives and Falmouth are 200 to 250% higher than any other tourist hotspot ( I have taken the highest level in any of the above towns for comparison)
  18. With this level of variance I would contend there must be another reason.
  19. In the past St Ives did not suffer a disproportionate growth rate including over last summer when there was minimal change. The previous highest level I can see was 388. Hence we are now double that.
  20. Cornwall has some of the highest level of vaccinations in the country with 79% having their first and 62% their second. This should have had the ability to limit or at least to slow transmission. 
  21. The rate rise in Cornwall has been 800% in the week to 14/6/21 ( previous highest rate rise I can see was 200% at Xmas) in St Ives the rate rise is 2900% in Falmouth it is 2900%. But in Newquay ( see list above) growth rate is 420% in Bournemouth growth rate is 84%
  22. So you get the idea that the absolute rate and growth rate In St Ives and Falmouth are at an extreme variance with any reasonable comparator. The explanation has to be something else.
  23. The build up to the G7 started long before the formal meeting. In St Ives there was major construction, security and police presence for several weeks before. Sites were taken over by the above groups including the Rugby ground, a significant area around the Carbis Bay Hotel, large fields ( for accommodation) in Towednack. These groups were essentially living and working in the town and surrounding areas. Anecdotally few were seen with masks when meeting other people in particular police and the public.
  24. There’s no doubt that half term played a part in the increase but I would expect it to be no worse than other representative areas. The presence of those other groups for several weeks coming from all over the country, then the addition of media and security staff flying in from abroad, I suspect, has created the prefect storm for St Ives and Falmouth. The fallout of course is born locally and personally by individuals, shops, restaurants pubs and hotels. So much for the G7 boost!
 
We need evidence to explain the rate rise and refute the above interpretation;
Covid policies for all the groups who supported the development and an assessment of the compliance with those policies
Vaccination data for those groups
Testing data for those groups
 
For only when all those turn up nothing can we exclude the G7 development as a very significant contributor to the tsunami that has hit St Ives.