The UK recorded 20,964 new coronavirus cases and 516 deaths yesterday, with cases rising by 4,386 in just one day. After the second nationwide lockdown ended last week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said London, Essex and Kent had seen a “worrying” rise in cases. On Question Time yesterday, and audience member laid the blame for the surging cases at the feet of young people not taking the pandemic restrictions seriously.
Martin, from Chelmsford in Essex, asked the panel, which featured journalist Julia Hartley-Brewer and Welsh Tory MP Robert Buckland.
The audience member asked: “The covid virus does not have legs, walking around looking for victims.
“The growth in infections, hospitalisations and subsequent deaths is due to too many not following the guidelines correctly. Shouldn’t people be taking more personal responsibility to safeguard others?”
Fiona Bruce then asked whether Martin was asking the question because of his experiences, to which he replied: “It’s everywhere you look.
“I hear the reports on TV and things where ‘it’s the minority’, but the trouble is you don’t have to relax too much to create a problem.”
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The audience member then referenced his own experiences in Essex with younger Brits not following the guidelines.
He said, referencing the rise in cases: “In Essex, we’ve been historically quite low and we’re starting to go through the roof.
“I was in a supermarket this morning, alright there were only two or three people without masks, but there were still three people without masks, and they were young fit people.
“We know there are people going in and out of homes, I even talked to publicans and they say in the area, and they say there are pubs that are not following the rules.”
Mr Hancock said yesterday that mass testing programmes will be rolled out to schools in these areas in an effort to combat the rise.
The Health Secretary said in Downing Street: “I’m particularly concerned about the number of cases in London, Kent and Essex. Cases are rising and in many areas are already high.
“Looking into the detail, the testing results and survey shows us that by far the fastest rise is among secondary school age children 11-18 years old, while the rate among adults in London is broadly flat. But we know from experience that a sharp rise in case in younger people can lead to a rise among more vulnerable age groups later.
“We need to do everything we can to stop the spread among school age children in London right now – we must not wait until the review, which will take place on December 16. We need to take targeted action immediately.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson also stressed the UK must abide by the guidelines throughout the winter or risk entering a third lockdown.
Speaking from Guy’s & St Thomas’ hospital in London, he hailed the announcement the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine was being rolled out but urged continued compliance with guidelines.
He said: “It will gradually make a huge, huge difference, but I stress gradually because we’re not there yet.”
The UK has reported in total 1,792,611 cases and 63,179 deaths from the virus.