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Government ‘sleepwalking into another deadly winter’ as it votes on temporary renewal of Covid measures

Parliamentary reporter @TrinderMatt

TORY ministers risk “sleepwalking into another deadly winter,” Labour MP Richard Burgon warned today as Covid-19 deaths and cases continued to rise.

The government said that a further 223 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for the virus, bringing the UK total to 138,629. It is the highest figure for daily reported deaths since March 9.

It also reported a further 43,738 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases.

The announcement came after MPs backed a temporary renewal of emergency Covid-19 powers.

But Mr Burgon said he did not support maintaining provisions in the Coronavirus Act 2020 as Parliament is not being given the opportunity to discuss the wider public health measures needed to stem soaring infection rates.

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted that the coming months would be “challenging” as new daily virus cases approach 50,000 — their highest level since mid-July.

The figure is only about 20,000 short of the highest ever recorded in Britain. On January 8, 68,053 new cases were reported at the height of the most devastating wave of the pandemic.

Data published on Monday showed that 5,561 people had been admitted to hospital over the week prior – up 6.9 per cent on the week before – and that the number dying within 28 days of testing positive had reached 869 over the preceding seven days, up 11.4 per cent. 

Speaking ahead of the Commons debate, in which MPs backed the renewal of emergency powers without a vote, Mr Burgon said: “Britain now has the second-highest number of new Covid cases and of hospitalisations in the world.

“Our current number of daily Covid deaths is equivalent to over 40,000 deaths per year, while our vaccination rate has fallen to the 12th highest in Europe.

“Parliament should be getting to grips with all of this and debating measures such as compulsory mask-wearing on public transport and in shops, better ventilation in workplaces, a strategy for tackling high infection rates in schools and the need for proper sick pay.

“In not doing so, the government is at risk of sleepwalking into another deadly winter.”

The PM’s official spokesperson said that a rise in coronavirus cases was expected during colder months and that the government would keep a “close watch” on the data.

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