Covid-19 Update

Published date : 29 November, 2021
I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of his statement, and I add my own thanks for the work that the NHS does and continues to do in all parts of these islands to keep us all healthy and safe. The emergence of omicron, including the six cases in Scotland, along with the evidence of community transmission, shows that this is absolutely no time to be complacent. For all the measures being taken at the border, with day two PCR testing, we risk missing a number of cases as they cross the border because of the incubation period. Surely a more effective approach would be to introduce day eight PCR testing, accompanied by eight days of isolation—and surely it would be better to do that now, than to be bounced into doing that by events further down the line.

Secondly, the Secretary of State issues a call for us all to work together, and I am sure we all wish to be able to do that, but does he share my disappointment that when the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales today called for a Cobra meeting to be convened, that possibility appeared to have been dismissed out of hand already? Will the Secretary of State prevail on the Prime Minister to convene and attend an urgent Cobra meeting involving all four nations, so that people might be persuaded that he is on top of this development, as we would all expect him to be?

Finally, does the Secretary of State agree with the Opposition Front-Bench spokesperson, the Chair of the Select Committee and me that the emergence of this variant shows that none of us is safe until all of us are safe? However much is being done, and however much the UK has done to date, more still needs to be done to achieve as close to 100% global vaccination as possible, including through the vaccination programmes we are in, and by increasing global vaccine production and overcoming the barriers that patent law might place in the way of our achieving that.

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