Government plans to 'live with Covid' criticised by city MP Stephen Morgan as 'highly irresponsible'

PORTSMOUTH South’s MP has slammed the government’s plan to ‘live with Covid’ as an ‘empty slogan’ and ‘highly irresponsible’.

Wednesday, 9th February 2022, 5:04 pm

Boris Johnson has signalled that laws requiring people in England with Covid-19 to self-isolate will be lifted within weeks.

The prime minister said he will present his plan for ‘living with Covid’ when Parliament returns from a short recess on February 21.

And he indicated that, as long as the data remains positive, the legal duty to self-isolate will be lifted a month earlier than planned.

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Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street, London, to attend Prime Minister's Questions at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday February 9, 2022. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

But Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South’s Labour MP, said: ‘Labour has always been clear decisions should follow the data and the science.

‘That’s why we have had a plan on the table to live well with Covid for weeks as the government continues to dither and delay.

‘For ministers, living with Covid is just an empty slogan with no real plan. For some of the fanatics on the Conservative backbenches, living with Covid means letting the virus rip.

‘Both positions are highly irresponsible.

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‘Our plan focuses on preventing new variants crossing our borders through pre-departure tests, improving sick pay for all workers, ensuring sufficient supply of tests and prioritising them for key workers.

‘We cannot continue to see our economy, education of our children and daily lives and liberties needlessly impacted by the complete mismanagement of this crisis by government.’

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Johnson said: ‘It is my intention to return on the first day after the half-term recess to present our strategy for living with Covid.’

‘Provided the current encouraging trends in the data continue, it is my expectation that we will be able to end the last domestic restrictions – including the legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive – a full month early.’

But Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt said: ‘I think most people will be pleased that we can get back to normality.

‘We should always bear in mind there will be people who will be or will feel clinically vulnerable, but we've done such a good job in looking out for each other I am sure people will continue to do so.

‘We have a huge task ahead to recover from the last couple of years, but our city is more that up to that challenge.’

And Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage added: ‘As the dominant Omicron variant proves to be so much less impactful, this seems like the necessary step.

‘I think we need to learn to live with Covid, as we move from pandemic to endemic.’

There were 11,471 patients in hospital in England with Covid-19 on February 8, NHS figures show.

This is down 11 per cent on the previous week but still higher than levels before Christmas.

However just 385 patients were in mechanical ventilator beds, the lowest number since last July.

Covid-19 cases in England currently average just under 64,000 a day, the lowest since mid-December, though this only includes people who have reported a positive test result and does not reflect the prevalence of the virus across the whole population.

However, the PM’s official spokesman added in a briefing with journalists that Downing Street: ‘What we would simply be doing is removing the domestic regulations which relate to isolation.

‘But obviously in the same way that someone with flu, we wouldn’t recommend they go to work, we would never recommend anyone goes to work when they have an infectious disease.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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