Government denies G7 summit behind Covid-19 spike in Cornwall

·4-min read

The Government has denied that a rise in coronavirus infections in Cornwall is linked to the recent G7 summit.

Figures for the seven days to June 14 show that Cornwall and Isles of Scilly had the fourth biggest week-on-week rise in infections – with only North Tyneside, Liverpool and County Durham higher.

This has led some to blame the gathering of the world leaders in Carbis Bay from June 11 to 13 as the cause of the spike.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosted US President Joe Biden and other world leaders in Carbis Bay (Leon Neal/PA).
Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosted US President Joe Biden and other world leaders in Carbis Bay (Leon Neal/PA)

The Government said there was always likely to be a rise in infections as restrictions across England were eased during May and indoor hospitality was permitted.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Attendees going to the G7 were tested before arriving and throughout the summit. We are not aware of any cases of transmission to local residents.

“We always said that, following the move to step three (of the Government’s road map out of lockdown), we would see cases rising across the country. That is what we are seeing playing out.”

Andrew George, a Cornwall councillor and former Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives, has called for the Government’s risk assessment for the summit to be published, alongside public health data to understand the cause of the spike.

“The correlation between G7 and the tsunami of Covid-19 case-load in St Ives/Carbis Bay and Falmouth is undeniable,” he said.

“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 cause of 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.

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“To protect the Conservatives from criticism for a – what could have been – cavalier decision not to hold the event online to protect public health.”

Mr George questioned whether the Government made “any serious attempt” to undertake a Covid-19 risk assessment for the summit.

“And, even if it was undertaken, did those responsible for deciding whether or not to go ahead take heed or was this just another of the Government’s cavalier disregard for public safety?” he asked.

“Those who were responsible for that decision and for the post-G7 summit Covid-19 case management and assessment should be held to account for their decisions and actions.”

He added: “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 addition of media and security staff flying in from abroad, I suspect, has created the perfect storm for St Ives and Falmouth.

“We need evidence to explain the rate rise and refute the above interpretation.

“Only then can we exclude the G7 development as a very significant contributor to the tsunami that has hit St Ives.”

Cornish historian and academic Bernard Deacon said the three areas of Cornwall with the highest rates of coronavirus infections were St Ives and Falmouth – linked to the G7 – and Newquay, where many visitors were staying.

“The correlation between a G7 staff presence and the highest rates is unmistakeable,” he said.

“Yet oddly, Cornwall Council, the NHS Trust and sections of the local media continue to assert that the G7 preparations had nothing at all to do with this spike.

“Instead, they argue it was caused by students, visitors over the half-term week from May 29 to June 5, the general relaxation of regulations and, most bizarrely, that residents went away at half-term, contracted the virus and then brought it home with them.

“The evidence that the preparations for G7 acted as a super-spreader is overwhelming, while the official line is just not credible.”

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