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Portsmouth South MP calls on Health Secretary to “share data and improve testing” as new variant pushes city into Tier 4

Stephen Morgan MP has called on Government to urgently provide data about the threat posed to Portsmouth by the new variant of Coronavirus, and to undertake more sophisticated testing to track its spread within the community.

The Portsmouth South MP has also called on Ministers to consider what support they could provide local hospitals like Queen Alexandra, which has recently seen a renewed spike of cases.

The call came as Portsmouth was placed into the new Tier 4 measures on Sunday, just hours after stronger Tier 3 measures had taken effect.

Scientists have said that the new variant of coronavirus may be up to 70 per cent more transmissible than existing strains.

The prevalence of the new variant can only be identified by genomic sequencing of testing swabs. It is estimated that only 5% of swabs are currently put through this process.

Last week the MP asked a series of parliamentary questions about the prevalence of the new strain in Portsmouth and the region. To date the Government have failed to provide any answers.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Throughout this crisis the government has been two steps behind, and it is our communities and front-line workers that have paid the price.

“The new variant appears to spread the infection at a much faster rate than the original strain, posing renewed risk to our city and threatening to overwhelm local health services.

“Whilst I have asked for clarity from Ministers in Parliament on the new variant and what this will mean for our area, the answers have not been forthcoming.

“Time is of the essence, so I am today urging the Government to share data and improve testing to make sure we can quickly understand the scale of the challenge we now face, protect ourselves and our NHS. We cannot be caught on the backfoot again.

Ministers can take the British people with them on these decisions if they rebuild public confidence and are transparent about the data”.

Responding to constituent concerns, last Wednesday Stephen Morgan MP asked the following written parliamentary questions to government:

  • To ask the Secretary of State, what recent assessment he has made of the prevalence of the newly identified strain of Covid-19 (a) nationally (b) in Hampshire (c) in the Portsmouth South constituency and if he will make a statement
  • To ask the Secretary of State, if his Department will be undertaking a testing programme to identify cases of the newly identified strain of Covid-19 (a) nationally (b) in Hampshire (c) in the Portsmouth South constituency and if he will make a statement
  • To ask the Secretary of State, what assessment he has made of the impact of the newly identified strain of Covid-19 on the capacity of healthcare settings (a) nationally (b) in Hampshire (c) in the Portsmouth South constituency and if he will make a statement