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Zero Covid campaigners warn government against complacency

Weekly registered Covid deaths pass 1,000 for first time in eight months

TORY ministers must not be complacent in the fight against Covid-19, Labour’s left and trade unions warned today, as weekly registered virus deaths passed 1,000 for the first time in eight months.

Official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show there were 1,020 deaths with coronavirus mentioned on the death certificate registered in the week ending November 12.

Covid-19 accounted for about one in 12 of all fatalities registered over that week, up 3 per cent from the previous week, when 995 deaths were registered.

It is the first time the weekly total has topped a thousand since the week ending March 12, during the third national lockdown.

Registered deaths with the virus rose in six of the nine English regions while 101 care home residents died with the disease, down slightly from the previous week.

There were 42,484 positive tests today, as cases continue to creep up, while 165 deaths were reported. 

Cases in many parts of continental Europe are now rising more rapidly. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has admitted that the country is in the midst of a fourth wave, while Austria entered a new 10-day lockdown on Monday.

In light of the growing threat, former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott called for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to prepare to move to “plan B” restrictions to help avoid another lockdown and more deaths.

According to a government policy paper published in September, the measures would “help control transmission of the virus while seeking to minimise economic and social impact.”

This would include more home-working and mask-wearing, but shops and hospitality businesses would remain open and there would be no restrictions on movement.

The MP for Hackney North & Stoke Newington told the Morning Star that ministers are once again “pretending that everything is fine and we are ‘world-beating.’

“The situation is actually very grim, even before the winter flu season.

“As a minimum the government should be making plans now to move rapidly to ‘plan B’ and stop the freedom of movement of the virus.”

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The fatality rate is a sombre reminder that the pandemic is far from over. But the government is not taking some of the easiest and most important steps to reduce the spread of the virus.

“Mask-wearing should be compulsory on all public transport and in shops. And there are still two million workers without sick pay protection, which puts lives at risk because it makes isolation impossible for those who can’t afford it.

“Sick pay should be there for every worker — and worth a real living wage.”

And Unison head Christina McAnea urged people to take precautions wherever they can to avoid a return to restrictions and hospitals becoming overwhelmed.

She said: “That means ​us all wearing face coverings in public places and keeping a safe distance, ​as well as getting booster jabs as soon as it’s our time to do so.

“Even better, the government should act now to introduce ‘plan B’ ​and make mask-wearing mandatory again.

“Health services are already under huge pressure. We all must play ​our part in reducing the risks.”

Nearly 170,000 people have died with the virus in Britain so far, according to death certificates, the ONS confirms, while the BBC reports that about 5.1 million have lost their lives across the globe. 

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