Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has been speaking on BBC Breakfast this morning.
Ashworth said the government needs to have a plan which should include more targeted testing and tracing to tackle the disproportionate number of deaths in poorer areas.
He told BBC Breakfast:
My worry is that Covid-19 is going to make these health inequalities in society even worse so I’m calling on the government to have a plan to tackle these health inequalities so we don’t see this widening gap in life chances and health outcomes.
Asked about the coronavirus app, which began a trial on the Isle of Wight on Tuesday, Ashworth said he will download it but urged the government to mobilise local experts “on the ground”. He said:
I will be downloading it because we want to see it succeed, although we’ve got questions about whether it will succeed, whether privacy issues have been resolved.
But I actually think to really successfully deliver the tracing service, we need boots on the ground, we need local government public health experts, you need your environmental health experts, we need to use our expertise in local primary care services because this is a very labour intensive job and they’ve got experience.
Government looking to close wage-subsidy scheme
The chancellor, Rishi Sunak, is preparing to wind down the coronavirus wage-subsidy scheme for workers in the UK from July as part of government plans to gradually remove lockdown measures, reports my colleague Richard Partington.
With almost a quarter of employees in Britain furloughed in the past fortnight, the chancellor is expected to announce that the Covid-19 job retention scheme will be steadily scaled back as restrictions on business activity are lifted.
The Treasury is understood to be examining several options for tapering the scheme, including cutting the 80% wage subsidy paid by the state to 60% and lowering the £2,500 cap on monthly payments. Another option promoted by employers’ groups to allow furloughed staff to work, but with a smaller state subsidy, is also under consideration.
Sources indicated that a final decision has yet to be made, but the Treasury was working closely with No 10 as Boris Johnson prepares to outline plans on Sunday to gradually lift lockdown restrictions. After more than a month of tight controls on social and business activity across Britain and in other countries around the world, the UK is on the brink of the deepest recession in living memory.
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Here is a round up of the biggest stories we have today:
- Britain has the worst coronavirus death toll in Europe, official figures showed on Tuesday, prompting calls for an inquiry into the handling of the pandemic. The government’s tally of fatalities across the UK reached 29,427 for those who tested positive for coronavirus, exceeding the 29,029 recorded in Italy – until now Europe’s worst-hit country. Italy’s total does not include suspected cases.