Sadiq Khan has urged the prime minister to ban household visits immediately in London, claiming the situation in the capital is much worse than first believed.
The mayor of London has warned a 43% fall in testing across the city has masked the severity of the second Covid-19 wave, saying the real infection rate is not far behind hotspots in the north-east.
He has accused the Government of ‘pointing the finger at the public’ for rocketing case numbers and ‘not learning lessons’ from when the virus initially hit at the beginning of the year.
It comes as London is placed on the national coronavirus watchlist, with new figures showing 620 new cases were confirmed in the capital on Friday – more than double the number at the start of the week.
Speaking to The Guardian, Mr Khan revealed City Hall staff began to investigate case numbers in the capital in September after being left unconvinced by official figures.
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After analysing visits to GPs, calls to NHS 111 and hospital admissions, they came to the conclusion that London was not far behind highly infected places like the north-east and Birmingham.
The politician said the 43% fall in testing between mid-August and mid-September ‘beggars belief’, with known-hotspots prioritised as schools, universities and offices opened across the nation.
He added that Boris Johnson was ‘surprised’ when he requested additional measures in London on Tuesday – including a ban on household visits – in their first conversation since May.
Mr Khan said: ‘We all knew that in September there would be a greater need for testing.
‘I’m really angry. It’s another example of lessons not being learned. You can explain the delay, incompetence in March. There’s no excuse now.’
He continued: ‘If you go too late, we will already be in a north-east, north-west, Birmingham-type situation. You’ve got to go early, particularly in the absence of testing.’
The prime minister came under fire on Tuesday after he was questioned on why other countries like Italy and Germany appear to have recovered better from the first wave of the pandemic.
Appearing the blame the British public for spikes in case numbers, he replied: ‘There is a difference between our country and others. Ours is a freedom-loving country… It’s very difficult to ask the British population uniformly to obey guidelines in the way that is necessary.’
Mr Khan has slammed the Tory leader’s response, saying it is ‘offensive’ when ‘many [members of the public] are doing the right thing’.
He said ‘We saw Boris Johnson demonstrating two traits this week that many of us know him for: ignorance and arrogance.’
It comes as 38 new areas are added to the coronavirus ‘watch list’ and scientists warn of ‘50,000 cases a day’ if infections keep rising.
Meanwhile, an alarming report presented to the Government’s key advisors has warned almost 75,000 people could die from non-coronavirus causes as a result of the UK lockdown.
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