Analysis by the Labour Party claimed the COVID-19 outbreak in prisons was beginning to spread out of control, with a record number of deaths in December. A party press release claimed: “By 30 November 2020, a total of 47 prisoners died either having tested positive for COVID-19 or where there was a clinical assessment that Covid-19 was a contributory factor in their deaths, the party claims.
“In the month of December alone there were 24 new prisoner deaths, bringing the total death toll to 71.”
In the release, David Lammy MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, said: “It is frightening that the government has lost control of the virus in prisons.
“More staff and inmates will die if Ministers do not get control of this pandemic.
“Outbreaks in prisons can also pump the virus outside of their walls, overwhelming local hospitals and infecting the rest of the community.
“The government must rapidly roll out vaccines across the country so that we can secure our economy, protect our NHS and rebuild Britain.”
However, emails sent by Labour staffers showed confusion as to whether to include previous months figures because it could confuse the media.
One email by a staffer suggested: “Do you need to add any pre-dec data into notes maybe?”
But a second email warned on the pre-December figures from a colleague: “We don’t want to put it into the body as slightly confusing to refer to a previous month.”
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The Labour leader said the country is “at the most serious stage” of the pandemic “and that calls for the most serious restrictions”.
Answering questions following a speech setting out his approach to the crisis, Sir Keir said: “There probably is more that we could do.
“An example is the question of whether nurseries should be open.”
He said Boris Johnson should hold daily press conferences “ramming home” the message to “stay at home”.