It is no secret that Leicester is a city which has a higher-than-average rate of Covid-19 infections, and so when all the city’s education unions requested that our Labour City Council continue to adopt a safety-first approach with regards to the wearing of masks in secondary schools and colleges you might have thought the leaders of the Council would listen. You would however be wrong. Labour apparently prefers to listen to the lying Tories than listen to trade unions!
So, on Monday (May 17) Leicester’s Labour Council simply followed the Tories dangerous lead and informed schools and parents that mask wearing was no longer necessary within classrooms packed full of students. They did this knowing full well that Leicester was known to be a hotspot for the new Indian variant, and despite the fact that infection rates (and positivity rates) had been rising in the week before the relaxation of the covid rules came to pass.
What we do know (from the data presented on the Council’s website) is that the age group in which covid infections has been increasing fastest is in those aged 18 to 21. Since April 23 the rate of infection within this age group has been rising at a fair old pace, from a low of 22.4 cases per 100,000 population on April 23 to 86.6 on May 14 (the latest day for which data is currently available).
What we also know is that the government is at fault again when it comes to the spread of the Indian variant. The government, despite their bare-faced lies, knew that they should have put India on the red-list much earlier than they did.
The government also know that they should have informed local authorities about people returning from India so they could make sure they were able to self-isolate; and the government know that they should be providing adequate funding to help people be able to self-isolate (a problem that is particularly important in areas like Leicester where insecure, low-paid work dominates).
We also know, as does Leicester City’s Labour Council, that the virus is spreading within our schools and continues to be spread between children and their parents.
Furthermore, because the government refused to prioritise surge vaccination locally among younger populations (they only belatedly did so yesterday, May 19), only 15% of people below the age of 40 have been vaccinated in Leicester. This means that at the very least the Council should be encouraging the wearing of masks in secondary schools and in colleges, especially as we know that the new Indian variant that is spreading in Leicester and within our schools is able to hospitalise older people who have received only their first vaccination.