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Government denies G7 summit behind Cornwall Covid-19 spike

The government has denied that a rise in coronavirus infections in Cornwall is linked to the recent G7 summit.

Figures for the seven days to June 14 show that Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly had the fourth-highest week-on-week rise in infections – with only North Tyneside, Liverpool and County Durham higher.

This has led some to blame the June 11-13 gathering of world leaders in Carbis Bay as the cause of the increase.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosted US President Joe Biden and other world leaders in Carbis Bay (Leon Neal/PA).Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosted US President Joe Biden and other world leaders in Carbis Bay (Leon Neal/PA).

Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosted US President Joe Biden and other world leaders in Carbis Bay (Leon Neal/PA)

The government said there was always likely to be an increase in infections since restrictions in England were eased in May and indoor hospitality was allowed.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “Participants going to the G7 were tested before arrival and throughout the summit. We are not aware of any cases of transmission to local residents.

“We have always said that following step three (of the Government’s road map out of lockdown) we will see cases rise across the country. That’s how we see it play out.”

Andrew George, a Cornwall councilor and former Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives, called for the government’s risk assessment for the summit to be published, alongside public health data to understand the cause of the rise.

“The correlation between the G7 and the tsunami of Covid-19 cases in St Ives/Carbis Bay and Falmouth is undeniable,” he said.

“It should prompt public bodies to at least keep an open mind about the connection between the two.

“But Cornwall Council’s health chief has already said that ‘the G7 is not the cause of this new increase.’

“Such attempts to prematurely deny the possibility that the G7 summit was a significant cause of this outbreak undermines trust in those charged with responsibility for protecting public health and raises concerns that public bodies are being used to support a partisan-led cover-up. .

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“To protect the Conservatives from criticism for what could have been a cavalier decision not to hold the event online to protect public health.”

Mr George asked if the government had made “a serious attempt” to undertake a Covid-19 risk assessment for the summit.

“And even if it was undertaken, did those responsible for deciding whether to go ahead or not take it into account or was this just another government disregard for public safety?” he asked.

“Those who were responsible for that decision and for the management and assessment of Covid-19 cases after the G7 summit should be held accountable for their decisions and actions.”

He added: “No doubt the half-term has played a part in the rise, but I would expect it to be no worse than other representative areas.

“The addition of media and security staff flying in from overseas, I suspect, created the perfect storm for St Ives and Falmouth.

“We need evidence to explain the rate increase and reject the above interpretation.

“Only then can we rule out the G7 development as a very significant contributor to the tsunami that hit St Ives.”

Cornish historian and academic Bernard Deacon said the three areas in Cornwall with the highest rates of coronavirus infections were St Ives and Falmouth – linked to the G7 – and Newquay, where many visitors stayed.

“The correlation between the presence of G7 staff and the highest rates is unmistakable,” he said.

“Yet strangely, Cornwall Council, the NHS Trust and sections of the local media continue to claim that preparations for the G7 had absolutely nothing to do with this increase.

“Instead, they claim it was caused by students, visitors during the half-term week of May 29 to June 5, the general relaxation of regulations and, most bizarrely, that residents left mid-term, contracted the virus and then brought it home with them.

“The evidence that the preparations for the G7 acted as a super-spreader is overwhelming, while the official line is not credible.”

Clock: Joe and Jill Biden attend morning service in Cornwall