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Sadiq Khan urges PM to 'listen to science' and not backbench MPs in lifting lockdown

18 February 2021, 10:57

Sadiq Khan spoke to James O'Brien on LBC
Sadiq Khan spoke to James O'Brien on LBC. Picture: LBC

By Maddie Goodfellow

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has urged Boris Johnson to "listen to science and data rather than shouting and hectoring from his backbench MPs" as he prepares to announce his roadmap out of lockdown of Monday.

Speaking to James O'Brien during Speak to Sadiq on LBC, the mayor was asked if he is feeling a sense of "deja vu" with the calls for a "quick exit from lockdown" made by some Tory MPs.

The mayor replied: "I know all of us are frustrated and wants to get out of this lockdown as soon as possible but we learnt the lessons of the mistakes made in the past.

"I'll give you some stats which give you an idea of the scale of the challenge we face.

"Back in June last year, when the prime minister announced we would be coming out of the first lockdown, when you compare the number of people in hospitals then versus now, at the moment we have six times as many more people in hospital now than we did in June, we have eight times as many people in London on ventilators.

"And I'm afraid the really sad news is that we have fifteen times as many deaths."

He continued: "So what I hope the prime minister would do is learn the lessons of the mistakes made in the past and when he announces the rolling back on Monday to make sure he follows the data and the science, rather than the shouting and hectoring from his backbench MPs."

His comments come as a study from Imperial College London found that lockdown measures are driving down coronavirus infection levels but the overall rate remains high.

The research, which saw more than 85,000 swab tests carried out across England between February 4 and 13, showed that Covid-19 infections remained high but had dropped to just one in 200 people testing positive.

The findings from Imperial College London's React study show that infections in England declined markedly from January into February.

According to the study, the R number is 0.72 and the number of infections is halving every 14.6 days.

Researchers say there is a strong decline in the prevalence of coronavirus in England among the general population five to six weeks into lockdown, but prevalence remains at levels similar to those observed in late September 2020.

The Prime Minister is understood to be expecting evidence on the impact of the UK's jabs programme on hospital admissions and deaths by the end of Friday, ahead of setting out his "road map" next week.

But it was unclear whether the early data would include the impact on transmission, with the results of two key Public Health England studies potentially not ready until next month.

Boris Johnson has said easing England's restrictions will be done in "stages", and warned hospitality could be one of the last things to return based on last year's lockdown.

Speaking during a trip to Wales on Wednesday, the Prime Minister told reporters: "I certainly think that we need to go in stages. We need to go cautiously.

"You have to remember from last year that we opened up hospitality fully as one of the last things that we did because there is obviously an extra risk of transmission from hospitality.

"I know there's a lot of understandable speculation in the papers and people coming up with theories about what we're going to do, what we're going to say, and about the rates of infection, and so on.

"I would just advise everybody just wait, we'll try and say as much as we can on that."

Mr Johnson insisted easing the lockdown will be based on a "cautious and prudent approach".