Coronavirus cases are rising in Cornwall — but Downing Street says the Group of Seven summit held in the British town earlier this month is not to blame.
The seven-day case rate in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has soared from 4.9 per 100,000 people in early June to 130.6 per 100,000 people on June 16, the Guardian reported. Rates of infections are particularly high in Carbis Bay, where the summit was held, and several nearby areas where delegates to the gathering of world leaders stayed.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesperson on Monday denied any direct causation between the G-7 summit — with its influx of journalists, police officers and support staff — and the rise in coronavirus infection rates.
“We are confident that there were no cases of transmission to the local residents,” the unidentified spokesperson told the Guardian. “All attendees were tested, everyone involved in the G-7 work were also tested during their work on the summit.”
“We always said, following the move to Step Three, that we will see cases rising across the country,” the spokesperson continued. “That is what we’re seeing playing out.”
Last month, Johnson’s government began relaxing restrictions on many businesses and activities in what it classed as “Step Three” of a four-step reopening process.
But that plan hit a major snag last week when Johnson postponed the expected move to the final phase on June 21 — colloquially called “Freedom Day” — due to continually rising cases driven by the delta variant, first detected in India.
Some health experts have suggested that the surge in Cornwall cases has been driven by infections among students, as well as increased travel among young people during the summer break from school. Young people ages 15 to 24 have predominantly fallen sick this round.
Cornwall is one of Britain’s poorest regions and relies heavily on tourism.
But Andrew George, a former member of Parliament with the Liberal Democrats party and now a Cornwall councilor, told British media that the government needed to release its risk assessment for the summit.
“The correlation between G-7 and the tsunami of COVID-19 caseload in St. Ives/Carbis Bay and Falmouth is undeniable,” he said. “It ought to drive public bodies to at the very least maintain an open mind about the connection between the two.”
He continued, “Those who were responsible for that decision and for the post-G-7 summit COVID-19 case management and assessment should be held to account for their decisions and actions.”