Yorkshire MP Jon Trickett calls for Government to tackle region's high coronavirus infection rates as workplace outbreaks continue

A Yorkshire MP has called on the Government to take fresh action to bring down high rates of Covid-19 infections after it emerged that more than a third of England's recent workplace outbreaks were in the region.

By Rob Parsons
Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 5:45 am

Jon Trickett will argue in a Westminster Hall debate today that infection rates in Yorkshire and the Humber are "still raging" because people in the region are more likely to have to leave the house to work.

And the Hemsworth MP says the Government should deploy 'rapid response teams' to areas with high infection rates so local health groups can tailor their response more effectively.

He said: "The vaccine in itself is no panacea to this pandemic. It will continue to pose risks to my community and others. This would be one tool to tackle this more effectively."

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MP Jon Trickett will say Wakefield has a much higher rates of Covid-19 infections than the local areas of Matt Hancock and Boris Johnson. Stock image

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The latest data shows the number of cases per 100,000 people for Yorkshire and the Humber is 58.8 despite falling steadily since January. This is the highest rate of any region in the country and more than twice the average for England.

And the most recent list of local authority areas with the highest rates of new coronavirus infections shows Doncaster, Barnsley, Hull, Rotherham and Bradford in the top ten nationwide.

A recent Public Health England report reveals that Yorkshire and the Humber saw 75 Covid outbreaks at workplaces in the last four weeks. This represents more than a third of England's total of 207 despite the region only having a tenth of the country's population.

Mr Trickett in his speech will point to people in Yorkshire much less likely to work from home than other areas of the country.

Some 37.6 per cent of those in employment in the region worked from home as of this month, compared with 57.2 per cent in London and a UK average of 46.6 per cent.

The MP said the occupational structure of so-called 'red wall' areas and Yorkshire in particular meant a greater risk of workplace infections.

And he said: "Work from home data shows that manual, semi-skilled and front-facing roles tend to have higher levels of working on site. Professional classes and the hospitality sector had higher levels of work from home, and furlough respectively."

He will say today there is a strong argument that existing regional inequalities are being exacerbated by austerity and that in Yorkshire, especially rural areas, access to critical care beds is much lower.

Mr Trickett said: “It is completely unacceptable that once again the government’s decisions are based on what is happening in the south of the country, when up here in Yorkshire the infection rates are still raging.

"I demand that the government takes immediate action to correct this injustice.

“There is a class dimension to this, as well as a regional one. It is the low paid working class who are most exposed by the government’s failures.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "Protecting communities and saving lives is always our first priority.

“Workplaces across the country have been able to register for free, rapid Covid testing to break chains of transmission and protect those who cannot work from home.

“Our vaccination programme continues to make phenomenal progress – with over 43 million vaccines administered so far – reaching every part of the UK.”