By Maria Zaccaro, Local Democracy Reporter
A Southampton MP has said the government should hand more powers to local authorities in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Alan Whitehead, MP for Southampton Test, is said to be “sceptical” about the government approach in tackling an increase in coronavirus cases.
Restrictions are now in place across the country as the Prime Minister announced a new three-tier system.
The move has been defended by Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith who described the new system as straightforward.
The government said it is providing tests “at an unprecedented scale” and is working closely with local leaders.
But Dr Whitehead said: “I think the government needs to urgently look at their test, trace and isolate system and start looking at handing this to local authorities. I think our public health team in Southampton have done a brilliant job so far and I would have more confidence in the system if they were in charge of it.”
Southampton City Council leader Christopher Hammond said he would welcome a more localised approach.
He added: “This shouldn’t be an attempt to shift blame or divert responsibility of the national systems needed to combat the virus. We’re hoping the Conservative Government can get off the backfoot and fix their continuing failures on Test and Trace. It needs an urgent push to improve and to contact more people within a 24 hours period, to give us the best chance of isolating those with Covid-19.”
The total number of coronavirus cases has risen to 1,353 in Southampton and 6,995 in Hampshire.
Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith said the tier system is “easy to understand”.
But he added: “We can’t control the spread of the virus unless people follow the guidelines. If people aren’t concerned about themselves, they ought to be concerned about spreading the virus to others who may become very unwell or worse.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said:“NHS Test and Trace is breaking chains of transmission thanks to local and national teams working hand in glove – almost 700,00 people who may otherwise have unknowingly spread coronavirus have been contacted and told to isolate. We’re working with Directors of Public Health and have more than doubled the size of local health protection teams to increase local contact tracing and stop outbreaks. We are reaching the vast majority of people testing positive and their contacts and are providing tests at an unprecedented scale, with capacity being expanding further to 500,000 tests a day by the end of October.”
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