MP backs inquiry into handling of the pandemic after hospitals record spike in respiratory admissions late last year
A Lancashire MP has called for the Government to "focus on the lessons we need to learn to prevent" a future pandemic, after hospitals recorded a spike in admissions for respiratory-related conditions - a hallmark of Covid - months before it officially arrived on our shores.
Labour's Cat Smith spoke out after the figures revealed that all of the region's largest hospitals - Blackpool Victoria, Royal Preston, Royal Blackburn, Royal Lancaster, and Furness General - admitted more people in December than any other month in the past five years.
With more than 160 people also coming forward to say they strongly believe they had Covid-19 either late last year or early this year, it cast further doubt on the official story that the new coronavirus only emerged at the end of 2019 before making its way around the world, claiming the lives of more than one million people so far.
Despite the Government insisting there is no evidence yet of "sustained community transmission" here before January, it appeared to admit that position could change.
"As we have said, there will be opportunities to look back, analyse, and reflect on all aspects of Covid-19," a spokesman said.
"For now, the Government is focused entirely on responding to the pandemic and saving lives."
Ms Smith, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, said she has "no doubt" the Government's handling of the pandemic will be the focus of a probe.
She added: "I would support such an inquiry to assess how the Government got the management of this pandemic so wrong and focus on the lessons we need to prevent such a crisis in the future.
"At the current time, however, my priority is looking to support the measures which will bring the pandemic under control so it doesn't overwhelm our NHS and lead to more deaths and long-term health implications."
Dr John Campbell, a retired A&E nurse whose YouTube videos on the global outbreak have been watched millions of times, said the admissions data "is a strong indicator that Covid may well have been spreading" in December or January.
Despite the world not being alerted to the disease by China until December 31 last year, there are fears Covid was already spreading rapidly, with some scientists believing it erupted as early as October.
Until recently, the UK's first Covid-related death was thought to have happened in March, with the earliest recorded case caught in the UK on February 21.
But it was reported last month that Kent man Peter Attwood, 84, whose death in January was initially chalked up to heart failure and pneumonia, may have been the first victim, not just in the UK but also outside of China.