Covid death toll highest since March as bereaved families call for inquiry to start this year

The UK recorded its highest coronavirus daily death toll since March yesterday, as those who have lost relatives called for the start of a nationwide inquiry into the pandemic to start before the end of the year.

A woman wearing a facemask in a clothing shop in central London, during the easing of lockdown restrictions in England (PA/Victoria Jones)

The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group want leaders in the UK Government, as well as those in Wales and Northern Ireland to follow the example of Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who announced yesterday that an independent inquiry would begin by the end of this year.

Another 174 deaths within 28 days of a positive test for Covid-19 were added to the daily record of figures on Tuesday, which was the highest single day figure since March 12.

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At the same time, another 30,838 cases of the illness were confirmed as rates continue to slowly slope upwards.

Ms Sturgeon promised that the inquiry in Scotland will be established by the end of the year and would look into “all matters related to the handling of the pandemic that are within our devolved competence”, which will include events in care homes.

Lobby Akinnola, a member of the bereaved families group, accused Boris Johnson, as well as the Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive of “kicking the UK-wide inquiry continually into the long grass”.

The 30-year-old, who lost his 60-year-old father Olufemi Akinnola with coronavirus in April 2020 said: “This simply isn’t good enough and it’s time for the UK government, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Irish Executive to show some leadership and rise to the occasion and ensure statutory inquiries commence before the end of the year within the devolved administrations and for the UK.”

Nicola Sturgeon said the processes for starting the inquiry in Scotland are underway, but stressed that the government north of the border would “liaise closely” with the UK Government and other devolved administrations on a UK wide inquiry.

“It will be important to avoid duplication and overlap,” Ms Sturgeon said.

“However the need for co-operation with other governments is not in my view a reason to delay the establishment of our own inquiry. I do believe a full public inquiry has an extremely important role to play, both in scrutinising the decisions that we took (...) but also of course in identifying and learning appropriate lessons for the future.”