A Brexiteer MP has claimed that a 49% drop in positive coronavirus cases in Londonderry was not down to an increase in lockdown restrictions.
Appearing on BBC Good Morning Ulster, Sammy Wilson, DUP MP, pointed to a spike in his constituency eight weeks ago which he said was remedied through a targeted intervention at a meat factory than general widespread restrictions.
He said: “I don’t think the general lockdown is necessarily the reason why you’ve had the reduction in Londonderry.
“I think the important thing is to trace where is the source of the infection and then take that specific action.”
Probed on warnings the virus was spread in the north west by the Chief Scientific Officer, Wilson said: “With all due respect, I don’t think they were able to isolate exactly what was happening in Londonderry but part of it was because there had been some celebrations after some Gaelic football occasion.”
He continued: “You’ve got to then ask, does the general lockdown and the impact that it may have on a respiratory disease – one particular aspect of peoples’ health in our country – does that justify the damage which is done otherwise to businesses and to other peoples’ health.”
Wilson has come under frequent criticism this year for appearing to contradict his party’s policy on coronavirus and questioned the health benefit of face masks.
He was recently pictured on a London train without a face covering and compared the UK to East Germany “under the Stasi” when the photo was posted on social media.
Reacting to Wilson’s interview, SDLP MLA Colin McGrath commented on Twitter: “So Sammy is dismissing scientists’ views, medical advice given, frontline staff claims & the actual factual figures presented on the impact of lockdown. Think he is saying we should take his word on Covid. Thankfully he isn’t in the Assembly or Executive any more.”
One user said Wilson’s comment was an “absolute embarrassment” while another added: “We all laugh at Sammy but he has to stop saying daft things like this. There are gimboids out there who believe in him and what he says.”
A third wrote: “Sammy completely lacks credibility, however, this statement undermines the entire strategy spearheaded by his own leader and frankly makes him appear extremely ridiculous. Perhaps if he encouraged some of the minor restrictions such as masks then we might not need lockdowns.”