Ribble Valley deputy mayor says Covid-19 danger ‘exaggerated’

A senior councillor claimed the dangers of coronavirus are being exaggerated – despite Covid-19 being linked to the deaths of more than 43,000 people in the UK and  480,000 globally.

Coun Jim Rogerson, the deputy mayor of Ribble Valley Council, also questioned the lockdown restrictions, and said a herd immunity strategy would have been a “far better proposition”.

A study from Imperial College London scientists suggested lockdown had a “substantial effect” in reducing Covid-19 transmission levels, and said 500,000 in the UK would have died without any interventions.

But Coun Rogerson said he started looking further into the lockdown issues and the much-talked-of “new normal” after reading an open letter penned by Archbishop Carlo Vigano, a former Secretary-General at the Vatican.

Coun Jim Rogerson

The letter, titled Appeal for the Church and the World, read: “There are powers interested in creating panic among the world’s population with the sole aim of permanently imposing unacceptable forms of restriction on freedoms, of controlling people and of tracking their movements.”

Coun Rogerson said some of the councillors he worked with were “absolutely petrified” of the virus and he blamed overly negative national media coverage for that.

He said: “People have died and it is absolutely terrible that they have, but it is not as deadly as being made out. A big section of society are going to be too frightened to socialise with each other.

“That fear will be killing people, I have read recently two million people have missed cancer appointments.

“We’re being brainwashed to accept a lot more control over our lives. People don’t realise they will have a lot of freedoms taken away from them.

“There’s going to be a massive bill to pay for all this and the only way is through taxation and that will fall mainly on the young 30 year olds with young families and another 30 or 40 years to work.”

He added: “Ordinary people I speak to think the dangers are being over-exaggerated and they just want to get on with their lives. An open debate needs to be brought forward.”

The council appeared to distance itself from Coun Rogerson’s opinions, saying in a statement: “Although individual councillors have a democratic right to voice their views on a whole range of issues, including the pandemic lockdown, we would like to make it clear that the council follows the Government’s public health guidance on coronavirus.”

A Government spokesman told the Post: “The Government has been very clear that herd immunity has never been our policy or goal.

“Our response has ensured that the NHS has capacity for everyone who needs it, as well as providing unprecedented support for millions of workers, businesses and self-employed people.

“We have been committed to supporting everyone’s mental wellbeing throughout this period, and thanks to the public’s compliance we have announced that we will further loosen restrictions from [Saturday], July 4.”