How many people died in Barnet during the coronavirus pandemic?

As senior civil servants and key aides to Boris Johnson are questioned by the Covid-19 inquiry Andrew Dowdeswell, Data Reporter, reveals how many people have died of the coronavirus since the pandemic erupted in 2020.

red hearts on a grey wall with a bunch of daffodils laid at the base
Flowers by the The National Covid Memorial Wall in London.

This week senior civil servants and key aides to Boris Johnson have been questioned by the Covid-19 inquiry.

The inquiry is in the second module, which looks at political governance and aims to learn lessons for the future.

Dominic Cummings, who was Mr Johnson’s top adviser, and Lee Cain, the former director of communications for No 10, were questioned on Tuesday, while Helen MacNamara, who served as deputy cabinet secretary and ethics chief, and Professor David Halpern, who headed up the Behavioural Insights Team, provided evidence on Wednesday.

Each exposed the Government’s poor preparedness and ill decision-making in dealing with the pandemic, leading to more deaths than necessary.

As of October 13, 228,448 people across the UK had died with Covid-19 on their death certificate by date registered.

This included 1,219 in Barnet.

It means 306 per 100,000 people in the area have died due to Covid-19.

On Wednesday, Ms MacNamara slammed the Government’s “toxic” and “macho” culture. She said women were “ignored and excluded”, and criticised Mr Cummings calling her a “c***” in a WhatsApp message to Mr Johnson.

She also criticised then Health Secretary Matt Hancock, saying his record with the truth was questionable and had “nuclear levels” of overconfidence.

She shared an anecdote about Mr Hancock, saying he adopted a cricket batsman’s position after trying to comfort him in April 2020. She said he told her, “they bowl them at me, I knock them away”.

“Hundreds of civil servants and potentially ministers” broke lockdown rules, Ms MacNamara said, recalling there likely wasn’t a single day when the regulations were followed properly.

Later that day, Professor Halpern said he believed Mr Cummings breached Covid-19 lockdown rules, and his actions were “atrocious” and blew a hole in public confidence.

He said rule-based approaches are “brittle”, and breaches of the regulations lead to disobedience in the general public.

In a meeting in March 2020, Professor Halpern also wrote a note saying “We are not ready” in capital letters, as he realised the Government’s unpreparedness to deal with the pandemic. A colleague leaned over his shoulder and crossed out “not ready”, replacing it with “f*“, the inquiry heard.

On Tuesday, Mr Cummings took aim at much of the Government’s handling of the pandemic, which he said was “fatalistic”.

He said vulnerable and older people were neglected, and he labelled ministers as “useless fpigs, morons, c*”, but said his language understated their competence.

He also described the Cabinet Office as a “bomb site” and a “dumpster fire”.

Mr Cain repeatedly cited Mr Johnson’s tendency to “oscillate” between decisions as delaying the response, questioning Mr Johnson’s skill set to handle the pandemic.

The inquiry also saw diary entries from former chief scientist Sir Patrick Vallance, showing Mr Johnson suggested he believed the pandemic was “nature’s way of dealing with old people” as he resisted lockdowns.

In October 2020, Mr Johnson told Cain via WhatsApp: “Jeeez. I must say I have been slightly rocked by some of the data on covid fatalities. The median age is 82-81 for men 85 for women. That is above life expectancy. So get COVID and live longer.”

Mr Johnson suggested the data shows “we don’t go for nationwide lockdown”.

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