A COUNCILLOR who spoke out against the Government in the early days of the coronavirus crisis has said it is impossible to avoid “an element of risk” as UK cities begin to reopen.

Samer Bagaeen, Conservative spokesman for health at Brighton and Hove City Council, criticised authorities in February for not providing enough information at a time when public awareness of the virus was lower and confusion was spreading in the city.

Brighton was one of the first areas in the UK to have confirmed cases of Covid-19, and GP practices had to shut for urgent deep cleaning as a result.

The Argus:

Mr Bagaeen told the PA news agency in February that he had been contacted by constituents desperate for information about the disease.

He called for “full transparency” on coronavirus, the day after the Government declared it a serious and imminent threat to the public.

Now, four months later, Mr Bagaeen told PA that information from the Government has been “better” and he has been happy with the messaging.

However, he stopped short of saying that better information-sharing at the start of the crisis would not have had an impact on the current situation.

He said: “If we were to go back four months and do things differently would the outcomes have been different? Who knows.”

Now he says the focus should be on trying to make sense of the wealth of information coming in from different agencies in order to make a plan for the city.

He said: “A lot of the messaging in the last couple of weeks is about the problems as lockdown has been lifted.

“We are probably now back at the stage of [looking at] what information we have and how we use that information for decision-making.

“Ultimately I think it’s about your perception of risk. [You can’t] eliminate risk completely, that’s impossible.”

Mr Bagaeen said it is vital that the area’s tourism industry is able to operate.

He also compared the UK’s approach to tackling the disease to that of South Korea, which has had considerably fewer cases of Covid-19 but where citizens have been subject to close monitoring.

He added: “People have had to give up personal freedoms and had to give up more information about themselves in order to be tracked and I do not know that we are still in this country prepared for something on that scale.”


  • The coronavirus Sussex Crisis Fund has been set up to help those affected by the pandemic. The Argus’s charity and American Express have each donated £50,000 to kick-start the appeal. Grants will usually be for up to £5,000. More information is available at www.sussexgiving. org.uk/apply. To donate visit www.totalgiving.co.uk/appeal/sussexcrisisfund