CAROLINE Lucas has blasted the government's test and trace system after Brighton and Hove was upgraded to an amber Covid alert.

The Brighton Pavilion MP said the system's failures had left the city with "inadequate data to have any real sense of the Covid spread in our community".

She said: "I recognise that resources are finite, but this situation was entirely predictable.

"In fact, I raised it in Parliament with the Health Secretary in September, asking how potential emerging hotspots could be identified if they weren’t priority areas for testing.

"I didn’t get a satisfactory reply and now here we are. 

“The government could and should have done more to ensure that we have a functioning test and trace system that could provide an accurate reflection of Covid spread in our communities.

"It’s been complacent, even negligent, in assuming that because the rise in cases here has not been as steep as other parts of the country, there wasn’t a problem in Brighton and Hove."

Brighton and Hove City Council announced today that the city's Covid alert level had been upgraded to amber after the number of cases almost tripled in a week.

In the week leading up to October 1 there were 115 confirmed new Covid-19 cases in the city, compared with 39 cases the week before.

Director of public health Alistair Hill said this stark increase could partly be put down to an increase in testing in the city, with the introduction of a walk-through test site at East Brighton Park late last month.

But he said that this "does not explain all the increase that we have seen".

Mr Hill said: "It’s really concerning that the number of cases has more than doubled over the past week. 

"If transmission keeps increasing we risk the government imposing more restrictions on the city. 

“We all now need to make extra efforts or risk a local lockdown."

Following this statement, Ms Lucas called for "more transparency" on the government's criteria for which areas will be placed under local lockdown.

She said: "If we are asking people to restrict their lives further, they need to know why those decisions are being made.

"It’s a basic issue of public trust, which has been sorely lacking in recent months. 

"We're now left in a position where residents in the city are at risk of restrictions if case numbers continue to climb.  

"I've been calling for the local public health teams to lead our test and trace processes.

"Yet the government seems determined to leave an over-centralised system in place, lining the pockets of private companies, rather than expand the existing public health frameworks. 

"NHS test and trace should be an NHS service, in public hands.

"We need consistency, transparency and trust to keep us safe and at the moment, ministers are not delivering that.”