The Tories are quietly removing our Covid protections under the cover of headlines about a Russian invasion of Ukraine, which US and UK Intelligence reliably inform us will happen this year, next year, sometime, never.
Legally enforceable regulations will all be ending. All rules about mask wearing will go. Not just in shops and places of entertainment, but in hospitals and care homes as well. Instead people are being ‘advised’ to wear masks in crowded indoor areas and are expected to exercise ‘common sense’ over hand washing and social distancing. There is no additional guidance for vulnerable people. Covid passports are ending and so are requirements to self-isolate for people who test positive, along with the requirement for close contacts to be tested. Broadly similar measures are happening in Northern Ireland and Wales. Scotland is proceeding at a slightly slower pace.
Living With Covid
This is called Living with Covid. But it is apparent the Tories would prefer us to forget about Covid and to forget about their own disastrous handling of the pandemic.
Living with Covid does not mean ignoring Covid. We still need to be proactive in monitoring its prevalence and improving our data collection rather than winding it down. This government is saying in effect, “OK, we’ve had a fire. It’s going out now, so we don’t need that fire engine anymore. Do you know what it costs to keep a fire engine in a fire station doing nothing when there isn’t a fire? Not to mention maintaining and paying a fire crew to man the fire engine to do nothing every day that there isn’t a fire?”
Yeah. By the same logic, why are we spending billions on a nuclear deterrent for a threat that may never happen?
As I write, on Wednesday 16th February, the latest statistics on the UK government website are:
|16th Feb 2022
|16th Feb 2021
|Daily Hospital Admissions:
|Total Covid Cases in Hospital:
|Total Covid Cases on Ventilators:
Cases are higher, deaths are lower. We have fewer people in hospital, fewer people in intensive care. But it is only thanks to vaccines that the UK is able to consider removing all restrictions. The Delta variant, with far fewer cases than Omicron, wreaked havoc on an unvaccinated population in 2020/2021.
The world as a whole is still unvaccinated. And while that state of affairs persists there will always be new variants emerging. Everyone fears the Omega variant – resistant to vaccines, as transmissible as Omicron and as deadly as Delta. It has not happened yet, but when it does will we have the necessary public health measures in place to act?
The omens are not good. We can expect this government to end free testing on financial grounds. So we lose an important source of data. Covid has germinated and spread amongst the poor, who will not be able to afford privatised testing. They also cannot afford to go on the sick, given the disgustingly low rate of SSP in the UK. Yet the government equivocates over extending the £500 support for people who have to self isolate to supplement sick pay for Covid sufferers. This may be an unequal opportunity government, but Covid is an equal opportunity virus which does not recognise social boundaries. It infects the rich as well. And thanks to the cost of living crisis, the poor are a growing demographic who will spread new variants across the social divide.
Wear A Mask
The World Health Organisation sees the bigger picture. Yesterday they appealed to western nations which have used their economic muscle to vaccinate themselves out of a crisis to WEAR A MASK. We are still in the grip of a pandemic. As a nation we have used our financial muscle to mitigate its effects on us for now. But this has been a very uneven benefit. The rich have become richer. The poor have become poorer. More of us died. More of them lived. The government is clearly pursuing a policy of defending the economy at the expense of society.
The Tories want us to Stay Quiet, Protect the Rich and Die. There is an alternative. Instead of SOCI-ety finding itself opposed by the interests of capit-ALISM, we could have a world in which the interests of the people merged with the needs of the economy. Let’s call it SOCI-ALISM.
Life long socialist. Now retired, I have been an office junior, a bookseller, a docker and a teacher. I write a lot and read a lot more. Committed member of the Society of Authors, English PEN and the National Education Union. Never voting Labour again.