Andy Richardson: 'We must get it right – and fast'
It will take years to properly understand why England is the worst nation in Europe when it comes to dealing with Covid-19.
On the face of it, it ought not to be. An island nation, like New Zealand, which has eliminated Covid, we are one of the richest in the world with one of the most advanced health care systems. The rate of public adherence to health measures was high; or, at least it was until you know who went you know where to test his blinkin’ eye sight.
So if the public are not to blame – and despite Tories blaming BAME groups, despite protests in the streets, despite mini raves and those Mad Dogs and Englishmen heading to Bournemouth beach, they’re generally not – then who is?
Poverty, rather than ethnicity, is thought to be driving the present increase in the North West, following a similar spike in Leicester, where people are simply unable to physically distance because they live in cramped housing or have jobs where they are packed into confined spaces.
The late lockdown and the failure to self-isolate thousands of people who returned from winter holidays in Spain and Italy sowed the seeds for hundreds of outbreaks across the UK.
The Government’s decision to send asymptomatic people into care homes led to tens of thousands of avoidable deaths.
More were caused by the failure to provide adequate PPE to those who needed it most.
Communication was also poor – as it still is – while Sir Paul Nurse, a nobel laureate scientist, has said decisions shrouded in secrecy has made the public distrusting of politicians.
And then there is the ongoing issue of our inexplicable failure to get to grips with track and trace, which is under control in many less privileged nations around the world.
As cases across Europe start to rise, Britain has a chance to do things differently. The Government must throw a protective ring around care homes now, to avoid the horrors of spring.
Things are going to get no better until we have a vaccine, which may be as early as the end of 2020. Until then, we must get used to physical distancing.
Lest we forget, September brings the return of schools and the mixing of households.
Autumn and winter bring higher infections as the weather deteriorates and people fall ill.
We must get it right – and fast.
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