Star comment: We can't afford to forget about Covid

The pandemic has slipped from the news agenda.

After two years of dominating headlines, it is now outgunned by the savage war in Ukraine and by the cost of living crisis.

Though there are other hot topics for policy makers to consider, the pandemic is far from over.

In fact, the reverse is true. In recent weeks there has been a high number of cases, particularly among the young, and those are now spreading through their elderly relatives.

The end of testing has led to a new surge while the absence of masks makes it easier for the virus to be transmitted. Living with the virus means the medically vulnerable find themselves at risk.

Those on the front line find themselves battling Covid in A&E and on Covid wards. The pressure has not gone away and the work load is immense.

We should have expected normal winter pressures to have eased by now but they have not.

Our hospitals remain as busy as ever, both because of high patient numbers and also through staff sickness from Covid.

It is right that we learn to live with this illness, just so long as our immunity levels outpace the severity of the latest variant.

But, while it may be politically expedient to forget about Covid, it is still very much around. And our NHS and care sector need to have the full support to get through their crisis.

The NHS is under-funded and staff did not receive the wage rises that they imagined they would when people were applauding them from their front door steps.

The Prime Minister’s 40 extra hospitals seem not to have materialised and we must not become complacent about ongoing threats.

The killing of Sir David Amess was cowardly and cruel. Islamic State fanatic Ali Harbi Ali can reflect on his actions when he spends time in his cell. The central issue is that Sir David must not have died in vain.

MPs are in an almost impossible position. They want to be seen to be open and available to their constituents, but that also leaves them terribly vulnerable. The attacks on Sir David Amess and before that Jo Cox show the potential for tragedy. Going forward, it must be an absolute must that constituency surgeries come with a police presence. We want our MPs to be accessible, but not at any cost.

Politics is febrile. Those in power must show greater restraint, decency and cordiality in their own actions with the intention that they lead by example. They must not, however, be exposed as Sir David or Jo Cox were. We must protect our democracy from fanatics.

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