For the 3rd time, the government has imposed a lockdown - and again, long after the situation demanded it. Sunday was the 6th day in a row that more than 50,000 new Covid cases were recorded. In fact, after a small fall in the number of patients in hospital with C-19 during the November lockdown, the trend restarted from where it left off, at an even steeper rate. This number is now higher than the previous peak during April.
Even faced with the vertically rising graph of case numbers, the government had to be forcedinto closing schools, a proven source of contagion, which SAGE advisors already warned of, on 22 December! Indeed, primary schools in most of the country were still meant to open on Monday, with Johnson saying on Sunday that “schools are safe”(which he still repeats to this day, despite having now closed them!). But school staff in many places ignored him, staying at home and teaching online.
The government-appointed head of Ofsted, the education watchdog, wrote on Sunday that “We cannot furlough young people's learning or their wider development,"less than 48 hours before all schools were shut until February half-term. But what exactly has the government done since March to support young people’s “learning” or “wider development”? It did not ensure that every household had free internet nor free mobile phone access, nor even that every child had enough to eat!
Behind their hypocritical outcry over the “poor” working class children who will miss out on their “education”, the government’s only real concern is that their working class parents can carry on turning up at work. And yes, many of these parents are actually key workers - among the lowest paid and at the same time the most vital, yet also with a higher risk of infection by the virus.
Again, just like in March, we’re told that if we can’t work from home we must go to work. So construction, factory and transport workers must risk their health for the profits of the bosses. Just what is “essential” about car engines?!
And even in the food industry workers are packed in on production lines, leading to more outbreaks - as was seen throughout last year. As the government medical advisor said, “Covid loves a crowd”!
After reassuring workers that there was such a thing as a “Covid secure workplace”, we are now told that Health and Safety inspections were not even carried out during the lockdowns! So now the TUC (which knew this!) is saying that the 3X-10X increase in Covid’s spread rate means that workplace health and safety must be “upgraded”. And all work halted in the meantime? They don’t dare to say so!
Of course, the bosses are just being true to form when they put profits before lives and health. And politicians of all parties try to cover this up because that's what the capitalist system requires - a system which is not only worse than Covid, but which makes Covid much worse.
We have to take our own protective measures
Today, the inequalities that already cut life expectancy for the working class in this country (and in fact saw life expectancy falling over the 10 years to 2020), are only amplified by the pandemic.
It almost goes without saying: poor quality, overcrowded living conditions and working in a key or manual occupation (and security, transport or shopwork...) all lead to a higher risk of death from Covid-19... This second peak and its “economic” consequences were predicted. But it says it all that the government did not instruct landlords to suspend evictions (the ban is meant to end in 5 days time) and that it has not reinstated the minimal £20 supplement to Universal Credit - let alone increase it, given the number of workers who’re now without paid work!
Since February 2020, 819,000 permanent workers have disappeared from company payrolls; there are 2.7m “claimants” and another 8.9m who can’t claim. Add these up and it makes up almost 25% of the population, now living in poverty.
The bosses and their politicians, Labour included, have shown time and again that they could not care less for the lives and livelihoods of the workers. We only have to go back 3 weeks to the closure of the border due to the discovery of the new “British” virus, leaving truck drivers stuck in their cabs for days without toilets, water, food, and with the only help coming from a Sikh charity! And there is more to come as Brexit kicks in, and kicks us all, to boot!
With the government’s failures on every front, we are told by Health Secretary Hancock that the Covid vaccine (a “British world-beater”!) is our salvation. Except that the doses required are not yet manufactured, and when/if they are, new mutations might mean new vaccines would have to be produced...
So there is no choice for now, except to shut down their economy to contain Covid. And since the bosses won’t countenance it, this can only be done by the working class, by refusing to carry on exposing itself - both to the coronavirus and to the capitalist virus. And with a view to killing the latter, for good!