Socialist Worker

A ‘nasty rebound’ of virus is on horizon as Tories ease lockdown

The Tory plan to reopen businesses across England comes as Covid-19 continues to kill hundreds every week, writes Tomáš Tengely-Evans

Issue No. 2711

Boris Johnson visiting a school in west London this week as the Tories push for a return to business as usual

Boris Johnson visiting a school in west London this week as the Tories push for a return to 'business as usual' (Pic: Number 10/Flickr)


Tory prime minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that coronavirus is a “disaster” and an “absolute nightmare” for Britain.

It is Johnson’s disaster—and it could get worse as the Tories push ahead with a reckless reopening of businesses this weekend.

Pubs, bars, restaurants, ­hairdressers, galleries, theatres and much more will reopen in England from this Saturday, 4 July.

The social distancing rule of two metres will decrease to “one metre plus” where two is not possible.

The change came after many bosses said reopening would not be possible with strict social distancing rules.

Various right wing pundits declared 4 July to be Britain’s coronavirus “independence day”.

Britain has the highest official death toll in Europe and the third highest in the world. Johnson, who has said he’s “very proud” of the government’s record, sits in the top three alongside Donald Trump’s US and far right president Jair Bolsonaro’s. Brazil.

Official figures show more than 43,000 people have died of coronavirus in Britain and that there have been over 311,000 confirmed cases.

The real figure is likely to be higher due to the way Covid-19 deaths are counted, with the official one only registering those who have tested positive.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) put the death toll by 12 June at more than 53,000.

Spike

The lifting of the lockdown comes amid warnings of another spike in cases. They included one from Sir Jeremy Farrar, a ­medical researcher who sits on the official Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).

He warned there could be a “very nasty rebound” of the virus in the winter and said he was “worried” about a surge in cases ahead of 4 July.

Farrar told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, “We’re on a knife edge.

“I would anticipate we would see an increase in new cases over the coming weeks.”

The number of official coronavirus deaths announced has been ­falling since mid-April.

But the downward trend slowed last week—and the danger remains high in some of the most at risk areas.

People living in British care homes are the most likely to die out of all care home residents across Europe, according to analysis by the London School of Economics.

It said the risk of death in Britain is 13 times higher than in Germany, which has also seen a surge in cases.

The Tories hope to blame ordinary people for going to beaches or parks outdoors while they herd people back to work.

If there is a fatal second wave, the blood will be on Johnson’s hands.


Longer lockdown for Leicester after rise in cases

Britain’s first “local lockdown” began on Tuesday in Leicester in the east Midlands, amid a rise in coronavirus cases.

Figures on 16 June showed that 25 percent of the city’s 2,494 cases so far had been reported in the previous two weeks.

The local lockdown means that schools will close for most children, and non-essential shops will also shut.

And the planned easing of lockdown measures across England from Saturday will be delayed.

Claudia Webbe, Labour MP for Leicester East, pinned the blame for a rise in cases on poverty and racism and called for “action to protect lives”.

She said the Tories were “too late in responding to the fact that African and Asian and minority ethnic communities are disproportionately affected”.

“The government has been too late in lockdown, too late in personal protective equipment, too late in test, track and trace,” she said.

“They have an app that doesn’t work and they are putting far too many lives at risk.

“It’s important we pin the government down to seriously look at what’s happening.”


Death rate is higher for disabled people

Shocking new figures show how disabled people have been disproportionately hit by coronavirus.

Official for National Statistics (ONS) figures show that around 22,500 disabled people in England and Wales died of Covid-19 between 2 March and 15 May.

That compares to around 15,500 non-disabled people.

The figures also show that disabled people who contract the disease have a higher risk of dying.

Younger disabled men—who are aged nine to 64 and “limited a lot” in daily life—were 6.5 times more likely to die.

Disabled women in the same age group have a death rate that is 11.3 times higher than women of the same age who are not disabled.

Overall around 1,600 disabled people in the nine to 64 age group have died of the virus compared to 2,100 non-disabled people. This figure takes into account people who are defined as both “limited a lot” and “limited a little”.

In response to the figures, disabled people’s organisations are demanding an inquiry into the disproportionate deaths.

Mike Smith is the chief executive of the east London disabled people’s organisation Real. He said, “These numbers show the harsh reality that lies behind the statements that Covid-19 only affects ‘older people and those with pre‑existing conditions’.

“There is an urgent need for government to provide support for disabled people to remain safe and have a viable existence.”


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.