Socialist Worker

Lockdown is eased but virus growing

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2749

Boris Johnson is continuing with his roadmap to reopen

Boris Johnson is continuing with his roadmap to reopen (Pic: Flickr/ Number 10)


The Tories plan to further ease lockdown measures across England from next week.

All shops will reopen along with outdoor service at pubs, restaurants and cafes.

People will be able to visit hairdressers, indoor gyms, pools and libraries.

At a press conference on Monday afternoon, Boris Johnson said, “We are setting out our roadmap to freedom and we are sticking to it." 

He claimed, “We see no sign in our present data to think that we will have to deviate from the programme." 

Official daily figures for new cases and recorded deaths have fallen. But there are still thousands of new cases every day.

Positive 

The latest Office for National Statistics infection survey for the week ending 27 March showed that the percentage of people testing positive increased in the East of England.

Positivity rates have also increased week on week in 117 out of 315 English local authorities and cases among under 20s have risen in most regions.

Cases have soared in schools since they fully ­reopened last month.

There were 49 reported outbreaks across all ­education settings between 8 and 14 March, Public Health England figures show.

Yet between 15 and 21 March this had nearly doubled to 96. And between 22 and 28 March there were a further 107 recorded outbreaks.

The danger posed by coronavirus has not gone away. But Boris Johnson is determined to end the current lockdown regardless of the risks.

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The Tories say adults in England will be offered two lateral flow tests a week from Friday. People should demand more tests, but we need much more to stop the spread of the virus.

Stephen Reicher from a subcommittee of the government’s Sage group of scientists said testing alone is “no solution”.

He said up to 50 percent of self-administered lateral flow tests resulted in false negatives.

And he said there had to be a proper contact ­tracing system and support for people self-isolating.

“The government keeps seeking quick fixes,” said Reicher.

“What they consistently fail to do is to build a system in which all the parts work together to contain the virus.”

But we can resist the Tories’ drive to put profits first.

Civil service workers at the DVLA in Swansea struck over coronavirus safety fears this week after over 600 of them tested positive for the virus since September.

In January, workers’ ­widespread refusal to return to primary schools forced the Tories to include schools in the lockdown.

We need more action to stop the spread of Covid‑19 and thousands more ­unnecessary deaths.


Vaccine passports will deepen racial divide

Boris Johnson has again raised the prospect of a “vaccine passport” system as a way out of lockdown.

So-called “Covid-status certification” could allow people to return to large audience events, such as football matches, plays and gigs. But there are grave dangers.

First, there are vast differences in the level of vaccination take up.

In part this reflects levels of people’s distrust of the state and Big Pharma.

But some have had difficulty accessing vaccines, or in getting time off to get over side effects afterwards.

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Just 58.8 percent of black Africans over 70 years old have been vaccinated, compared to 91.3 percent of white people in the same age range.

Any passport scheme will further entrench social divisions that discourage ethnic minorities from taking part in events, shopping or socialising in public spaces.

There are also signs that the government wants to quickly expand the scheme to push more people back to offices and factories.

Second, vaccine passports encourage a false sense of security and will likely end up eroding measures such as social distancing.

Adults who have been vaccinated can still contract the disease—and even if they have a mild infection they can still pass on the virus.


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