Socialist Worker

Lockdown eases, but virus hasn’t gone away

Issue No. 2754

Schools and universities have been a breeding ground for Covid-19.

Schools and universities have been a breeding ground for Covid-19. (Pic: Michael_swan/Flickr)


Boris Johnson has confirmed that the latest planned easing of coronavirus restrictions in England will go ahead.

From Monday of next week, people will be able to meet in bigger numbers indoors and outdoors. Pubs and restaurants can serve indoors and entertainment venues can reopen along with a raft of other measures.

The changes come as recorded cases and deaths from coronavirus in Britain remain low.

There were no deaths recorded in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland on Monday—for the first time since July.

And there’s evidence that the vaccine is more effective at stopping transmission than was first thought.

It can be tempting to think that the worst has passed. Yet England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty said on Monday that the “highly transmissible” Indian virus variant has “gone up sharply” in Britain.

The Sage group of scientists that advises the government said controlling transmission will be harder as restrictions are lifted. There is still a risk of a third wave. “A variant which either substantially escapes immunity or is highly transmissible could lead to a very significant wave of infections,” Sage said last week.

Lockdown is eased but virus growing
Lockdown is eased but virus growing
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And this wave could be “potentially larger than that seen in January 2021”.

As coronavirus rages across the world, ordinary people are paying the price. Official figures show around 4,000 people are dying of the virus every day in India. The real figure will be larger.

There are more than 10,000 new deaths globally every day and nearly 700,000 new cases.

Yet the British government has refused to back lifting the patents on Covid-19 vaccines. Pharmaceutical companies’ profits come before lives.

Governments everywhere have failed to protect ordinary people. Britain is no exception.

A cluster of cases of the Indian variant in Bolton led to surge testing last weekend to try and contain the virus.

The Tories know that lifting restrictions is likely to push up cases—and are already preparing to blame ordinary people.

So to hug or not to hug is a “personal choice” according to Johnson. And while people can travel abroad, the government is “advising” us not to.

The Tories will blame reckless behaviour by ordinary people if cases rise. But it’s the Tories who have been reckless. They’ve conducted a year of failures that led to tens of thousands of deaths.

The Tories should be preparing for a potential third wave. They should be making sure a properly functioning test and trace system is in place to contain any outbreaks.

They should be putting far more funding into the NHS, training extra health workers and paying them a 15 percent rise. They are doing none of these things.


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