Coronavirus update, Boris Johnson’s Britain

This 9 May 2020 video from the Stop the War Coalition in Britain says about itself:

A Message from Mark Rylance

Our top priority right now is the campaign for a global ceasefire and to pressure the government into redirecting vital funds to the NHS that are earmarked for unnecessary weapons and wars.

Campaigning requires money and commitment. We are a small team in the Stop the War national office. We depend entirely on our supporters so we are asking those who can afford to donate to our £2,000 May appeal.

By Niall Christie in Britain, 14 May 2020:

Johnson accused of committing ‘social murder’ after calling construction industry back to work

Grassroots campaigners Shut the Sites urge workers to ask bosses for a Covid-19 risk assessment

GRASSROOTS campaigners have accused Boris Johnson of “social murder” after he called for the construction industry to return to work.

Shut the Sites (STS) campaign members set out their demands to the Prime Minister after he said those in the industry should be “actively encouraged to go to work” despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Site workers say social distancing is all-but impossible in the industry, and that in the absence of mass-testing the government is taking chances with people’s lives.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that keeping sites open has led to construction workers dying at three times the rate of healthcare professionals.

Workers fear that hundreds more will die if the policy is allowed to continue and are demanding that all non-essential construction sites are closed immediately.

Open University social-policy department head Professor Steve Tombs said: “The government, HSE and Public Health England must know that on site, and as they travel to and from work, construction workers are exposed to, and are unwitting carriers of, coronavirus.

“In my view, it is criminal negligence, it is manslaughter, it is social murder.”

The criticism was raised as part of an online video featuring health-and-safety experts, academics and people in the industry, including the daughter of one man forced to return to work who now fears for his safety.

Alongside the closure of building sites, campaigners are also pushing for all workers to be paid irrespective of whether they are employees, self-employed or agency workers.

Employment-relations Professor Sian Moore said: “If the government wants to protect public health it needs to pay construction workers to stay at home.”

Construction worker Tony Seaman added: “Self-employed and agency workers should be paid as well. No-one should be left in poverty.”

STS is a grassroots movement set up by a group of construction workers including an electrician, engineer, bricklayer and project manager.

The group has become the voice of workers who feel they cannot speak out due to concerns over blacklisting, with those still on site being encouraged to join a union and take action collectively to protect themselves.

STS and construction workers recognise the need for some essential work to continue, but they say this must be done under the highest possible level of health and safety to protect staff.

Under Section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Act, as well as Section 44 of the Employment Rights Act, staff have the legal right to remove themselves from the workplace if they feel their health and safety is being put at risk.

Construction workers are now being advised to ask for Covid-19 risk assessments.

STS member Lizzie Williams, a project manager, said: “We have too many big companies especially putting profit before lives and that’s a breach of their statutory duty of care.

“If you are working on a site, ask for your Covid-19 risk assessment.”

The government had not responded to requests for comment as the Star went to press.

A&E VISITS in England have halved since the coronavirus outbreak started, dropping to their lowest level since records began. Before the pandemic, more than 2.1m patients a month were visiting A&E. In April that dropped to 916,581. Everything from cancer care to routine surgery has been hit hard by coronavirus, and the complete lack of preparation to deal with the virus by Tory governments: here.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 15 May 2020:

‘Horrific’ increase of Covid-19 deaths in care homes and death toll tops 12,500

THE increase in care-sector deaths during the coronavirus pandemic was branded “horrific” today as figures showed that more than 12,500 people in care homes have died of Covid-19.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed that more than one in four deaths in care homes in England and Wales between March 2 and May 1 involved Covid-19.

Some 45,899 care home residents died during this period, with more than a quarter having Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate.

Of the 12,526 coronavirus deaths, 72 per cent occurred in a care home and the virus was the leading cause of death among male patients at such sites.

In the light of the new figures, Labour has called for greater priority to be given to social care.

“It is horrific to see such a large increase in the number of people dying in care homes, and it’s clear that the virus is having an even bigger impact on care-home residents than was first thought,” shadow social-care minister Liz Kendall said.

“The government has been too slow to get to grips with this problem.

“Despite recent announcements there is still complete confusion about testing, with care homes telling MPs they have been unable to access tests.

“This is not good enough. Supporting people in care homes must be an absolute priority and the government must now give social care the focus, resources and support it needs to stop the spread of this awful virus.”

Meanwhile Scottish Labour called for the withdrawal and correction of guidance regarding coronavirus and care homes published by Health Protection Scotland this week.

The party said it has serious concerns over the quality of the advice and the prospect of delays to urgent testing.

The document advises that if there is an outbreak of coronavirus in a care home which is part of a group or chain, testing should be carried out “urgently.”

Despite this, the party says, the guidance states that a contingency plan must be in place before that testing is carried out.

And amid reports that care workers are struggling to access Covid-19 tests, testing centres also reportedly closed early this week due to lack of demand.

Labour MSP Monica Lennon said: “We can’t take any chances with care-home safety.

“Care homes are at the centre of the crisis and we can’t afford any more missed opportunities to save lives.

“The guidance is nowhere close enough to a comprehensive testing policy for care homes.”

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 15 May 2020:

Government urged to stop fat cats from preventing public access to a coronavirus cure

Real cats, fat or not, can also get infected with coronavirus. But the article means these figurative fat cats.

CAMPAIGNERS and patients demanded the government make concrete commitments on access to Covid-19 treatments today, after a report warned that profiteers could prevent Britain obtaining potential vaccines.

BBC Newsnight reported that fair access to a cure could be stymied by a number of issues — including Britain’s own role in slowing negotiations around pharmaceutical monopolies ahead of a crucial World Health Organisation (WHO) meeting on Monday.

In response, campaigners urged the government to impose conditions on Britain’s funding policies to ensure that all publicly funded Covid-19 vaccines and treatments are patent-free.

This means that licences must be non-exclusive, royalty-free, transparent and worldwide, they said.

The government claims it has committed £544 million to the research and development of Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, yet the fund lacks conditions to safeguard access and affordability to ensure they reach all who need it, especially the most vulnerable.

Ruling out pharmaceutical monopolies would prevent corporations profiteering and price-gouging, campaigners said — and will be necessary to enable mass production at the scale required by global demand.

It will also enable other researchers to build on the knowledge and technologies that arise from publicly-funded research, to speed up progress towards finding a vaccine.

Global Justice Now campaigner Heidi Chow said: “Pharmaceutical monopolies prevent patient access to essential medicines at the best of times but in the current pandemic, public health must come before profiteering.”

Just Treatment lead organiser Diarmaid McDonald said: “With the world facing an unprecedented health crisis it would be totally unacceptable for drug companies to take taxpayer-funded research into tools to fight Covid-19 and use it to turn monopoly profits at the expense of patients’ health.”

3 thoughts on “Coronavirus update, Boris Johnson’s Britain

  1. Pingback: Again, health minister quits in Bolsonaro’s Brazil | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Hundreds of corovirus deaths in Saudi-occupied Aden | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: COVID-19 disaster in Johnson’s Britain, update | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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