COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom

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The COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The virus reached the country in late January 2020.

Quotes in chronological order[edit]

March 2020[edit]

  • The Boris Johnson government's initial response to COVID-19 was the now discredited policy of "herd immunity" — the strategy of letting the virus rip through the population, infecting up to 40 million people, most of whom would recover and then supposedly be immune to the virus. The only problem was that this would have resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths — a prospect the Tories had to abandon in the face of expert denunciation and widespread public outrage. Johnson's change of tack was to move finally towards lockdown, advising against mass gatherings and urging people to avoid clubs, pubs, and restaurants — and most travel — as well as advising older people to self isolate. (And of course, it was only 'advisory' – so that finance capital does not have to foot the bill for hundreds of thousands of insurance claims from small businesses.)
  • But this has still left a gaping hole in government virus strategy. First, the World Health Organization (WHO) advice — "test, test, test" — is not being implemented. Health workers who were being organised to take on this role were almost immediately stood down. Everything is being done in secrecy: there is no openness, no transparency, no grown-up debate, no democratic scrutiny, no public accountability. We can only guess at the reason. Perhaps they realised it was hopeless because they didn’t have the testing kits. Perhaps it dawned on them that mass testing would reveal the vast numbers already infected and thus expose the scale of their negligence. What is certain is that willful blindness is central to Tory policy. There is virtually no testing anywhere. The WHO policy that you test, you trace, you isolate, you contain is being TOTALLY ignored by the Johnson/Cummings regime. They are not even testing health workers.
  • This is putting thousands of health workers at risk, and essentially abandoning hundreds of them to catch the virus, to spread the virus, and in many cases to die. The experts in a health emergency are, of course, the health workers. But they are silenced by the Tories and the NHS bosses — threatened with dismissal if caught telling the truth to the public they serve — as if we were living in Stalinist China.
  • Without mass testing, tracing, and isolating, you cannot contain. So everything else — the ban on mass gatherings, the school closures, the lockdown measures — all of it, of course, too late — amount to only half a strategy. In fact, all the signs are that they haven't really let go of their callous notion that people with "underlying" health conditions should be treated as expendable. But that is not just a few old people. About 43% of adults are reckoned to have at least one long-term health condition — disproportionately, of course, poorer people.
  • The Tories and New Labour have created a casualised, insecure, low-wage economy in which the bosses rule and workers are forced to take what they can get. Millions will find themselves with no income. When they try to claim benefits, they will find in place a ruthless regime of cuts, sanctions and suicidal despair — another achievement of Tory austerity. The most that Johnson has said about this so far is that claimants will not need to attend job-centre interviews any more. And what of expenditure? There is vague talk of a "mortgage holiday" and even vaguer talk of renters not being evicted during the crisis. But no talk of all the other payments that should be suspended, including, of course, utilities bills and other fixed household charges. Meanwhile, the profiteers are marking up the prices on goods in short supply — hand sanitiser, paracetemol, toilet roll, etc — and, needless to say, the Tories have done absolutely nothing to control prices.
  • In any case, there is no evidence that the Tories have any intention of doing any of the things they say they will do. The "do everything necessary" rhetoric is bullshit. It’s just a mantra to hide the absence of concrete action and any enforcement mechanism. This can only get much worse, as the entire world economy nosedives, millions more are laid off, and we enter a period of catastrophic social breakdown comparable with the Great Depression. The Tories know this is coming. They are preparing for it.
  • The utterly shambolic response of ruling elites to the coronavirus crisis in both Britain and the US is symptomatic of neoliberalism — of 40 years of profiteering, of grotesque greed, of privatisation of public services, of contempt for ordinary people and their needs. The Tories, presiding over this travesty, will not only try to ride out the storm; they will seek to use the crisis to strengthen the wealth and power of the very people who are responsible for it. This is what happened in 2008. It must not happen again. We need to be absolutely clear. We will not be dictated to by the rich, the Tories, and the police. We will not have our health workers put at risk. We will not have our loved ones killed to protect big business. We will not tolerate their lies, cover-ups and negligence. We will not let them use this crisis to smash democracy so they can continue to siphon wealth to the top. The time has come to put an end to neoliberalism. This crisis is a radical opportunity. Another system is possible. Another system is a necessity.
  • It's quite unusual for a government to publish a plan with things in it we hope we won't have to do. [...] It's far too early to be able to tell in that instance. What we can say for sure is that, right now, we do not recommend the cancelling of mass events, and schools as well should not be closing unless there is both a positive case and the school has had the advice to close from Public Health England.
  • We are telling cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants to close tonight as soon as they reasonably can and not to open tomorrow. To be clear they can continue to provide take out services. Night clubs, theatres, gyms and leisure centres should close on the same time scale. These are places where people come together and indeed the whole purpose is to bring people together. Some people will be tempted to go out tonight. Please don't. You may think you are invincible bit there is no guarantee you will get mild symptoms. As far as possible we want you to stay at home - that's how we can protect our NHS and save lives.

April 2020[edit]

  • You are saving lives by staying at home, so I urge you to stick with it this weekend, even if we do have some fine weather.

May 2020[edit]

October 2020[edit]

  • In this country, as across much of Europe, the virus is spreading even faster than the reasonable worst case scenario of our scientific advisers.
If we fail to take action, then there is a real risk of depriving non-Covid patients of the care that they need from the NHS (1/10)

November 2020[edit]

December 2020[edit]

  • Over the last few days, thanks to our world class genomic capability in the UK, we have identified a new variant of coronavirus which may be associated with the faster spread in the south-east of England. Initial analysis suggests that this variant is growing faster than the existing variants.

January 2021[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]