Global COVID-19 infections are at an all-time high, centring on the Americas, with Brazil having the highest prevalence of infections in the world, and it is re-surging in several countries including China and Australia. The top US disease researcher, Dr Anthony Fauchi, stated that he expects new cases in the US to reach 100,000 a day.
In the UK, although infections are coming down, the latest figures from C-19/Kings Fund show almost 4,000 new cases a day. On Channel 4 News, on 19 June, David King, the head of the unofficial SAGE (Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies), said that we are still in a “perilous” situation. King added that the British government has got it wrong from day one, and has continued to get it wrong, as displayed with the lack of progress on “track and trace”. The Guardian on 20 June reported how the technology arm of the NHS, NHSX, set up when Matt Hancock became Health Secretary, had been undermining other independent projects seeking to create a viable “track and trace’ app.
Bonapartism of Tories
There appears an increasing “Bonapartist” current to the UK government’s refusal to be accountable. For instance, Matt Hancock has refused for the past three weeks to be interviewed by the country’s major news channel, Channel 4 News. And reporters were barred from being present and asking questions when the Prime Minister announced on 30 June to “build, build, build” out of the coronavirus crisis.
In the Financial Times on 20 June, one journalist tried to understand why the British government had failed to prevent so many deaths. For instance, care home residents in Britain had been 13 times more likely to die of coronavirus than their equivalents in Germany. And it is now established that 1 in 5 care home residents have died because of coronavirus.
He concluded that it was a lack of “political will”. A capitalist government whose essential role is maximising profits will only protect workers as the last resort.
COVID-19 – 20% contracted in hospital
During Newsnight on BBC on 22 June Nigel Edwards of the Nuffield Trust explained that the UK was particularly prone to a health disaster due to the inadequate funding for hospitals. They are too small, as each new private funded NHS hospital reduced and centralised bed provision resulting in so few beds that it had been impossible to isolate infected patients. As a result, 20% of all COVID-19 cases were contracted in hospitals.
There have been severe COVID-19 outbreaks in meat processing factories, which in one instance resulted in three deaths. Over the last few days, 250 workers in the UK have been infected. In Germany over 1,500 workers at a plant contracted Covid-19, and in the US 45 slaughterhouse workers have died. On 22 June on Anglesey an outbreak at a meat processing plant occured.
The underlying reason for these outbreaks is poorly paid work, with little social distancing, insufficient sick pay, crowded staff facilities such as changing rooms and a lack of personal protective equipment.
BAME people die in higher numbers
Black African heritage deaths are 3.7 times higher than might be expected by geography and age, 2.9 times higher for Pakistanis and 1.8 for black Caribbean people. No one can challenge that the death rate due to COVID-19 of BAME people is disproportionally higher.
The reasons include poverty, overcrowding of households, poor conditions at work, including racism and the type of job. For example, the most dangerous situation is security work. Because of racism and the difficulty of getting a job, many poor BAME people get work in this type of job. The situation brings many health-related problems.
The government consistently lies
The lying of the government was proved in The Guardian on 20 June. After analysing deaths, they found that on the day 1,210 died Dominic Raab reported only 439 deaths. This is the same man who is against “giving the knee” to Black Lives Matter. It is widely acknowledged that Britain did not protect care residents with 1 in 16 dying.
Around the country there is little political leadership to defend workers. For instance in Liverpool the mayor, Joe Anderson, without any consultation, announced all schools would return in September. The coronavirus debacle in Britain is against the backdrop of a Tory government that thinks it does not need to face the electorate in a General Election for another four years.
The government, aided by a tame Labour Party, is allowing business to dictate the strategy without due concern for workers’ health. It is because of the need to get workers making profits for their bosses. This is the real drive behind the Tory government. Whereas other European countries have got pupils back in school, in Britain, which has the highest-class size in Europe, the push to get pupils back to school is steeped in danger for staff, parents and pupils, with the constant threat of a fresh outbreak of the virus.
Danger of second wave
On 20 June, the Financial Times noted that to increase UK company profits will mean social distancing breaking down and an inevitable “second wave”. in Germany it has just been reported the transition, or “R” rate has tripled to 2.88 after the economy was loosened and the lockdown eased. Further increases are being seen in Spain after a drive to return workers to their jobs and the attendant reduction in social distancing.
There has also been a resurgence in the UK in the city of Leicester, which has led to Britain’s first citywide lockdown. Local officials Leicester have criticised the government for not giving them information about who was infected. The officials say that the first they heard of an outbreak was from the media. Without proper information, rumour mongering has been rife, often unfairly pointing the finger at ethnic minorities. The fact of the matter is that Leicester has the largest number of garment workers in the UK. Often they work in crowded “sweatshops”, tantamount to modern slavery, will little social distancing. As so often there has been no real guidance from central government. In Leicester, the lockdown is not being policed – so in effect not being enforced. According to the BBC website on 1 July outbreaks are arising in several other towns such as Bradford, Barnsley and Rochdale.
Throughout the world, it is the poor who are suffering the most. Engels noted in his The Condition of The Working Class in England that epidemics killed three times the children in the towns of Manchester and Liverpool as in the country districts.
No new money
The ‘new’ announcement of government funding to “overcome” the crisis in the economy is just a rehash of old money. It falls far short of what is needed to overcome the problems that COVID-19 and the government handling of the pandemic created. While Johnson proclaims world-leading responses, the UK is one of the sick countries of Europe. Starmer makes attacks in parliament but does not call for mass action against the injustices mentioned in this article. He is a ‘loyal’ opposition.
That is why workers and the oppressed have to build their actions against racism, poverty and capitalist domination of all government “solutions’. The struggles of Black Lives Matter, the mobilisations in support of Trans rights, the organised actions against job losses in the public and private sectors, the demands for safety measures on COVID-19 are the best defence against COVID-29, racism and job losses and all the attacks the government and the capitalist system are making and preparing. Because they also show BLM and working class youth are fighting.
When health workers in the UK, US and other countries took the knee in solidarity of BLM and George Floyd, it showed a way forward.
We say build on these actions and demand the trade unions mobilise to support all actions.
Build solidarity in all cities for a national struggle of the workers and oppressed against Johnson and capitalism.
. Engels, The Conditions of The Working Class (1845) Penguin p.137