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From: The Socialist issue 1083, 22 April 2020: Where’s our PPE? Where’s our testing? Where’s our money?

Search site for keywords: Coronavirus - NHS - Workers - Government - Health

Coronavirus

National plan for testing needed

photo Creative Commons, photo Creative Commons

photo Creative Commons   (Click to enlarge)

Testing everybody in a northern Italian village of 3,000 people saw those with Covid-19 fall 90% within ten days. People testing positive, with or without symptoms, were isolated so they didn't infect others. This shows why testing is vital.

The Tory government's failure to test at the scale needed causes many severe illnesses and deaths.

Health and care workers urgently need weekly testing. Those with mild symptoms, but without Covid, could work. Covid carriers without symptoms isolate, protecting patients and colleagues.

When China's first cases were identified in late December, pandemic contingency plans here should have been opened. They should have rolled into action after Britain's first case was confirmed in late January.

On 19 April, the number of tests performed was still only 5,522 per million people (compared to Germany's 20,786). South Korea has over 600 mobile test centres. The UK has 22, meaning two hour drives for many.

Health secretary Matt Hancock wrings his hands and says: "We have the best scientific labs in the world but we did not have the scale. My German counterpart for instance could call upon 100 testing labs ready and waiting when the crisis struck."

Not until the end of March did the government announce it would recruit laboratories from universities, research institutes and private companies. Why not early February?

The Institute of Biomedical Science, representing 17,000 NHS laboratory workers, says the problem is not insufficient labs but swabs, plastic tubes and chemicals. There is a global shortage. The government's early complacency left them at the back of the queue.

Years of austerity cuts mean NHS labs rely on a few non-domestic suppliers, such as giant corporation Roche. 'Efficient' in normal times, but these are not normal times! Most universities can make the chemicals required.

Julian Peto, a respected epidemiologist, estimates there are enough machines in the UK for ten million daily tests - everybody weekly - obtaining supplies directly from manufacturers rather than clinical test companies.

A national plan is needed, drawn up by NHS, university, biotechnology and other workers through their trade unions, to mobilise all the resources needed for a huge increase in testing. Test, isolate and contact trace to exit lockdown until vaccines are widely available!

Jon Dale, secretary Unite union Nottinghamshire NHS branch (personal capacity)

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

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