Wales: Mixed Response to Covid-19

Nathan James

The Welsh National Health Service should be applauded for playing a leading role in Britain’s coronavirus treatment programme by extracting Covid-19 convalescent plasma from healthy blood to help patients develop immunity by providing antibodies to combat the virus.

In the same breath, Welsh Labour and Tory ministers in Westminster should be ridiculed for neglecting to act on the cross-government UK pandemic drill, Exercise Cygnus, which took place in October 2016 and accurately concluded that the NHS would be plunged into an enormous crisis by the outbreak of a highly infectious and deadly strain of influenza.

This wide-ranging exercise highlighted the severe shortages of intensive care beds, vital equipment and even mortuary space that would occur in the event of a public health emergency.

The Covid-19 crisis underlines the inability of capitalism and its privatised, free-market neoliberal model promoted by New Labour, the Tory right and the EU, to meet public health and environmental emergencies.

We should strongly criticise the Tory government’s failure to plan much earlier to requisition production, distribution and Research & Development facilities to ensure adequate supplies of protective equipment for front-line staff, ventilators, testing kits and intensive care beds.

Furthermore, many Welsh workers are being forced to risk their own and other people’s lives by employers who continue to put profits before public health and safety.

Welsh Communists have urged solidarity with workers refusing to work in breach of coronavirus regulations, insisting that trade unionism in the workplace was the best protection for workers exercising their lawful right to stop the job in unsafe conditions.

Nathan James

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