On Wednesday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that millions more people in Britain are to face tighter lockdown restrictions, a move made in response to increasing cases and the new, highly transmissible variant of coronavirus spreading across most of England.
78% of England is now in ‘Tier 4’: the tier facing the most restrictions to day-to-day living, restrictions which are largely equivalent to that of a national lockdown.
The weekly COVID-19 case rates in England saw a 32% increase in just one week, with 403 people out of 100,000 having the virus, according to the Department of Health and Social Care.
Just under 15,000 patients have been admitted to hospitals from COVID-19 within the same time-frame, an 18% increase from the week prior.
Labour have accepted the new restrictions, with Jonathon Ashworth, Shadow Health Secretary, calling the situation “horrific”. This situation is the direct result of the disastrous policy pursued by the Tory government which has repeatedly put the interests of big business above the health of the public.
It is also made worse by a welfare state crippled by ten years of austerity. It has led to a nation on the brink of collapse, which has normalised tragedy and infested itself with confusion and despair.
It must also be said that the lack of effective opposition to this from the Labour Party has been very concerning, and has undoubtedly contributed to the situation we all currently find ourselves in.
And of course, it did not need to be this way – one can look to the COVID responses of nations such as Vietnam, New Zealand and Australia to see the alternative to the disastrous strategies of the UK and the USA.
In a slither of good news, Hancock also added that 530,000 doses of the new Oxford University and AstraZeneca vaccine which will be available from Monday onwards.
The long-term task for all socialists now is to build power through organising workers in order to ensure that catastrophes such as this cannot occur again.
The short term task is to survive the pandemic, to stay safe and to look after those around us as best as we can.