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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Sleep-walking into a deadly winter?

by New Worker correspondent

THE JOHNSON GOVERNMENT risks “sleep-walking into another deadly winter”, Labour MP Richard Burgon warned this week following figures that show Britain has seen the highest daily Covid death-toll since March. On Tuesday, the government reported 223 more coronavirus deaths, which is the highest daily-reported figure in seven months. The number of new COVID‑19 cases recorded in the latest 24-hour period stood at 43,738 and the total death-toll now stands at 138,629.

Last month Boris Johnson made it clear that if the government’s ‘Plan A’ on encouraging Covid booster and free flu jabs fails to stop “unsustainable pressure” on the NHS, London will introduce a ‘Plan B’ return to emergency health measures. Now that seems increasingly likely.

The Government is now talking about a “challenging” winter in the battle against Covid as cases continue to rise. Epidemiologist and government adviser Prof Andrew Hayward says the situation is “concerning” and there was “huge potential for the NHS to come under a lot of pressure”.

Matthew Taylor, the chief executive of the National Health Service Confederation, is urging the government to swiftly roll out Plan B now.

“We are right on the edge – and it is the middle of October. It would require an incredible amount of luck for us not to find ourselves in the midst of a profound crisis over the next three months,” Taylor warned. He called on ministers to not only announce that they are “moving” to Plan B, “but it should be Plan B plus”.

“We should do what’s in Plan B in terms of masks…working from home, but also we should try to achieve the kind of national mobilisation that we achieved in the first and second waves, where the public went out of their way to support and help the health service.

“We need that same sense of pulling together over the next few months, trying to avoid risky behaviour if it’s not necessary. This is not a question of if we don’t do it something might happen. If we don’t do it, it would take a miracle for us not to find ourselves in the midst of a really profound crisis in our health and social care system over the next three months,” he said.

In Parliament, Labour approved the renewal of the Coronavirus Act and allowed it to pass without a formal division this week whilst urging the government to take action on booster jabs, ventilation and more, amidst a rise in Covid cases.

“We do not oppose the renewal of the Act,” Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said. “The main reason we will not oppose this Act is that it provides statutory sick pay on day one, not day four, as used to be the case before this Act received royal assent.”

Ashworth welcomed the lifting of some of the restrictions from the Coronavirus Act, but also criticised the Government for removing powers from the Act that had enabled local authorities to meet remotely.

Last week the Prime Minister’s former adviser, Dominic Cummings, branded both Boris Johnson and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer as “jokes” in the wake of the highly critical parliamentary report into the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.Cummings said the country has “a joke prime minister and a joke leading the Labour Party”, adding that what Britain needs is a “new political system”.

The bitter former aide has been waging a political vendetta against his former master following his dismissal last November.

But although Cummings still attracts the attention of the bourgeois media, he counts for little in the corridors of power these days.