As the number of deaths from Covid19 continue to increase in both Scotland and across the whole of the UK, Coila Drake Chair of Orkney Labour Party has criticised the UK Government’s handling of the pandemic and has called for a full lockdown with travel only for essential workers.
Coilla Drake said:
“As of Sunday there have been 10612 deaths due to Coronovirus in the UK, this is more than three times the number in China (3339) which has a population of 1.4 billion. Countries which locked down at an earlier stage like China, Greece and New Zealand have fared far better than the UK. The UK Government has not done what it needs to protect us and as a result, thousands have died needlessly and thousands more will die.
“The UK Government made its priority the economy and therefore profits and not saving lives. As a result of mounting medical evidence and public concern, a lockdown was eventually called and this must be supported. However, it is not complete with many companies insisting that their staff still attend for work, putting them, their families and others at risk, even though they are not carrying out essential jobs.
“The lockdown is causing suffering to the most vulnerable and those on low incomes but delaying a full lock down will cause them more suffering. It means it will take longer for the lockdown to have an effect and more lives will be lost.
“The Scottish Government has been one step ahead of Westminster in instructing construction sites to close but further decisive action is needed.
“While it was never possible to prevent all deaths from this virus, it is possible to slow and then prevent the spread of the virus, but the following needs to be done by the Westminster and Holyrood governments as a matter of urgency:
“There needs to be a full lockdown now with only essential workers allowed to travel to work.
“Employers to be instructed to close workplaces unless they are essential, and to ensure social distancing is maintained in essential work places.
“The NHS needs to be provided with everything it needs, ventilators, protective equipment, tests for staff etc.
“Comprehensive tests to map the spread of the virus.
“Payments to everyone who cannot make a living because of the virus, at a level which means they are not in poverty. A basic income guarantee at a decent level would be a good way to ensure that people receive enough to live on with no minimum time limit. This would help ensure that people stay home if they are unwell and support small businesses to close for short periods if needed.
“The Council has mobilised to support those most at risk and the most vulnerable while delivering essential services for us all. We are blessed with having reserves and the Council should not hesitate to use them where they are needed. One thing they must do is create a Hardship Fund to support those people who are not receiving help from the Westminster and Holyrood governments.
“The number of people in Orkney and the UK who have volunteered to help is inspiring and they should be congratulated.
“The dedication of NHS and other emergency workers in Orkney and the UK is amazing, we need to do everything to support them. We must also support and value our key workers who are keeping our communities functioning, at often increased risk to themselves. The most important way to do this is to stay home unless it is essential to leave the house.”
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