The Conservative government has desperately tried to put forward a competent public face during this crisis. But the more we learn about the impact COVID-19 is having on Britain, the more it becomes clear that Boris Johnson and his government were - and still are - totally unprepared for the pandemic.
At every stage, the Tories are scandalously attempting to cover their tracks and sweep their murderous mistakes under the carpet by distorting the facts and massaging the numbers. The truth is slowly emerging, however. And we will not forget their crimes.
Most startling has been government attempts to artificially reduce the official number of COVID-19 deaths.
According to the government, for example, the coronavirus death toll by 24 April was around 23,000. But using data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), analysts have suggested a death toll of over 40,000 at that time. This includes the number of excess deaths compared to an average of previous years.
This discrepancy is due to the government only counting deaths with a positive test result from the NHS. At the time, these were only being given to hospitalised inpatients. Therefore the official figure left out those who died in care homes and anyone else who died without being tested first.
But the virus is now thought to be surging through care homes, due to the appalling conditions that exist in these as a result of years of austerity and privatisation. The total number of deaths could therefore easily be over double those recorded in hospitals.
Alongside the hubris of the Tory government in the early weeks of the outbreak, the contagion in care homes is a major factor in why Britain is well on the way to recording the highest death rate in Europe, and second only in the world to the USA.
In recent days, the government seems to have largely given up on accurately estimating the number of COVID-19 related deaths. Why? Because these morbid numbers are unlikely to support Boris Johnson’s pressing desire to lift the lockdown and get businesses running again.
Elsewhere, later last month on 30 April, Health Secretary Matt Hancock boasted that the government had surpassed their target of 100,000 COVID-19 tests per day. This was soon revealed to be a media sham. 40,000 of these tests were simply home test kits posted out on that day.
Lo-and-behold, once Hancock had revealed his headline figure, the number of tests reported quickly dropped back down to 76,000. According to the government, it was all about the ‘potential’ target not the actual one.
Michael Gove on #Marr praising Health Secretary for hitting Governments target on testing. Marr failed to point out Gov’ts target of testing 100,000 people a day by end of April was actually missed & has been missed every day since! RT if you think he should have pointed that out https://t.co/VAAlhZquco— Peter Stefanovic (@PeterStefanovi2) May 17, 2020
The Tories have been incredibly slow with testing compared with other European countries, such as Germany, whose testing surpassed 100,000 per day back in March. At the time, the UK was only testing 5,000 per day.
Of course Johnson’s grand promise of 200,000 tests a day had already been quietly filed away in the dustbin as “an ambition”. Yet again, we see an out-of-touch Etonian government attempting to bluster its way through a deadly crisis - a crisis made all the more deadly by their reckless arrogance.
The government also recently claimed that it had sent out a billion items of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to NHS workers. But it has been revealed that this number has been boosted by counting cleaning supplies and paper towels, and in many cases individual gloves (rather than pairs).
This PPE also includes 145 million plastic aprons - items that fall far short of the WHO recommendation for protection standards. There was also no stockpile of gowns, visors, swabs, or body bags, despite expert warnings in June last year.
The Tories were warned again in February, when the ECDC advised them to begin buying gowns and respirators as soon as possible. But Johnson was entirely absent from government at the time, and completely ignored this advice, leaving NHS workers at risk.
In late April, the UK received a shipment of 40,000 gowns from Turkey, emphatically pushed by the government as the solution to the shortage. Upon arrival, however, the gowns were quickly deemed to be “medically useless” - a shock to the government, who had not checked before recklessly throwing away NHS funds.
From the start of this pandemic, this Tory government was unprepared and slow to react. They are now attempting to cover up for their ineptitude by lying to the public.
But as the death toll continues to rise each day, it is becoming crystal clear to everyone that Johnson’s government has blood on its hands. This fact will not evade workers in the NHS and across Britain. A reckoning is coming.