The press conference held by the government on Monday to unveil its "action plan" against the coronavirus, COVID-19, was supposed to be a very serious affair. After its slow response to the epidemic, the government was determined to show that it really did have things under control!
So, instead of leaving it to ministers and their usual blunders and bombastic bragging, top medical professionals were called in to outline the government's "action plan".
But all this apparent seriousness was soon blown to pieces when Johnson was asked by a journalist if he was still shaking hands with No.10 visitors? King Boris couldn't stop himself from showing what a jolly good fellow he was: of course, he was still shaking hands with everyone - and hadn't he just been shaking hands with patients and staff at a hospital which was caring for COVID-19 patients?
Yes, Boris The Fool hadn't even bothered to take seriously the recommendations which had just been spelt out by his chief medical experts, on behalf of his own government!
Crunch time for the NHS
Beyond the apparent care taken to formulate this "action plan", however, no amount of verbal beautifying nor technical jargon, could conceal the fact that the NHS, in its current dire state, is very far from being able to deal with a COVID-19 epidemic.
How will a crumbling, under-funded, under-manned, under-resourced, over-worked NHS, manage to face the added burden resulting from the spread of this virus? Politicians' usual hypocritical incantations about "our” “magnificent NHS" and the "marvellous job it's doing", are no cover for reality: the shortage of beds, doctors, nurses and ancillary staff. At just 4,000, there are fewer intensive care beds in Britain than any comparable OECD country. In a best case scenario, with only 1% of the population infected with coronavirus - say, 700,000 - around 35,000 would need intensive care: nine times as many beds as we have now!
In this respect, the government's expert-sponsored plan has no answers whatsoever. Yet Johnson boasted yesterday that “we are well prepared, and the government and the NHS will stop at nothing to fight this virus”.
His plan does not say where acute cases will be treated. Less serious cases will, apparently, have to stay indoors and be dealt with by community nurses. But after years of cuts, there are no community nurses - so where are they meant to come from?
And just to make matters worse, despite the unpreparedness of the NHS and its dire need for EU help, Johnson’s Brexit negotiators have just made it clear that Britain will no longer be part of the EU’s pandemic Early Warning and Response System, contrary to advice from senior health officials!
Yet, as the spread of the coronavirus itself shows, we live in a “global” world where only our collective internationalist response, across borders, has any hope of tackling the critical problems that affect us today, like COVID-9. But never mind that, with the spirit of the Blitz and a large dose of nationalistic hype, Johnson’s circus will get “us” through!
We won't "Starve Or Die"!
On top of these obvious and multiple failings, Johnson’s COVID-19 “action plan” has got no answers at all for a large section of workers who might get sick and are told to “self-isolate”.
Among us, most of those working as temps, subcontractors or for the gig economy, do not even get the miserly “statutory sick pay” of £94.25/week. But of course nobody can live on that! As to the over 4m “self-employed”, they get nothing at all!
But has Johnson ordered the capitalist class to take out of their fat profits what is needed for every worker who has to go off sick to be kept on full pay, regardless? Of course not! In fact he suggested that workers who haven’t a bean in their pockets should apply for Universal Credit! While beggaring workers, this also beggars belief! And when told it involved a 5-week wait he said no, not possible, since you are “entitled” to it from day one! What a buffoon!
This exposes the system for what it really is: and how incapable it is of catering for the needs of the majority, because it is entirely designed, from top to bottom, to serve the interests of the small parasitic capitalist minority which owns everything.
Look at them: are they worrying about the thousands of victims that this virus might claim among the workforce? No, they are worrying about their production being disrupted, their profits being cut and their shares losing value! Meanwhile, their lackeys - Johnson and his like - are throwing their weight around, trying to seem like they are doing something for their masters. But they're threatening to cause more damage for the rest of us, due to their dangerously irresponsible incompetence. We simply cannot afford this - not the capitalist parasites, nor their foolish lackeys!