Cunninghame North Labour Candidate, Katy Clark, calls for a Public Inquiry into COVID-19 to start immediately to save lives.

The former MP for North Ayrshire and Arran said  “The official UK wide figures are now well over 110,000 COVID-19 deaths and rising and these figures are only for people who have died within 28 days of a positive test.

Britain’s response to this pandemic has been poor. We have one of the worst death rates in the world. Both Westminster and Holyrood need to learn from this experience as unfortunately, this pandemic is far from over.

We need a public inquiry in Scotland to start now to learn lessons from the mistakes made so far, so that immediate action is taken to prevent further avoidable deaths.

This level of loss of life in the UK could have been avoided. Had Governments followed Zero-COVID strategies, such as those adopted in New Zealand, Vietnam and many countries in East Asia and the Pacific, the death rate would have been far lower. As an island we are more than able to implement an elimination strategy.

Independent Sage was telling Governments last summer that a Zero-COVID strategy was needed for the UK and thousands of deaths could have been prevented if that had been adopted. They weren’t listened to.

The roll out of the vaccination programme gives us hope but it won’t be a complete solution given the emergence of new strains and the likelihood of further breakouts after we get the virus under control.

We need to;

• Implement a Zero-COVID strategy now including in non essential construction and manufacturing
• Extend lockdown until there are low COVID-19 levels
• Provide financial support to enable people to stay at home
• Ensure Statutory Sick Pay is available to all at real Living Wage levels to enable people to self isolate
• Implement the World Health Organisation recommendations on testing and quarantine for all arrivals to the UK including hotel accommodation
• Fix test and trace  
• Provide vaccinations for school staff and ensure there are low levels of COVID-19 before schools are reopened; Provide laptops and IT support to pupils and staff and engage with the education unions on the reopening of schools and how to keep schools safe from the virus once reopened
• Call for a public inquiry to begin now so that early recommendations can be implemented to save lives 

We have to begin to learn the lessons of the mistakes made during this pandemic to limit, as much as possible, further deaths and to emerge from this quicker. An inquiry would help do that.

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