Voices /

Inequality means some are suffering more than others from this pandemic

Certain commentators are right to call out the hollowness of government rhetoric that we are somehow all in this crisis together. Some are actually “in it” more than others.

Health is not an accident, it is an outcome. The Covid-19 virus may not discriminate but it doesn’t have to, that is surely the point. The work has already been done by the way in which we choose to construct society. The indications are that a disproportionate number of coronavirus cases are BAME, which should be shocking, but nobody seems to be alarmed.

At least some of the arguments about the lockdown impacting poorer communities more harshly have seen daylight. This government hypocritically claps the same frontline staff that it decimated with its austerity cuts, wage freezes and fiscal responsibility. The communities that suffered when local authority budgets were cut, Sure Start centres closed and charities’ funds slashed are proving to be the same communities likely most vulnerable to contracting the virus.

As expected, the talk is now turning to how to restrict and “punish” communities, many of whom do not have the luxury of large gardens and home studies and and the assurance of furloughed wages. Billions of pounds are suddenly being shaken down from above alongside staged press conferences delivering unclear messages with no hint of self-awareness of how the UK could find itself so ill-prepared for such a crisis.

Some speak of a kinder, more caring community to follow once all this is over. We can all hope, but the likelihood is that, in line with the accepted fourth stage of pandemic, it will be fearful, fractious and recriminating. If this is not the outcome we want, we will have to look to do something differently in terms of building respect for our key workers, valuing them and remunerating them accordingly; using our wealth to address health inequalities with targeted interventions and not being afraid to address the issue of race when it is staring at us.

Deryck Browne Chief executive, African Health Policy Network


Lockdown needed

All this media discussion about an exit strategy is far too soon and will only serve to stoke unrest in the lockdown. All the indications show that the lockdown will need to run for a long time yet. The government is aware that it needs a lockdown exit strategy. For once, let it get on with the job. Citizens in lockdown need to be reminded that there are months to go before restrictions can be lifted.

Your job in this unique situation is not to debate exit, but encourage lockdown coping skills. It’s less of a headline-grabbing job, but it’s what we need.

John Harrison Chorley


Social distancing woes

After the long northern winter, Scotland’s golfers should be enjoying this lovely spring weather on our famous courses. My Scandinavian relatives have been playing with the obvious safety restrictions (not touching flagsticks, etc) we were following here before being closed down. I cannot see why people can go jogging (which includes panting and sweating all over a park full of other people doing the same thing) but I, approaching my four score years, cannot play golf with a geriatric friend. He’s not coming within six feet of me – my swing has flattened out a lot recently!

Rev Dr John Cameron St Andrews

Obviously social distancing is a good idea, as if you don’t see other people your chances of getting or spreading coronavirus are reduced. But what is the point when others are flouting the social distancing laws we are all expected to obey? Two days ago, I watched three police officers get out of one patrol car and walk into our local supermarket shoulder to shoulder to do some shopping. Unless police officers cannot get coronavirus, how is that right? What if just one of those officers unknowingly had it?

P Cresswell Enniskillen

The government already recognises that our police forces are seriously undermanned and is looking to recruit an additional 20,000 officers. That was before the pandemic hit us and increased the burden, exacerbated by those people who persist in “bending” or ignoring the rules. In these circumstances might it be sensible to augment police numbers by seconding some members of British Transport Police and the Military Police specifically to deal with non-compliance? The greater the perceived risk of being stopped, the more likely the selfish minority are to change their behaviour.

Ian Hurdley Ferndown


Important news

Many years ago I worked for a high street bank and over my career I was posted to many branches across many disparate areas. In my largest branches, they had a proper customer seating area, which always contained the daily papers. In one location, we had the Jewish Chronicle. I remember some illustrious names reading our copy and I did on occasion, trying to keep up, read it myself. I always found it an erudite, interesting paper and I have even flicked through it a few times since I retired.

Therefore I was rather saddened to learn that, along with the Jewish News, it will close. This is a paper that was founded in 1841. I just hope that after this crisis is finished a similar newspaper can be salvaged along the same lines for the Jewish community in our country.

Robert Boston Kent