Ipswich Borough Council Leader: Councillor David Ellesmere
Ipswich Borough Council Leader: Councillor David Ellesmere

Last week saw Britain pass the truly horrendous milestone of over 100,000 Covid deaths.

Numbers on this scale are hard to comprehend. It is the equivalent of at least one death in every single household in Ipswich. Imagining the suffering and grief that would cause in our county town gives some appreciation of the scale of this disease across the country.

Covid has already reached the point where it ranks among the deadliest pandemics in human history.

But it has not affected every country equally. Some have coped much better than others, putting in place strict quarantine measures for people arriving in the country, effective test, trace, and isolate programmes to nip outbreaks in the bud, and imposing lockdowns quickly.

In the Far East especially, where governments are used to dealing with pandemics, their response has been an order of magnitude better than Britain’s.

Take Vietnam for instance. It has a population greater than the UK; its people live closer together and it is much poorer. It is not an island and borders China.

Yet its death toll from Covid so far is 35 people. Not 35,000. Just 35.

So, I’m afraid my jaw hit the floor when Boris Johnson said his Government has done “everything we could” to minimise loss of life.

He has repeatedly defied scientific advice, imposing lockdowns too late and releasing them too early. He opened schools in January only to close them a day later. Test and Trace still isn’t working properly.

Unbelievably, a full year after Covid first appeared, the Government is still dithering about imposing a proper quarantine system for people arriving in the country.

Boris Johnson’s biggest failing is that he seems incapable of learning from past errors. He keeps on making the same mistakes.

This really matters because, even with a successful vaccine rollout in the UK, we are not fully out of the woods while the virus is still raging in the rest of the world. A new variant, immune to current vaccines, could still emerge and be imported back into Britain.

If Boris Johnson can’t admit – and learn from – the errors he has made so far, can we have any confidence he would deal with this new threat any better?

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