Save lives. Save the NHS. Ignore Boris Johnson
The community of Derry and Strabane council area is the fourth largest in Northern Ireland, with almost 151,000 people, yet it has the second-lowest incidence of coronavirus infection in Northern Ireland – and a fraction of the deaths a similar-sized town or community in England would be expected to have suffered.
And it has achieved this by ignoring Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock.
Derry and Strabane locked down two weeks earlier than the rest of the UK – a move driven by the community itself rather than ordered – and has seen only 155 coronavirus cases and 20 deaths, a rate of 129 deaths per million people. By contrast, even based on official government figures which are widely recognised as understating the real death numbers by half or more, the UK’s mortality rate is almost 500 per million population.
Scientists calculate that Johnson’s decision to lock down on 24 March instead of even one week earlier will increase the UK’s ultimate death toll in the current phase of the pandemic by around 60,000 – but the people of Derry and Strabane ignored Johnson and locked down two weeks before.
As the Belfast Telegraph has reported, NI British Medical Association chair Dr Tom Black noted:
We probably shut down two weeks earlier than England and that was a huge factor.
In Derry there was also an incredible community buy-in and it became very clear that nobody was actually paying attention to Boris Johnston
The community also took a radically different view of the protection of its residents most vulnerable to the coronavirus. Where Johnson and Hancock told the NHS to send elderly patients – even those known to be infected – back to care homes to die while infecting their fellow residents, so the government could boast about keeping ICU beds empty, the people of Derry and Strabane knew swift action was needed to protect their own elderly, as Dr Black explained:
There was a feeling in Derry that we have to shut down early to save the old folk in our community and there was a lot of pressure from the community in Derry towards businesses who were still open which resulted in everyone closing down and doing the social distancing, and that worked.
Johnson is expected to start easing the official lock-down as early as next week, ignoring his own scientific experts to do so without any proper plan or provision of masks to the public – or, still, even adequate PPE for the NHS. His ‘herd immunity’ plan has been disguised, but it is still alive and well – unlike tens of thousands of our people. This leaves the people of England facing a simple choice:
Save lives. Save the NHS. Ignore Boris Johnson.
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