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Fenland Citizen letters – May 6, 2020

How can we grasp the scale of this loss?

The Government’s chief scientific adviser was asked if the final tally of British deaths could be limited to 20,000 or below when the number of people contracting Covid-19 stood at 71.

Stricter measures had just been introduced to tackle the virus. That would, he told MPs, be “a good outcome”.

Eleven days later, with the official death tally at 1,091, the NHS medical director, repeated the 20,000 benchmark.

And even though a ceiling of 20,000 fatalities was considered a hopeful scenario, it was only ever so in the most the limited sense.

But more than half of the coronavirus deaths announced daily have been reported since Easter, so by now the true picture is likely to be far higher.

Registered deaths capture all deaths in the community or care homes and deaths caused indirectly by the virus: people not seeking or getting treatment because our health service is under pressure, or people suffering in the lockdown.

The very fact of social distancing makes it harder to commemorate those you lose, who are closest to you. Saying goodbye is often impossible.

Numbers at funeral gatherings are strictly limited. You mourn the deaths of loved ones on social media ( Zoom and Skype) rather than at wakes.

But compared with most conflicts and natural disasters, the impact is far more dispersed and hidden.

There will be no war cemeteries like those that show the scale of the loss of life in the great conflicts of the 20th Century though the largest of those, (The World War One Tyne Cot Cemetery in Flanders, with its 11,965 graves) would be too small for 20,000 Covid-19 casualties.

The UK’s official tally of coronavirus-related deaths has passed 20,000. It’s a huge number and hard to visualise.

And if you were to attempt to visualise them, they would not look like a randomly selected cross-section of the population, either. People over 70 are at higher risk. So too are those with underlying health conditions.

Data suggests men may be affected more than women, and that there has been a disproportionately large impact on people from ethnic minority backgrounds. How can we grasp the scale of this loss?

J White


JohnDodd took this lovely picture at Gault Wood in March.
JohnDodd took this lovely picture at Gault Wood in March.

NHS can’t rely on goodwill and charity

J White (Letters, April 29) correctly concludes that: ‘testing, testing, testing’ is necessary for us to win the fight against the Covid-19 virus.

Cuts lie at the root of the dire lack of testing in Britain. Until 2003 the Public Health Laboratory Service provided a network of more than 50 laboratories.

New Labour in government dramatically cut that back and centralised as part of its neo-liberal policies to privatise public health services, resulting in a severe lack of testing facilities.

Charities affiliated to hospitals and other NHS bodies have renewed appeals for donations during the corona crisis.

Efforts made by people, such as World War Two veteran Captain (now Colonel) Tom Moore, to raise sponsorship should be applauded.

Extra money to fund healthcare is welcome. Even before the epidemic, many hospitals were already running at or close to capacity.

However, why, when most people pay tax and national insurance, is it necessary for workers to dip into their pockets further to give the NHS a fighting chance of coping with the virus?

The 1% are hoarding obscene wealth. It’s estimated that big business and wealthy individuals in the UK dodge £112billion in tax annually – just £3billion less than the budget for NHS services in England last year.

A good number of these ‘tax shirkers’ are the same companies and shareholders charging the NHS through the nose.

The interest payments on debts owed by NHS trusts from the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) totalled £2.2billion in the last financial year – nearly five times the amount raised by NHS charities in the same period.

For providing universal healthcare and the dedication of its staff, the NHS generates huge amounts of goodwill among the working class. But we can’t rely on goodwill and charity to keep our hospitals running.

John Smithee


My answers to their questions

I have completed the online feedback to the incinerator company. I thought I would share my responses with other readers.

Q: Please tell us your thoughts on how we can help to help minimise and manage our effect on the landscape and views.

A: By not building the incinerator! There is nothing else in the plans that can avoid a detrimental impact as you are building within a town.

Q: We are committed to playing an active role in supporting and engaging our local communities and being a good neighbour.

A: Be a good neighbour by going away. The whole project shows you to be greedy, irresponsible and lacking in humanity. Traffic density and concomitant fumes, damage to the water table, potential harmful particulates with children from nearby schools in direct line for the effects not to mention all the other workers in businesses and factories and the surrounding residential areas.

Q: As we develop the scheme we will carefully consider our potential effects on a range of environmental topics.

A: What sort of people are you that cannot see the effects you are going to have on the environment of a small town and community?

This is greed and bullying impervious to the feelings of others. Looking at your parent company, what else is to be expected? I recall the treatment of Greece by a certain country in the EU where amongst others pensioners are still living in poverty because of it. You will not improve the environment, you will damage it!

Q: Do you have any further thoughts on the project which we should consider as we develop our proposals?

A: I also wonder that if you receive a massive rejection by the local citizens what difference it will make to the continuation of your project. I can’t see you saying “Oh you don’t want us? We’ll pack up and go away now.”

If you get the go-ahead some of us will agitate for an independent inquiry to see if there has been malfeasance.

David Silver


It was an albino blackbird

Having seen the bird picture in the Fenland Citizen of April 22, I think is in indeed an albino blackbird.

I took a picture in 2007 close to where I live in Elm Low Road, Wisbech and the RSPB confirmed it was an albino blackbird.

David Hodgson

via email


April 29 letters

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