OPINION - The Standard View: An independent, public inquiry into Covid-19 is as urgent as ever

 (Christian Adams)
(Christian Adams)

The wave of Covid that spread through care homes in the early stages of the pandemic was devastating. Anyone who lost a loved one during that time has a right to know whether their death could have been avoided.

In the wake of leaked text messages, Matt Hancock is facing renewed claims that he failed to follow scientific advice on testing people entering care homes in early 2020. In one message, the then Health Secretary was reportedly told by chief medical officer Sir Chris Whitty to test “all going into care homes” but ultimately only mandatory testing for those coming from hospital was introduced.

Mr Hancock denies he ignored advice and argues that an inquiry is the appropriate place for an objective assessment — though such principles did not prevent him from publishing his lucrative pandemic diaries.

We already know that huge mistakes were made in the handling of Covid-19, particularly in those first few months. That is why the public inquiry is so vital — not only so that decisions can be considered in full and ministers, both former and current, are held to account but also to enable us to learn lessons. We need to be better prepared for when the next pandemic arrives on our shores.

The people who lost parents, children and best friends during one of the darkest periods in our recent history have a right to hear the truth.

West End revival

Reports of the West End’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. London’s entertainment and hospitality capital has staged a stunning revival from the depths of the pandemic, with sales now consistently exceeding pre-Covid levels.

A year since the last restrictions were lifted, the data shows that sales in January were above their pre-pandemic levels and that trend continued into February. Of course, the return of tax-free shopping for foreign tourists would go even further to boost figures.

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