We shouldn’t be here. Back in June, England had the opportunity to suppress the virus. With a functional test and trace system, support to help people self-isolate, a robust set of regulations to keep work and leisure spaces safe and a clear public communications campaign, we could have suppressed coronavirus into the winter.
But the opportunity was squandered. Worse, as restrictions were lifted on 4 July – what became known colloquially as “Freedom Saturday” – we were encouraged to relax, to travel back to work, to go to the pub, to mix and mingle. Meanwhile, the country’s dysfunctional, centralised and privately-run test and trace system lurched from one calamity to the next. World class? At failing to contact people and succeeding in losing data, perhaps.
The virus never went away. In some deprived communities, such as Bolton and Rochdale, infections remained