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Coronavirus news in brief
Amazon reports it is trying to remove listings for face masks and hand sanitiser marked up by up to 2,000%. Snake-oil merchants and spivs are trying to capitalise on the global panic. If Amazon struggles to control the profiteers, perhaps nationalisation is in order - of Amazon, and the medical and hygiene supply firms.
NHS staff don't want to return
The government's plan to call up retired NHS professionals during the coronavirus crisis has not had a good response. Of 120 retirees who spoke to Guardian, 71 said they wouldn't go back. Working conditions in the NHS are horrific - and older people are in the high-risk category for severe symptoms anyway.
"After the way I was treated I would rather shove a rusty six-inch nail up my backside than return to my old job," said one former nurse. Another has "nightmares 12 years on about the extraordinary working conditions."
A third "left nursing in disgust at the treatment of nursing and ancillary staff by a toxic and bullying management culture." And GPs reported "being repeatedly shafted by successive administrations" and "burnout. I would not go back under any circumstances."
There's no quick fix - but a promise of immediate full funding to mitigate those conditions might sweeten the pill for some. Permanent full funding and reversal of privatisation - better still.
Police plan reduced cover
Emergency policing plans include that "we could stop homicide investigations, stop everything that is not time-critical. Everything goes on the protection of life and property," one officer told the Guardian.
But who decides what local policing priorities are? Democratic community control of police policy and hiring would help prevent abuses if resources become too scarce.
Homeless can't quarantine
How are rough sleepers to self-isolate? The government is already under fire for suppressing the true scale of the homelessness crisis. Whitehall reported 4,677 rough sleepers last year, but Freedom of Information requests to local councils counted almost 25,000.
Councils should requisition empty homes - 216,000 in England alone - to help the homeless prevent the spread. Then refuse to give them back to the landlords and developers to help resolve the housing crisis!
In the midst of a potential epidemic, prescription charges in the "free at the point of use" NHS are due to rise again. You can now expect to pay £9.15 a pop.
With wages already hit by sickness and closures, how are workers to maintain their health and help control the spread? Scrap prescription charges! And nationalise big pharma to cover the costs.
Airlines are running "ghost" flights without passengers while the outbreak hits demand. Why? The capitalist European Union's competition laws dictate that airlines which don't use at least 80% of their flight slots can lose them to rival firms.
This rule - and all the EU's pro-market, anti-worker regulations - have to go. Struggling airlines should be nationalised as part of a democratic, socialist plan for cheap and environmentally sustainable transport.
Fight for transparency
The government hastily withdrew a proposal to reduce infection count updates from daily to weekly. And parliament announced there were no plans to close as of 9 March. But this may change as the crisis develops. So would such a closure be designed to prevent infection, perhaps convening electronically - or to totally suspend even the feeble and distorted oversight the Commons exercises over the government?
Nationalise big pharma
A pharmacy worker in Dumbarton rushed out to sign our petition saying she'd been inundated with customers asking to use a hand sanitiser. But as it's a private Lloyd's pharmacy, the bosses would not provide one for public use. She agreed with our demand for nationalisation of the pharmaceutical industry.
Matt Dobson, Socialist Party Scotland
In The Socialist 11 March 2020:
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