I am informed that the Colyton Grammar School has issued new advice that students should wear masks, in response to the high level of Covid infections. Latest official data also show that the Colyton-Kilmington-Uplyme area has the highest rate in East Devon.
It gives me no pleasure to say ‘I told you so’, but I did, over two months ago. It almost beggars belief that Devon had one of the lowest rates in the country for over a year, and then had one of the highest rates of vaccinations, but we have thrown away these advantages.
The main blame for this rests squarely with the Government, which foolishly removed the requirement to wear masks in indoor spaces (including schools), failed to launch a drive for improved ventilation, and allowed mass gatherings – pressing ahead regardless of the hugely more infectious Delta variant which they had allowed in from India.
However some of the blame also lies with the backbench Tory MPs who irresponsibly pressed the government for this, and the deceitful anti-vaccine campaigners who have been so loud on Facebook.
The damage this has caused is huge: tens of thousands unwell in Devon alone (some of whom will suffer long-term harm), hundreds in hospital, dozens of deaths, our hospitals desperate to discharge patients, pleading with relatives to pick them up, huge delays in ambulance services, people waiting for operations waiting even longer, etc. etc. Not to mention the disruption to schools, isolation of vulnerable people, and cautious people staying away from local businesses.
It was largely avoidable. We had big advantages, both nationally and locally, a few months ago, and now we are the only major Western European country still with a large pandemic.
Time for Plan B? The time was two months ago – but as soon as possible.