A grieving woman believes her father would still be alive today if not for Boris Johnson’s lockdown dithering.
Jo Goodman thinks her dad Stuart caught coronavirus while waiting for a cancer appointment in Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on March 18 last year.
The 72-year-old died from coronavirus on April 2 – just over a week after the PM announced a lockdown in England.
A parliamentary report has now slammed the Government for waiting until March 23 to order a shutdown.
Experts claim Mr Johnson could have saved at least 20,000 lives in the first wave by announcing a lockdown one week earlier.
Jo, 33, told The Mirror, her dad was diagnosed with aggressive Non-Hodgkin lymphoma on the same day she believes he contracted Covid.
And due to her dad’s general underlying health conditions she was “terrified” throughout the whole of March he would get the virus and “wanted to wrap him up in a giant ball of cotton wool”.
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“The very worst moment of the whole thing was when my mum called to say he’d got Covid because I knew my dad was never going to contribute to herd immunity, the only thing that was going to happen if he got Covid was he was going to die in a very traumatic and preventable way.
“The hardest thing to take is he didn’t have to die then or in that way. I think there was a real failure to protect him,” continued the charity project manager, who lives in London.
She said there had been 23 cases in Norfolk at the time of her dad’s appointment and she was worried.
“I called him on the morning of that hospital appointment and said ‘don’t go’ because it didn’t feel like it was safe to me.
“My parents were quite shocked when they were at the hospital, there was a crowded waiting room and they had to wait several hours in it and it didn’t feel safe to them, but they didn’t know the prevalence of Covid.”
Jo said her dad was someone who would “always do what he was told and didn’t want to make a fuss and cause trouble” but was failed by the government’s lack of action.
She believes if the lockdown was brought in earlier there’s a much better chance he wouldn’t have been exposed to the virus.
“The report is rightly damning, and it is a relief to see what we have known all along reflected in its findings,” she continued.
“It recognises the Government’s failures, failures which will shape my life forever.
“But it hasn’t told us why those failures happened.”
Jo added that the upcoming Covid inquiry will fail to explore the reasons behind the failures unless bereaved families are included in the process.
“Me and my family have spent countless hours wondering why and how my dad was left so vulnerable, why the government didn’t do everything it could to protect him.
“We and every other family that has lost somebody to Covid understands what went wrong in ways Jeremy Hunt never can.
“That is why we want to continue to work with him and the other chairs of the committee. Our experiences are hellish. But if we learn from them together, we might be able to keep others safe in the future.”
Charlie Williams’ dad Rex died on April 20, 2020, after contracting Covid while at a care home in Coventry.
He suspects it was the result of untested discharges from hospitals being placed at the facility – something he said the care home has denied.
Charlie was informed his 85-year-old dad was showing symptoms of the virus just four days before his death, and the last he saw of him was on a video call.
“We were told his condition had deteriorated quite suddenly,” Charlie told the Mirror.
“They said he had suspected Covid-19, chest infection, high temperature etc. We said ‘can we get him tested’ but they didn’t have test facilities or PPE whatsoever either.
“My father didn’t stand a chance. I was frantic, I was phoning them every day to try get him tested.”
He said a doctor had given Mr Williams’ family the choice of whether to allow him to remain in the care home or go to hospital, and they chose the former.
“We should never have been put in that position, it should have been made by a qualified person.
“The hospitals were in chaos and we didn’t want our father being left on a stretcher in a corridor and potentially passing away. We thought him staying at the care home among familiar faces was the best option.
“Before I knew it my father passed away and I still persisted in my father being tested.
“My battle went on to the coroners because they immediately put on death certificate ‘died of suspected Covid-19’ and I wanted to know what my father died of 100 percent.
“I argued with coroner to get them to test my father and eventually they did. The test came back positive and they had to change his death certificate.”
Lobby Akinnola said his dad Femi, a social care worker for Mencap, likely contracted Covid as a result of not having access to PPE.
“He went to work wearing his gloves and scarf as makeshift PPE, that’s what he did to try and keep himself safe.” the 30-year-old campaigner told the Mirror.
“He didn’t have anything, it wasn’t available at the time.”
Mr Akinnola, 60, from Leamington Spa, began feeling unwell on April 10 and called 111 and later his GP to be told he should be fine.
“He was generally healthy with no underlying health conditions, but he didn’t get better and passed away on April 26,” Lobby explained.
His dad had been advised to remain at home where he died.
He said Mr Akinnola had continued his job in the community, coming into contact with people in his care three or four times a week prior to getting sick.
“I wouldn’t say he was unconcerned for himself but his priority was making sure the people around him were safe,” said Lobby.
“He was constantly telling us to be careful because he thought the government was underestimating how serious it was.”
Referring to the report, Lobby said he finds it “doubly difficult” that those in power neglected to stock up on PPE when they were warned to.
“Maybe my dad still wouldn’t have got access to any PPE because he wasn’t working in a hospital, but if they had at least been stocked he would have had a chance.”
He added: “The government kept saying ‘Covid was unprecedented, we didn’t know what to expect’. But pandemics aren’t unprecedented. You were expecting transmission so you knew we needed PPE but they just didn’t stock up on it.”
Lindsay Jackson, whose mother Sylvia died with Covid in a care home, said MP Jeremy Hunt‘s comparison of the Government’s handling of the pandemic to a football match was “despicable”.
Mr Hunt, who co-authored the Covid report, likened it to a “football game” with “two very different halves”.
Ms Jackson, from Derbyshire, said: “This is not a game. My mother didn’t lose her life in a game. I think she lost her life because of mistakes that were made by the government and I want to know about that.
“I want to hear about it in a full judicial inquiry and I don’t want political decisions being taken now that are not based on the best advice.”
She said today’s report confirmed fears she had about being allowed to visit her mother in a care home in March 2020.
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“I knew in my own mind the lockdown was too slow, I knew the social care sector wasn’t being looked after, I knew people shouldn’t have been released from hospital without tests, and this just confirms that,” she added.
Sylvia died from coronavirus in April last year and Lindsay is now calling for the Government to immediately start a public inquiry rather than waiting until spring to see if anyone is culpable.
She said: “And if they are then I want to see them brought to justice and that’s not where this report leads us. This is a start but it’s not sufficient.”