Britons throw support behind virus inquiry


A nurse attends to a patient on a COVID-19 ward at Milton Keynes University Hospital, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Milton Keynes, Britain, Jan 20, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

British people are strongly in favor of a full public inquiry scrutinizing the government's handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to an opinion poll commissioned by The Guardian newspaper.

Almost half of those questioned said they supported the idea, and just one-fifth were opposed to a statutory public inquiry, with many of those citing expense rather than lack of utility as the reason.

The strong support prompted a government spokesperson to say: "There will be an appropriate time in the future to look back, analyze, and reflect on all aspects of this global pandemic."

But Reuters reported a spokesperson for the prime minister also said: "Now is not the right time to devote huge amounts of official time to an inquiry."

The Daily Mail said calls for an analysis of the official response to the pandemic grew after Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly said he regretted not locking the nation down more quickly, back in March 2020.

Jo Goodman, co-founder of the group COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice, which claims to represent 2,800 families that lost loved ones during the pandemic, told The Guardian: "It's as plain as day we need a proper public inquiry into the government's handling of the pandemic … Just one in five people think otherwise and, as more and more information comes to light, ever more people are realizing how crucial this is for the whole country."

Goodman told The Guardian the "generation-defining crisis" deserves a process that ensures lessons are learned. "If the government doesn't learn from its mistakes, then how will it save lives in the future," she said.

Many doctors, nurses, and scientists have joined bereaved families in calling for an official inquiry, with the British Medical Association and Royal College of Nursing on record as supporting the idea.

The Guardian said 47 percent of people polled supported a public inquiry being convened, that has the legal power to compel people to give evidence under oath. Only 18 percent were opposed, with 35 percent saying they neither supported nor opposed the idea.

The polling was conducted by ICM in the second week of March.

Many respondents said they would like to know why the UK developed one of the highest mortality rates among the world's large economies. As of Tuesday, the nation of 68 million had recorded 125,690 COVID-19 fatalities.

The paper said people also want to know whether the nation's borders should have been closed sooner, and whether there were issues around the protection of people in care homes, and the provision of personal protective equipment.

Other issues people want addressed through an inquiry include the effectiveness of the National Health Service's test and trace system, and the apparently disproportionate impact of the virus on people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

A public inquiry would likely not be started for several years for logistical reasons, and could run for several years after that, the Evening Standard newspaper said.

2021年1月20日,在英国米尔顿·凯恩斯,在冠状病毒疾病(新冠肺炎)大流行的蔓延中,米尔顿·凯恩斯大学医院新冠肺炎病房的一名护士正在护理一名患者。[图片/机构]根据《卫报》委托的一项民意调查,英国人民强烈支持对政府处理新型冠状病毒大流行的情况进行全面的公开调查。几乎一半的受访者表示他们支持这一想法,只有五分之一的人反对法定的公开调查,其中许多人认为费用而不是缺乏效用是原因。强烈的支持促使一名政府发言人表示:“未来将有一个适当的时间来回顾、分析和反思这一全球流行病的各个方面。”但路透社报道称,首相发言人也表示:“现在不是投入大量官方时间进行调查的时候。”据英国《每日邮报》报道,早在2020年3月,英国首相鲍里斯·约翰逊(Boris Johnson)就表示,他对没有更快地锁定国家感到遗憾,此后,要求对官方对这一流行病的反应进行分析的呼声越来越高。自称代表2800个在大流行中失去亲人的家庭的团体“新冠肺炎为正义而失去亲人的家庭”的联合创始人乔·古德曼告诉《卫报》:“很明显,我们需要对政府处理大流行的方式进行一次适当的公开调查……只有五分之一的人不这么认为,随着越来越多的信息被曝光,越来越多的人意识到这对整个国家是多么重要。”古德曼告诉《卫报》,“定义一代的危机”应该有一个确保吸取教训的过程。“如果政府不从错误中吸取教训,那么未来它将如何拯救生命,”她说。许多医生、护士和科学家与死者家属一起呼吁进行官方调查,英国医学协会和皇家护理学院记录在案支持这一想法。《卫报》表示,47%的受访者支持召开公开调查,这有法律权力迫使人们宣誓作证。只有18%的人反对,35%的人说他们既不支持也不反对这个想法。投票由ICM在3月的第二周进行。许多受访者表示,他们想知道为什么英国是世界上死亡率最高的大型经济体之一。截至周二,这个拥有6800万人口的国家已经记录了125690名新冠肺炎遇难者。该报称,人们还想知道该国的边境是否应该更早关闭,以及是否存在保护养老院人员和提供个人防护设备的问题。人们希望通过调查解决的其他问题包括国家卫生局测试和跟踪系统的有效性,以及这种病毒对黑人和少数民族背景的人的明显不成比例的影响。《标准晚报》称,由于后勤原因,公众调查可能几年内不会开始,而且可能会持续几年。

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