COVID Inquiry Day One: Uncovering the Crucial Moments You Might Have Overlooked


The first substantive hearing of the UK COVID-19 Inquiry opened on Tuesday, with the chairwoman promising a “thorough investigation the people of the United Kingdom deserve”.
Baroness Heather Hallett said she aimed to deliver “timely recommendations that may save lives” as she paid tribute to bereaved family members in her opening speech.
The first module of the inquiry is expected to last around six weeks, during which there will be a focus on whether the pandemic was properly planned for and “whether the UK was adequately ready for that eventuality”.
Lady Baroness Hallett said she intended to answer three key questions: was the UK adequately prepared for the pandemic? Was the response appropriate? And can lessons be learned for the future?
The voices of some of those who suffered most in the pandemic are also set to be heard during the inquiry.

Opening Remarks and Introduction of Key Participants

The UK COVID-19 Inquiry will thoroughly investigate the pandemic that the nation deserves, chairwoman Lady Baroness Hallett has vowed.
She said she had set out an “ambitious” timetable for the inquiry, adding: “To conduct the kind of thorough investigation the people of the United Kingdom deserve takes time and a great deal of preparation.
“If I am to achieve my aim of making timely recommendations that may save lives and reduce suffering in the future, I had no choice.”
The first public hearing of the UK Covid-19 Inquiry starts today – a moment that has been eagerly awaited by the hundreds of thousands of people and families whose lives were irrevocably changed during the pandemic.
Some 227,000 people have died from Covid; at its peak, more than 1,000 were dying daily.
It will fall to Baroness Heather Hallett, the chair of the inquiry, to determine how these deaths came to pass, whether they were inevitable, if the government should have done more to protect its people, and what lessons can be learned from such a heartbreaking loss of life.

Review of Testing Strategies and Challenges Faced

The inquiry is split into many parts, or ‘modules’; the first will assess the UK’s preparedness for and resilience to pandemics – from PPE stockpiles and hospital capacities to simulation exercises and budgeting.
The first-hand accounts of the ordinary people left bereaved by Covid-19 are crucial to the inquiry as it unfolds in the months and years ahead. They will be called upon to discuss the impact of the pandemic on their lives, families and communities and to offer their views on what the government could have done differently in its response.
Many are aggrieved at the government’s delayed decision to lock down. Others are furious at the imposition of restrictions and the impacts this had. Some believe their communities were overlooked and neglected, while some believe that the country did as best it could at a time of unprecedented crisis.
But all are bound by the same tragedy: losing a loved one. Here, they tell their story.
The last time I saw my husband alive was on March 20. I was becoming increasingly worried about him and the spread of the virus, and eventually, the care home and I decided to stop visits – this was a couple of days before the government announced the lockdown.

Testimony from Expert Witnesses on Pandemic Preparedness

Of course, I knew I would miss Vince and that he would miss me, but they were talking about ‘weeks’ at that point, which seemed doable. During those days, I thought I was doing the right thing by staying away and protecting him. The government and health officials told me that it was the right thing to do.
The care home manager was fantastic, and I knew she would do her best to keep the residents safe, even without the PPE she tried so desperately and fruitlessly to obtain. I had no idea then of the charnel houses that care homes would become as infected people were released from the hospital without testing.
During our occasional video calls, I knew Vince wasn’t right. His breathing was shallow, and he wasn’t coherent. It’s hard to look back and realise how uninformed we were.

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Olivia Wilson

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