The spread of the novel coronavirus Covid-19 has become a major health crisis, unlike anything seen in a century. At the time of writing, around 156 countries have been impacted, with more than 170,000 infected and more than 6,500 confirmed deaths, including 36 in Britain and 2 in Ireland, with those figures likely to rise dramatically.
There are shortages in many countries of basic medical provisions such as gowns, gloves and proper facial masks. New publicly owned entities need to be established under democratic control to fast-track production of such supplies and life-saving equipment such as ventilators. The disastrous market-driven cuts in hospital funding need to be reversed, by mass struggle led by trade unions and workers’ political organisations. The labour movement and the left internationally must rise to this challenge — the coronavirus shows us that the world is not safe in the hands of capitalism and its politicians.