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We must learn the lessons of Covid before another deadly disease strikes | Letters
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We must learn the lessons of Covid before another deadly disease strikes | Letters

Robin McKie’s article rings alarm bells for global health and our failure to control airborne pathogens (“What virus will cause the next pandemic? It’s flu, say scientists”).

We are rightly looking with concern at the spread of H5N1 and the risk it poses to humans, but we have still not applied the hard-won lessons learned from Covid 19. While all agencies and experts now (belatedly) admit to Covid’s airborne spread, very little has been done to make indoor spaces safer for us all, and the clinically vulnerable in particular, for whom shops, workplaces, restaurants, and even clinical settings have become high-risk areas.

With new Office for National Statistics data showing 2 million people reporting long Covid, we need to wake up to the need to improve indoor air quality through better ventilation, filtration or UV disinfection. This should be high on the agenda of the negotiating team crafting the pandemic agreement, to be unveiled at next month’s World Health Assembly. But it remains silent on these essential public health protections. Without global commitment to action (and accountability) we will continue to be vulnerable to waves of deadly and debilitating diseases, with disastrous consequences for society, economy and health services.
Desmond Whyms
Le Dresnay, Côtes-d’Armor, France

Marching to a different tune

Fifty years ago, I was in Portugal (“How Portugal’s 1974 Eurovision entry toppled the country’s fascist regime”). Two weeks into a new job, driving to Faro to pick up my wife and baby daughter at the airport. Greeted by tanks on the runway blocking aircraft landing and Angolan soldiers with mirrored sunglasses brandishing AK47s in the arrivals terminal.

There was nothing on the radio about a pop song linked to the revolutionary left. The rallying call of the revolution was A Life on the Ocean Wave, the anthem of the Royal Marines. I have no idea why. On 25 April 1974 that was played repeatedly on the radio, and for many days after. Whenever there was a rumour of a counter coup, A Life on the Ocean Wave was broadcast on state-controlled radio, mobilising shotgun-armed farmers in the Alentejo and Algarve to blockade roads to Lisbon and mobilising students armed with AK47s in Lisbon to career around the streets in army trucks. Whenever you heard the anthem, it was time to stay home with your head down.
Christopher Walton
Launceston, Cornwall

In negativity, nobody wins

Stewart Lee is spot on (“Andrew Neil needs to be more Vorderman, less Voldemort”). The reason this world is in such a mess is entirely due to greed, ignorance, loss of faith in ourselves, poverty, overbreeding and worship of money. The humanitarians are doing their best to climb mountains. The charities are saving lives. George Monbiot is raising awareness of the responsibility we all have to take care of the planet.

The thing we all have is an ability to create. If we choose positivity and good works, we flourish. If we wallow in negativity, nobody wins. Ultimately, we all have an opportunity to choose life, health and happiness over death and destruction. The only real power we have is our signature, and our ability to vote. Consider your own conscience and your own family and friends. Do not accept the lies told without checking the facts. The world can do better.
Julie Taylor
Kippax, Leeds

The Observer has historically been the vehicle and stimulus for many changes for the better in the UK. Could you not initiate a movement to invite Stewart Lee to be in charge of, you know, everything?
Brian Smith

Denim, legacy of empire

“Does this painting prove denim predates Levi’s by 200 years?” asks your article. Denim is a legacy of empire. Far from being western, the origins of denim go back to India in the 16th century to the port of Dongri, from where we get the word dungarees. Sailors on the ships using Dongri wore this hardwearing blue fabric and the production of cotton and indigo in this part of the world was primarily by slave labour. This was beautifully depicted by The Singh Twins in their piece entitled Indigo: The Colour of India as part of their Slaves of Fashion exhibition (2018).
Jenny Payne

Change debt collection law

Given that the fundamental principle of English law is that one is innocent until proven guilty, should debt collection agencies not be required to prove beyond all reasonable doubt their accusations against people whom they claim owe money (“Unregulated ‘identity tracers’ harass people for debts they do not owe”)? One recalls the tragic case of Beryl Brazier, who was falsely accused and harassed by one such agency over a debt and in 2012 was driven to suicide. While regulation of debt collection agencies is to be welcomed, a change in the law is needed immediately.
Chris Waller

Why the silence on Qatar?

Thank you to Kenan Malik for mentioning the shutdown of the congress for Palestine in Berlin on 12 April (“Left silences right, right silences left. But censorship stops us pushing for change”). As a German national, I find it difficult to believe how little coverage the shutdown and the muzzling of Yanis Varoufakis was given in the German media. I also find it surprising how little protest there is against the state of Qatar, which is happily giving refuge to the leaders of Hamas. Where are the calls to shut down ties with Qatar for supporting Hamas? Or is it that there is just too much capital involved in Qatar and therefore Qatar is beyond criticism?
Dr Britta Kleinsorge

A royal development too far

Rowan Moore’s article on Faversham is not the first and I fear will not be the last (“Is Kent ready for the next Poundbury?”). In the last few years, the town has grown enormously; in fact, it is encircled by new developments. I have always respected King Charles’s foresight on environmental issues, but to build a Poundbury mark 2 on our town’s boundary, using up yet more productive land, is a travesty. With Poundbury, a point has been made as to how new developments could be. Leave it at that.

With respect to his majesty, he is not a property developer, nor should he be.
Carol Isern
Faversham, Kent

Warring families

(“When royals marry among themselves, it brings an unexpected peace dividend”). However, the case of Queen Victoria and her grandchildren proves the converse; it didn’t prevent Russia and Germany going to war in August 1914 followed by Britain.
Andrew Hudson
Ulverston, Cumbria

Elementary, my dear Rodney

In “Revealed: the next Sherlock Holmes author, with a twist in the tale”, Vanessa Thorpe compares the longevity of Holmes and his deerstalker with the now unrecognised “boxing gloves of Rodney Stone” (another Doyle hero). Not surprising, Stone was a bare-knuckle fighter. I should know; I was named after him by my late father, Fleet Street legend, Peter Wilson.
Rodney (Steve) Wilson
Wantage, Oxfordshire

Source: theguardian.com