Lib Dem leader wants memorial to frontline workers who died in Covid-19 pandemic

NHS staff and key workers who have died during the nation’s struggle against coronavirus should be given their own memorial marking their sacrifice, the Liberal Democrat leader has said.

Speaking on the eve of Remembrance Sunday, Sir Ed Davey said he wanted to see a memorial built near Parliament to those who have perished while helping in the battle against the pandemic.

The Cenotaph in Whitehall was built to mark the end of the First World War and is now the scene of annual commemorations to pay tribute to those who have died while serving in the armed forces to protect the UK.

Former cabinet minister Sir Ed said, as well as a national war memorial, there should also be a place in the capital to “remember these brave heroes” who died either caring for people or while helping keep society going during Covid.

Almost 50,000 people have died in the UK after being diagnosed with coronavirus, according to official figures.

In July, Amnesty International revealed the UK has recorded one of the highest Covid-19 health worker death tolls in the world, at more than 540 fatalities.

As well as taking the lives of doctors, nurses and carers, those working on the frontline of public services also passed away after contracting the virus.

Last month, Transport for London reported that another bus driver had died, taking the tally to 45 in London alone.

Sir Ed Davey
Sir Ed Davey will attend the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph as Lib Dem leader for the first time (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA)

Sir Ed, who became permanent leader of the party in August, told the PA news agency: “As I attend the Cenotaph as the Liberal Democrat leader for the first time, I’ll be thinking about the enormity of the sacrifices millions of people have made so we can live in a free and safe country.

“Taking part in Remembrance Sunday during lockdown should make all of us think about the the extraordinary sacrifices, key workers, particularly health and care workers, have also made throughout the Coronavirus pandemic to keep us safe.

“I sincerely hope that one day we have a monument in Westminster to those who died in service during this awful pandemic, so we can remember these brave heroes, as we remember with thanks our armed forces who put themselves in danger in the service of our country.”

The country is preparing to mark Remembrance Sunday differently this year, with social distancing restrictions in place across the UK and a full lockdown being enforced in England.

The UK Government has encouraged councils to ensure remembrance services are short, entirely outdoors and held in front of limited numbers.

But, despite allowing open-air services, the Government has stressed to event organisers that the public should be discouraged from attending in person.

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