'They should have handled things earlier' - Bereaved son on Covid inquiry

An ambulance crew load an empty bed onto an ambulance outside the Royal London Hospital, in London.

A campaigner believes a rapid Covid review last summer could have saved lives. - Credit: PA

A bereaved Hackney son hopes the government inquiry into its handling of the coronavirus pandemic will explain why it "took so long to impose restrictions". 

Hackney resident Mert Dogus, 18, lost his father to Covid in March last year. 

Cab driver Haci Ali Dogus, 49, had no underlying health conditions, but died on March 25 after contracting the virus, leaving behind his wife and two sons.

His son hopes the government's public inquiry, intended to take place in spring 2022, will explain why action against the virus took so long, despite the situation escalating in other parts of the world before it hit the UK. 

“I feel like they should have handled things earlier as soon as they knew Covid was spreading quite fast,” he said.

“I don’t think the UK really took it seriously until it started spreading very rapidly here, that’s when the government took action."

The A-level student said his father was aware of the risks, but was the only one working in the household and at the time of his death there was no government support available.

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Mert Dogus added: “It is good that we are having these questions being asked.

“As long as the government are open with everything, we are going to get the answers we deserve.”

The involvement of bereaved families will be “absolutely key” to the success of the independent inquiry, a campaigner has said.

Rivika Gottlieb, whose father Michael died in the first wave of the pandemic, has been among those calling for an inquiry since last year.

Speaking in front of the National Coronavirus Memorial in London, Ms Gottlieb told the PA news agency: “We’ve been campaigning since last May for a review.

“We wanted a rapid review last summer because we wanted lessons learned immediately ahead of a winter spike – that did not happen."

She believes tens of thousands of lives could have been saved had those lessons been learned last summer. She says the idea of waiting another year is "terrifying". 

“I think the role of bereaved families is absolutely key,” she said.

Boris Johnson has said the independent inquiry will put “the state’s actions under a microscope”.

To support the Dogus family visit uk.gofundme.com/f/in-loving-memory-of-haci-ali-dogus