June 16, 2024


International Student Club UK

Shielding UK mother of seven given “final warning” by schools over COVID-19 absences, also facing homelessness


Laura Baines is the mother of seven children between the ages of eight and 25. Her 15-year-old son Louie suffers from cri-du-chat syndrome, a rare disease resulting from a chromosomal condition where a piece of chromosome 5 is missing. The syndrome ranges in its severity, but Louie is at the high end. He cannot walk and is fed through a peg in his stomach, but Laura says he is a “bundle of laughs and mischief.”

Because of his condition and her own fibromyalgia and asthma, Laura has been shielding since the start of the pandemic, home schooling the youngest four children, including Louie, for more than two years.

In this interview, Laura gives her testimony to the Global Workers Inquest into the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Laura and Louie

Can you tell the Global Workers Inquest about Louie’s condition and how it impacts him and the family?

Louie’s cri-du-chat syndrome is quite severe, but we have always treated him like our other children. We’ve had to fight every step of the way though for help. If it wasn’t for the midwife I had, I don’t know what we would have done. Normally children with this syndrome are identified because of their failure to thrive but my son was an average, normal weight. I knew something was wrong though, and I kept saying so. She could see it too so pushed for more blood tests and it came back showing that he had it.

I was so relieved to know that what was wrong with him had a name. At the time, however, there was little support available. We were given a single sheet of paper with the name of an Australian support group. 

Because of his condition, I’m used to having to deal with seasonal respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), flu, chest infections, pneumonias, pleurisy and general viruses and I’ve followed them all with interest and concern. I have chronic asthma and it became a bigger concern obviously after we had Louie.

We were trained by his respiratory team in northern England to keep him away from anyone with the slightest sniffle. We’ve seen him go from catching a sibling’s cold to being on standby for a transfer to the children’s hospital to be intubated as the high dependency unit couldn’t help anymore. So, we have been extremely careful around COVID.

What have the last two years been like for you? What’s your estimation of the government’s “herd immunity” strategy and its reasons?

When we first started hearing reports about China at the start of 2020 and then seeing they were already wearing masks, sanitising and locking down, I kept wondering why we were doing nothing in this country. I knew it was airborne as a cough was listed in symptoms so that told me it was going to spread through the air.

We knew the government were stalling so we had to act. I went into Warrior Mama mode as I call it. And this hasn’t stopped. I began looking for alternative news myself and started stocking up on masks, etc. We already run a tight infection control regime with Louie’s care needs and have since his birth.

Louie has no voice at all, and I knew the sick and disabled were always pushed to one side, so the only thing to do is make sure he doesn’t get it. I was afraid, but not irrationally. It’s more like I know I can do this, it’s literally what we’ve been doing for 15 years for Louie. Infection control for us is a way of life because we live with someone who is immunocompromised.

We got to the first week of March 2020 and, after discussing with my husband, we decided to pull the children out of school. We discussed it with each school. Each school agreed and consented.

At every stage those who are meant to be in control have failed. When they found out about COVID, they could have stopped all flights etc straight away and had controls. Once it is contained, then it’s a question of testing and mitigations. That’s just basic hygiene control. It’s what they do on a farm with an outbreak of foot and mouth, for example.

I say the government has failed but really it’s done exactly what it set out to. Disaster capitalism happens in disasters. If you choose not to mitigate against the said disaster, then you can prolong the time while you capitalise on it.

The government saw an opportunity in this pandemic plain and simple. An opportunity to make money. Not for “Joe Public.” For those who were already wealthy. The millions they have given their donors/friends for fake PPE [personal protective equipment] etc could have been spent on implementing measures to eradicate it.

They knew full well people have family sick and people were dying. This is my family, and we all want to live but we have a government that is using eugenics as they feel fit. They are doing nothing at all to protect us from an airborne virus that can kill us. We can’t just shrug this off as we have underlying conditions that would leave us fighting for our lives if we caught it.

I’ve had to argue for Louie’s vaccines. The first, due to his age, was off licence and the second took ages to approve. What chance does he have when they have stopped masks, testing and isolation?


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