THE new national lockdown will last at least four weeks and, as has been admitted, could last for a lot longer. How have we got into this terrible situation?

I think there are two main reasons. Firstly, there is the utter incompetence of Johnson, Cummings and the rest of this awful government.

Johnson was warned by SAGE about what he had to do on September 21, nearly six weeks before he finally announced the lockdown, but he ignored the science.

Consequently, the lockdown will be harder and longer than it ever needed to be.

Secondly, we have the failings of the Serco-run Testing and Tracing system, on which a staggering £12bn of our money has been handed over to friends of the Tory Party after no proper tendering process. The person in charge of this fiasco is Dido Harding, who has absolutely no public health experience, but just happens to be married to a Tory MP.

The Track and Trace system must be brought back into public hands as a proper NHS system as a matter of the utmost urgency.

In the meantime, we must all act responsibly and help each other to get safely through what promises to be a long and difficult winter.

Not following the rules will bring a national catastrophe down on us.

If we can all help each other then perhaps a better and kinder country will emerge from this nightmare.

Peter Sagar, Heaton, Newcastle.