IT is one of tens of thousands of tiny red hearts with the names of covid victims on the wall on London’s south bank across the river from the Houses of Parliament.

For Sam Swales having her late partner Mark Walsworth’s name on the National Covid Memorial Wall to the 150,000 plus people who have covid listed on their death certificate is significant.

The first anniversary of the 49-year-old’s death was marked on April 18 and the lives of Ms Swales and the family he left behind have been shattered.

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He was among those who caught covid just as the UK was heading for the first initial lockdown last March and worked as an engineer in the oil and gas industry.

Ms Swales, 47, last saw her partner when he went into hospital in Aberdeen on April 8 and had to say goodbye to him on a tablet device before he died on April 18, 2020.

Still raw with grief, 12 months on Ms Swales now agonisingly looks on as she sees other people go through the same loss and sense of helplessness.

A woman writes in a heart on the National Covid Memorial Wall on the Embankment in London

A woman writes in a heart on the National Covid Memorial Wall on the Embankment in London

It’s why she believes she and thousands of other families are entitled to answers and supports calls for a public inquiry into how the pandemic was handled and what could have been done differently.

“I lost my partner 12 months ago and while it might not seem a long time to me, it is still very raw, there are people dying and families suffering losses in the same way we did months ago,” said Ms Swales a public health nurse.

“It is all governments, all four nations of the UK, who are responsible for the lives of their citizens and I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to learn lessons from this to save more lives in the future."

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Her comments come as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said a four-nations inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic should begin this year.

As reported in Monday's Herald, Ms Sturgeon added she had already committed to an inquiry covering Scotland in 2021, but said a UK-wide inquiry could also look at issues affecting each nation.

The Prime Minister has previously said he supported holding an inquiry into the UK's response to Covid-19 but a timescale has not yet been set.

Sam Swales with partner Mark Walsworth who died from covid

Sam Swales with partner Mark Walsworth who died from covid

The SNP's election manifesto says there should be a "person-centred" public inquiry that would hear from those who have lost loved ones to the virus.

Ms Sturgeon added: "There is no doubt it would be beneficial to have an inquiry that could look across the four nations as well as at specific issues within each nation - this would help provide answers to families, businesses and all those who have made sacrifices over the last year.

"I hope all governments across the UK will join me in committing to a full public inquiry starting later this year."

Sam Swales paid tribute to Mark Walsworth with a red heart at memorial wall

Sam Swales paid tribute to Mark Walsworth with a red heart at memorial wall

Ms Swales also believes timing is key, adding: "What are we waiting for? This virus is still with us and more people will die so surely we have a right to know what could have been, why did our loves ones have to die in the way they did. Why do people not want answers? We shouldn’t have to wait until the pandemic is over to learn lessons from it. Where is the compassion but also outrage that so many people have died.”

Keen hillwalker James Yeats died on April 8, 2020

Keen hillwalker James Yeats died on April 8, 2020

Doting grandfather and Keen hillwalker James Yeats, from Whitburn in West Lothian, had just finished his full week of shifts back at work following an operation in November 2019 when lockdown happened. Both Mr Yeats, 58, and his partner Alison Saunders were unwell in the days after the national lockdown was announced, but Mr Yeats’s condition did not improve.

He was admitted to hospital on March 28, 2020 and died a few days later on April 8.

Ms Saunders, 64, believes there should be a public inquiry and that as the country went into the first national lockdown together, there needs to be a UK inquiry.

“For the families of the 150,000 people who died this is never going to go away,” she added. “We need to have a public inquiry at the earliest opportunity and should have been looked before the latest wave when we have had many more deaths.

“I want answers and I want an apology. Someone has to be accountable for the way things were handled.”

Covid-19 Bereaved families for Justice UK say their focus remains on a public inquiry to provide answers.

A spokesman said: “We would like to see commitments to an inquiry and to having the bereaved families involved in setting the terms of reference for the said inquiry.”

Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour health spokesperson said they have been calling for a full public inquiry into the pandemic in Scotland.

Ms Baillie said: “There should be no further delay as there are unique lessons that Scotland must learn from this crisis which should inform our National Recovery Plan."

While Scottish Conservative health spokesman Donald Cameron said they would also support an inquiry into all covid-related deaths in Scotland, adding: "The scope would likely be Scotland-specific given it is a devolved matter."

The Scottish Greens and LibDems were contacted for comment.

A UK Government spokesperson said: “Every death from this virus is a tragedy and our sympathies are with everyone who has lost loved ones.

“As we have previously said, there will be an appropriate time in the future to look back, analyse and reflect on all aspects of this global pandemic.”