Implement A Zero Covid Strategy Now

This government is to blame for rising Covid deaths. Ireland has gone from having the second lowest rate of Covid-19 in Europe to the highest rate in the world. Tragically, the numbers of those dying have risen and there has been over 500 excess deaths in January alone.

The responsibility for this disaster lies directly with the government. Back in November, they were told by NPHET not to allow visits between households and the reopening of the hospitality sector at the same time. Yet both were permitted in the week before Christmas.

The government has continually given in to business interest. Even now, 30% of building sites are open because there is a very loose definition of essential work. Any construction for a multi-national firm, for example, is defined as ‘essential’.

We need to shift policy and move away from the Government’s stance of ‘living with Covid’.

Since the start of this pandemic, People Before Profit have been the only party in the Dail – along with Paul Murphy of RISE- calling for a Zero Covid strategy. The Social Democrats have recently joined the call but crucially Sinn Fein are sitting on the fence. If they came out clearly for this strategy, there would be greater pressure on both Irish governments to change tack.

Here is what a zero covid strategy would look like:

  1. Close the airports and ports to all non-essential travel. Where travel is essential insist on a 14 day quarantine in hotels that the state has taken over.
  2. Keep the schools closed. Stop all talk of opening them until the case numbers are down and proper test and tracing measures have been put in place.
  3. Close all non-essential employments – and guarantee workers a living income. The banks got a €64 billion bail-out. Workers need to be supported in this period.
  4. Use the zero Covid lockdown to put in place proper test and tracing facilities. Recruit more health staff on permanent contracts.
  5. Declare a health emergency and take private hospitals into public ownership. Do an inventory of all pharmaceutical facilities and order those capable of producing vaccines to do so. Suspend all intellectual property rules to enable this.

It would be far better if this strategy was pursued on an all-island basis- and the two government should be co-operated to do so. But if this does not happen, a ‘Green Zone strategy’ should be put into effect, based on dividing the country into boundaries which take account of commuting patterns. Travel between zones should be restricted until the virus is suppressed in one area after another.

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