Today People Before Profit launched their Zero-Covid Strategy- A Roadmap. Zero-Covid is a strategy to eliminate community transmission of Covid-19, prevent an endless series of lockdowns and allow a return to normal social and economic life.
Zero-Covid is not a policy for more lockdowns, it is a policy to prevent further lockdowns. It is a policy and a strategy to bring Covid-19 infections down to a manageable level so that a properly resourced health service, tracking, tracing and testing regime can get ahead of the virus and extract it from the population.
The government’s policy and the policy of the Stormont Executive is one of ‘Living with Covid’. What this translates to is a policy of rolling lockdowns. In the case of the South that means lockdown now for six weeks, open up again for Christmas and then almost certainly instigate another harsh lockdown in the new year flowed by an endless series of on off lockdowns for the foreseeable future. Zero-Covid is a strategy of hope – one that is also less harmful to the economy than that of the Government and the Executive’s plan for lockdown yo-yo- IE a plan with no exit point until a reliable vaccine is found.
The Government plan and that of the Executive runs contrary to the advice of the W.H.O who point out that lockdowns should not be used as a primary tool against the virus- but that they should be used to prepare our health services to cope with the virus. This has not been done by the authorities here. For example, the Irish Health service has now 200 less permanent nurses than before Covid.
In their Zero-Covid Roadmap People Before Profit are proposing the following measures:
- Stop the spread of the virus on an All-Ireland basis
- Build a permanent public testing and tracing system
- Guarantee economic security for workers and the vulnerable
- Invest in the health system and move towards and All-Ireland NHS
- Target meat plants and Direct Provision
- Put public health needs before the needs of private profit
- Transparency and public health education
- Close Airports for non-essential travel
- Create Green Zones to open society
Speaking on the policy, Richard Boyd Barrett TD said: “The government’s policy and the policy of the Executive in the North is a plan that is not fit for purpose. It is not sustainable from an economic standpoint or a social and mental health standpoint to continue the lockdown yo-yo.
“Instead, we are proposing a strategy of Zero-Covid. This policy does not propose to eradicate covid and it does not propose endless lockdowns. It is a strategy that would bring the virus numbers down to a level where they are manageable for the health service.
“For this to work we would instigate a short, sharp lock down, on an All-Ireland basis, and then put the necessary investment into the health system and the tracking and tracing system so that we can find cases when they turn up and isolate them quickly so that the health service is not overrun with rising case numbers. We propose to increase weekly tests to 200,000 and to create Green Zones for areas that have crushed the virus. This requires a top standard tracking and tracing system.
Bríd Smith TD said: “In order to get public buy-in for the measures that have to be taken to defeat this virus we need to take the economic measures to support people during this time. This means that the Pandemic Unemployment Payment should be restored to the full payment of €350 as a basic living income. We would also freeze rents, mortgage payments and repayments on loans for people and small businesses and we would instruct the banks not charge interest.
“We would also ban all evictions until community transmission is eliminated for a period of six months.”
Gino Kenny TD said: “We would implement proper real time and local information so that people are kept up to date in a system where transparency is paramount. We would also instigate Green Zones, areas that have crushed community transmission. Red zones would be areas where levels of community transmission are high.
“As a party we are opposed to the policy of fining people and a policy of coercion. As displayed in the first lockdown and number of months ago, people do conform to restrictions if these restrictions make sense and are communicated properly. The government hasn’t done this. Transparency and public education is one of the most important factors in the battle against covid.”
People Before Profit Dublin North West Representative and Immunology PhD student in the Department of Clinical Medicine at TCD, Conor Reddy, said: “This government’s approach to the pandemic has been a disaster since they came into office. They have failed to build up healthcare capacity to safe levels, they have failed to put in place the contact and case management infrastructure needed to control the virus and they failed during the Summer, when they quickly reopened the economy, just as elimination was within reach. They have no long term strategy to deal with Covid-19, their plan is a series of rolling lockdowns which will hurt workers and communities. There is another way. By supporting people and pushing to eliminate the virus, we can deliver hope and some light at the end of the tunnel.”