Philip Nolan stated recently stated that due to lack of preparedness this government cannot get us to Level 0 in a matter of weeks.
Zero-Covid has worked in number of contexts in different ways. But never with a govenment which had no serious commitment to establishing the infrastructure needed to get us to Zero-Covid. The goal of the Zero-Covid strategy is the reduction of community transmission through serious tracking and tracing and much more serious control of people’s entry in and out of the airports and seaports as a coordinated 32-county project.
The government’s present policy of ‘Living with Covid’ is an impractical way to stop the virus. ‘Living with Covid’ is very practical in terms of government effort but useless to people living in Ireland, except in helping those invested in big business keep profits.
Look at our new ‘Level 5’. Level 5 doesn’t even make the commitments that are needed to track and trace the numbers we saw. Nor does it anticipate meeting that challenge. It quits. Tracing collapsed weeks ago and is only now up and running. ‘Living with Covid’ is like the driver simply closing their eyes and hoping to stay on the road.
It has left the economy and society vulnerable in many obviously risky ways. The result is that we all endured the yo-yo lockdowns to no effect but the destruction of the lives of the majority of the country. ‘Living with Covid’ is a slow killer. But it is a killer and it’s here.
It is not surprise that the reaction from NPHET is that Zero-Covid is ‘impractical’ -with our current government.
Martin, Varadkar, and Ryan perfectly represent their parties primary focus on business interests. They concern themselves with people’s interests if and when it suits those business interests.
Look at construction and the Foreign Direct Investment sites which are still open. Covid transmission surged in January because we took a profit focussed (not a people focussed approach) to retail at Christmas.
Why defend failed government? Once more Boston than Berlin, Now more New York than New Zealand.
We needed to be responsive months ago. The negligence was obvious then and is underlined by the deaths we see now. We should have in OCTOBER when People Before Profit backed the call made by the Independent Scientific Advisory Group. If we had started in September we could have started our 100 days and been finished for Christmas.
Governments around the world have had great success suppressing the virus using similar strategies but serious changes were needed. Australia and New Zealand are well-known examples.
Ambiguous business-first ‘Living with COVID’ strategies are also easy to see: the US and UK.
Things that make Zero-Covid work include massive hiring and investment into a universal national healthcare systems, comprehensive public information and education programmes, closing schools, easily accessible full pay for workers, and track and trace systems that are robust and ready to grow when new variants show up.
Here governments north and south need to coordinate our efforts. They need to use their power to stop the virus so we can reopen the society safely and the economy within it, north and south. This is difficult but not impractical if we work together for each other starting now.
Is Zero Covid more impractical? It depends on whose Ireland we are discussing. It may be impractical for the Construction Industry Federation to maintain profits as usual. But with a comprehensive plan, 100 days of real participation afterwards, Zero-Covid is the best plan in Ireland. Let’s get behind it.