Towards the end of lockdown?
We are on the edge of a precipice. Yet this government wants to push us over the edge. According to Public Health England, over 110,000 people have died from COVID-19, 800 in the last week. There is a 7-day average of 10,000 new cases, and 21,000 people are receiving treatment for covid in the NHS.
The review of the lockdown and the consideration of reducing restrictions is already being touted by ministers. Boris Johnson seems determined to send pupils back to school at the beginning of next month and neither pupils nor most teachers will have been vaccinated. Surely that’s a high-risk strategy? Opening the pubs again in April can only lead to a further increase in covid cases.
Yes, 15 million people have had their first vaccination, most of whom won’t get their second jab within the 2-3 week clinical guidance. They will have to wait 12 weeks for greater freedom. What sort of freedom? We don’t know as yet. We don’t know the vaccine efficacy with such long gaps. Even after my second jab, I’m going to be very cautious about where I go and who I meet.
For many disabled people, lockdown is an extension of our everyday lives. We’ve only had more involvement in our communities because everyone else has discovered Zoom. We’re old hands at using it and have been eagerly showing others the way.
Will we go back to crowded meetings in inaccessible halls? Will we suddenly find that unless we go somewhere in person, we cannot access culture or community events?
We have been cocooned, safe in our homes. I’ve not missed busy, noisy shops. I’ve not missed overcrowded public transport. How will we be protected from those who refuse to be vaccinated? Will people still wear masks and observe social distancing?
The scientists say that the lockdown needs to continue, but will the government follow the science? They’ve not done so until now. What would make them actually do the right thing for public health?
Leaving home feels scary with such high levels of infection. If there were only 1,000 daily infections, or 50 deaths, or just 500 people in hospital, that would feel a great deal safer.
The Zero Covid campaign seeks to persuade government to stop the cycle of repeated lockdowns and only lift restrictions when the number of new cases is close to zero. New Zealand, Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam and China have all used this strategy.
If the U.K. had continued with the lockdown in June 2020 (when there were still 31,600 new cases of covid per week) and followed a zero covid strategy, we would not be in lockdown now and tens of thousands of people would still be alive. The Tories reckless strategy of focusing on businesses and profit, rather than people and safety, has blighted the lives of almost every family in the country.
The Independent Sage committee of scientists and the Hazards Campaign for workplace safety have both been advocating for a UK zero covid strategy.
Figures quoted at the end of last year show that only 11% of people who were told to isolate by the NHS Track and Trace did so. This clearly shows why covid is continuing to spread. There must a financial incentive for everyone who is told to self-isolate.
Extra economic support for those who are on low incomes and cannot afford to self-isolate is vital. There must be practical help for people living in overcrowded homes to self-isolate, such as hotel accommodation. The government should compensate everyone who has lost income because of the pandemic.
All ports of entry to the UK must operate covid screening, and where necessary effective quarantine with further testing. The current chaos at airports must end, with passengers from high-risk countries separated out before passport control.
As a nurse, used to ensuring staff follow infection control policies and procedures, to protect those we care for, all of this is common sense. I’m frustrated and angry that this government can’t understand the basics of how and why viruses spread.
Yes, I know the economy is important, but so are people’s lives and their safety. Too many of my friends have already died. There will be too many memorial services to attend.
The NHS waiting lists for surgery and MH services are longer than ever. Surgeries can be moved into the private sector. But that will not work for those people who need experienced psych support. Yes, there will be private services the NHS could access, but they will be quickly over burdened. They are also used to a very different clientele, with very different concerns.
If you want to know more about the campaign, go to the Zero Covid website.