Campaigns regarding the government’s approach to the pandemic
We will include multiple examples of demands regarding the UK government’s approach to the pandemic when we can. For now, we are only aware of one. We are sharing it for interest, as a group we have not yet taken a decision to endorse this statement – but do feel it underlines the seriousness of what we are trying to communicate, and why we have felt it necessary to organise a community response in the absence of swifter and clearer government communication:
- “It’s time for a lockdown and extensive COVID-19 testing: an open letter to the UK government” [first published 19th March] https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdkBXEWE3L_MzTjSVeykF9qUBmQy0K0pqB_fCznkB6nkXsGTA/viewform
“Today [19th March] Italy’s Covid-19 death toll rose to 3,405 overtaking China’s, with 41,035 confirmed cases [Italy death toll now 4,825, with 53,578 cases]. Two weeks ago the number of cases in Italy was 2,502, fewer than the number of confirmed cases in the UK today [UK cases 19th March – 3,269, 21st March: 5,018]. The UK is losing a very small window of opportunity to minimise the morbidity and mortality from the COVID-19 outbreak and to prevent a health system collapse. The government needs to enforce measures to reduce community spread and give time for the health system to prepare and cope [the government has since introduced some measures such as closure of restaurants, pubs, and schools – see our daily update https://neighbournetworks.uk/updates/.]
Lessons learned in terms of public health response from those countries ahead of the UK in the epidemic curve need to be seriously considered and implemented without any further delay. These experiences, along with data, modelling and international guidance are clearly in favour of a package of enforced social distancing measures, extensive case finding, isolation and contact tracing.
Therefore, in response to this unprecedented national health emergency, we urge the UK government to implement an urgent enforced lockdown in the areas highly affected by the virus, while ensuring those most vulnerable in society are fully supported. This should be accompanied by building capacity to upscale testing, case isolation, contact tracing and strategies to identify asymptomatic carriers, starting with our dedicated healthcare professionals and then wide-scale community testing, in line with the World Health Organization’s recommendations.Also of utmost urgency and importance is ensuring adequate protective equipment to frontline healthcare staff. The specific steps towards achieving these actions need to be clearly and transparently communicated. Transparency is crucial to reduce public anxiety and ensure trust and solidarity.
Available knowledge and evidence from countries that have tackled the virus must be used, and be transparently and periodically reviewed to inform immediate and subsequent public health actions. Compassion and science both support the immediate actions we are advocating.”