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Zero Covid campaigners organise online rally and socially-distanced protests

Zero Covid campaigners are calling for a change in government strategy in order to suppress the current COVID-19 cases, which are now more than 20,000 per day.

A zero-covid strategy has been undertaken in countries such as New Zealand and Vietnam. In New Zealand there were three new cases reported on November 18, bringing their total positive cases to 1,652.

It does not mean that there would be no cases at all in England, but that there would be a significant reduction in the transmission of the virus.

Campaigner Roy Wilkes joined forces with some friends in October to create the group which is advocating for a nationwide lockdown and a ‘Find, Test, Trace, Isolate, Support’ method.

He said: “It is certainly feasible, but our government chose not to do it. We started lockdown very late in March, we kept the borders open without checks. The result of all this is that we have the highest death rate in Europe.

“There was no grass-roots opposition or campaign to oppose this, so a few friends and I thought that we should set something up about five weeks ago.”

The group are basing their policies on evidence given by Independent SAGE, who want to develop a support-based community test and trace system along with a 100 per cent pay for anyone who cannot work due to having to isolate.

Zero Covid are placing huge emphasis on the support aspect of their policy.

“There’s no point finding people who have been in contact with those who have COVID, if they cannot afford to be off work. If they need to self isolate, they need to be paid,” said Roy.

Dr Gabriel Scally from Independent SAGE said, “We need to put back some of the restrictions that were effective, such as the 2m rule. We need to have greater emphasis on better ventilation in the workplace and schools, colleges and universities.

“We also need to put in that managed isolation at our ports and airports so that as we get the level down we can avoid reimportation of the virus.”

Independent SAGE have said that if you close educational settings and non-essential workplaces, you can halve the daily transmission rates every week.

They are asking for a complete lockdown, which would include closing all educational settings and non-essential workplaces such as manufacturing and construction.

Any workplaces that remain open should be assessed as Covid safe before employees are allowed to go in.

Zero Covid held an online rally on Saturday 14th November with a panel of guest speakers followed by a Q&A.

Small groups of protesters took to the streets of Greater Manchester at around 2pm on November 14, hoping to raise awareness for the cause.

The campaigners recommended that protesters should either be from one household or support bubble, or should be two people from different households, and should all be socially distanced.

Zero Covid say the key to all of this is support and that the government should guarantee the livelihoods of all those that lose money due to the pandemic.

Organiser Roy explained: “They are already talking about local lockdowns again already.

“In Greater Manchester, we will probably just go straight into Tier 3 and it will just fester for months on end.”

President of the NUS Larissa Kennedy said, “We need a strategy that recognises of all of the other things that are impacting the ways we are able to respond to this virus.

“This is not just impacting physical health but also mental health.”

They feel extra resources should be put in place for the disabled and people from less economically-privileged backgrounds to ensure they get the support they need and don’t lose out on education and the care they would normally receive.

Zero Covid are hoping to organise more socially-distant protests once lockdown is over on December 2.

“This Sunday, we will also be joining other campaigners across Europe in #ZeroCovidDay where a candle is lit in order to remember the dead and fight for the living.”

The group are appealing for more volunteers and fundraisers to support their cause. You can visit their website, or follow them social media: TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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