Following Liz Truss’ resignation and a cabinet reshuffle, the new health secretary must take a new direction. The Covid pandemic is not over. We are entering our first Covid winter without free access to lateral flow tests, adding another cost to staying alive in the sixth largest economy in the world. 2.3 million people are reported to be experiencing Long Covid (3.5% of the UK population), case rates remain high, and new variants are even now spreading across the country. Steve Barclay must take action now.
We will make it easy for him. This is what he needs to do:
– Reintroduce free testing for all
– Mandate mask-wearing on public transport and crowded indoor public spaces
– A public sector test-and-trace system
– Bring about safe working, studying and socialising, including Covid-safe workplaces
– Ventilation – the widespread installation of HEPA filters and CO2 monitors, and the establishment of mandatory criteria for air quality in indoor spaces
– Vaccination – boosters to be available to everyone
– Long Covid – financial support for those impacted by long Covid; for it to be recognised as a disability under the Equality Act and as an occupational disease; and funding for ongoing research
These are the steps which need to be taken immediately to reduce the spread of this virus. The now-former prime minister claimed that an “anti-growth coalition” is responsible for all of the United Kingdom’s ills, but it is a ‘Covid-Growth Coalition’ of political leaders, desperately gaslighting us to make us think the virus is not still with us, that is doing seemingly irrecoverable damage to a country already ransacked by austerity.
If the new prime minister and indeed any currently elected politician wants to leave a legacy of anything other than death and despair, we cannot continue holding our hands over our ears and pretending everything is fine. We must take Covid action now!
Joan Twelves, a member of the COVID ACTION steering committee said: “For nine months now the Tory government has been gaslighting people into believing Covid is over. Yet nearly 800 people died from Covid in England in the week beginning 10/10/22, and nearly 8,000 were hospitalised. Thousands were off work, sick. The number of people with Long Covid is rising every week. Rishi Sunak spent £850 million on Eat Out To Help Out in August 2020, a country-wide-superspreader-event which may have caused a sixth of Covid clusters that summer. Regardless of who is Prime Minister, or Health Secretary, until the government acts to protect us from this still deadly disease, we all remain at risk.”
WHO ARE WE?
COVID ACTION is a grassroots, activist campaign of individuals and affiliated labour and trade union organisations who came together in November 2020 to challenge the UK government’s approach to the pandemic.
We are putting forward an alternative strategy, aimed at eliminating community transmission of Covid-19. We are campaigning for this to be adopted by Labour and all other political parties, the Westminster government, and the governments of the devolved nations, in order to save lives, prevent the collapse of the NHS and care systems, and stamp down on Covid-19 and all its variants.
An elimination strategy has been supported by numerous scientists, doctors, epidemiologists, and public health experts, and has been implemented by several countries around the world. We want to see Covid transmission driven down to the lowest possible levels, to stop more new variants emerging, and to end the continued threat to the lives, wellbeing, and economic potential of global communities.