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NURSES, doctors, trade unionists and health campaigners staged a National Day of Action across Britain over the weekend against the government’s catastrophic Covid-19 policies.
In London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Sheffield, Wellingborough and other areas on Saturday, protesters slammed the government’s “learning to live with the virus” approach and demanded a “Zero Covid Strategy.”
They said the “best Christmas present” PM Boris Johnson could give is to replace the “failed” three-tier system of restrictions.
Protesters’ demands include replacement of the government’s £12 billion “discredited private test and trace system” with one based around council, NHS and public health structures — and excluding private firms such as outsourcing company Serco.
They also called for more effective restrictions, better pay for people isolating and/or unable to work, fully compensated closure of non-essential workplaces and proper safety measures in workplaces that remain open.
Campaigners warned that the much-trumpeted announcement of a vaccine to stop the spread of infection “will not be rolled out in time to prevent a catastrophe this winter.”
The protest came at the end of a week in which the number of British deaths directly attributed to Covid-19 passed the 60,000 mark.
The Zero Covid campaign was launched in November and is supported by trade unionists, academics and health experts including leading figures in Unison, BFAWU, NEU, Unite, UCU, RMT, campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and workplace safety campaign group Hazards.
As campaigners protested on the streets, a simultaneous online rally was held.
Dr David Strain, a Covid hospital ward consultant in Exeter, said: “I have seen more deaths in the past six months than in the first six years of my career. And it is a horrible death.”
Roger Lewis of DPAC said: “Government policy on Covid started with herd immunity. This is a dream for the eugenicists. We’ve got a government stuffed with eugenicists. We are in a fight for survival.”
National Union of Students president Larissa Kennedy also backed the campaign, saying that “students have been done dirty during this pandemic, from the A-level fiasco onwards.”
She added: “Students were repeatedly lied to over the summer about the possibility of face-to-face teaching. In September, everything was put online and students were exploited for fees and rent.
“Then we saw lockdowns across universities and colleges, which vice-chancellors saw again as an opportunity to exploit students.”
The Zero Covid campaign has international links – including in countries where government incompetence or callousness has contributed to mounting death tolls – and in countries where effective government action has halted the spread of infections.
Professor Yaneer Bar Yan of the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT) said on Saturday: “With a few simple measures we could get rid of the disease and we could get back to living normally.
“There are multiple countries that have been able to achieve this, including early responders like Taiwan but also countries that showed recently that when there is an outbreak it is possible to suppress it and get to zero — and that includes parts of Australia.
“They are all celebrating Christmas as normal, with families, because they have gotten to zero. It just takes a few steps to get there and it doesn’t even take that long.”
He said one aspect of the pandemic “makes my blood boil.”
“That’s the story about a society that doesn’t care. It’s a society that has convinced itself that selfishness is the way to personal advancement … Societies that have been successful in dealing with Covid are societies that care about each other.”
The campaign’s website can be found at zerocovid.uk
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