Government urged to adopt 'zero-Covid' strategy to wipe out coronavirus in England

21 August 2020, 11:57

An All-Party Parliamentary Group on has called for the Government to adopt a "zero-Covid" strategy
An All-Party Parliamentary Group on has called for the Government to adopt a "zero-Covid" strategy. Picture: PA Images
Ewan Quayle

By Ewan Quayle

The Government has been urged to commit to a "zero-Covid"' strategy across England by a cross-party group of MPs and peers.

In a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Covid-19 said the measure would "provide clarity and reassurance" to the public.

It follows an inquiry by the group into the Government's response to the pandemic, which warned of the risk of a second wave of the virus in winter.

As well as calling for a "zero-Covid" approach, the group recommends that ministers set a target to reduce the number of new cases seen in England over a seven-day rolling average to no more than one new case per million population per day.

Currently, around 12 cases per million are reported in the UK each day, with 812 new infections confirms yesterday.

Read more: Coronavirus second wave could see 120,000 deaths this winter, say scientists

Group chairwoman, Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran, said that the Prime Minister must now "get a grip" on the crisis.

She said: "The Government has failed abysmally to put a clear strategy in place to eliminate coronavirus from the UK.

"This lack of clarity has left the public confused and our NHS and care staff flying blind.

"The Prime Minister must get a grip and introduce a comprehensive plan to control this deadly pandemic before this winter.

"We urgently need an effective communications strategy with clear messaging to the public, including by immediately reinstating daily press conferences."

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Measures proposed to help meet the target include accelerating the development of a "locally lead and locally coordinated, but nationally supported" Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support (FTTIS) programme in England.

The group also suggests devolving public health outbreak control efforts in responding to local flair-ups, as well as reinstating the daily coronavirus briefings which were ended in June.

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Working from home should be "actively encouraged," says the group, and social distancing measures across England should also be maintained until its zero-Covid goal is achieved.

The group also suggests that coronavirus screening should be introduced at transport hubs including train stations, as well as highly transited locations such as shopping centres and supermarkets.

Introducing enforceable post-travel requirements such as a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of arrival and screening on all UK entry points combined with quarantine at a regulated locations, has also been suggested by the group.