A ‘ZERO-covid’ strategy must be adopted urgently in the fight against coronavirus including screening on public transport and in supermarkets, according to an Oxford MP.
Layla Moran made the call in her role as chair of the all party parliamentary group on coronavirus, which was set up last month and now consists of more than 60 MPs and peers.
It is holding an inquiry over the summer into the UK response to Covid-19, to learn lessons ahead of any potential peak this winter.
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In a letter to the Prime Minister, Ms Moran said the group had received more than 1,000 individual written evidence submissions and heard from professional bodies representing frontline medical staff, scientific and public health experts, social care charities and members of the public.
She said: “Our inquiry will continue throughout September, however it is already clear that to minimise the risk of a second wave occurring and therefore to save lives, an urgent change in UK Government approach is required.”
Ms Moran said it was for this reason the group recommended the government publicly commits to a ‘zero-covid’ strategy in England.
She added: “With the number of new infections in England remaining stubbornly high and with the risk of a second wave ever-present, pursuing a Zero-Covid strategy in England will provide clarity and reassurance to the UK public, reduce the risk of a second wave, and save lives.”
To reduce the risk of a second wave, the group recommended the government also commit to reducing 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.
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Currently in England there are an average of 932 new cases a day. With a population of 56 million, that means 16.6 cases per million people.
To help achieve this, the parliamentary group encouraged the PM to accelerate the development of a locally led and coordinated test and trace with national support, and should be supported by an app to help with contact tracing. The group also want to see public health outbreak control efforts devolved and local authorities be provided with the power and resources to mobilise and scale-up operations.
Ms Moran in her letter to Boris Johnson also called for screening for coronavirus and its symptoms at public transport hubs and at shopping centres, supermarkets, and high street shops.
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This should include temperature checks and testing, with free face coverings and hand sanitiser available. She said people should also be ‘actively’ encouraged to keep working from home.
She said enforceable post-travel requirements such as a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of arrival should also be used to stop the infection coming from overseas, as well as screening on all UK entry points combined with quarantine at regulated locations.