A campaign was launched by activists in New South Wales, called Locking in to zero: health before profits. It comes as Australia enters a new phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the government of New South Wales abandoning what has been the established practice of every state and territory of maintaining zero or near zero community transmission. virus. By refusing to lock down Sydney early enough, then implementing a weak lockdown – described as a ‘sham’ by many – Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian has driven the state into a health disaster.
The campaign published a connection declaration, who argues: “Rather than eradicate the virus, they are now talking about vaccination rates of 50, 60 or 70% of the adult population as a path to ‘freedom’ and the lifting of restrictions … It’s a change which will result in hundreds, if not tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths, and many more hospitalizations and suffering ”. From this perspective, the campaign makes several crucial arguments.
First, returning to zero community transmission is always possible. The current reproduction rate of the virus in Sydney – the number of new people each infected person will infect on average – is around 1.3. So it’s not so out of control that a proper lockdown can’t reverse the situation. This position is supported by many epidemiologists and doctors, some of whom have organized a group called Zero COVID Australia.
Second, despite the government’s attempts to attribute the outbreak to a lack of compliance with health orders, the virus mainly spreads in workplaces, with workers then bringing it home and infecting their families. This is why the lockdown campaign has insisted that non-essential workplaces such as Bunnings must be closed and essential workplaces must be secured. Deputy Chief Health Officer Marianne Gale recently said that “transmission occurs between workplaces and households. So for the vast majority of people, it’s not just anyone who is doing the wrong thing ”. This is why increasing fines and curfews is unnecessary from a health perspective and is simply aimed at blaming government failures.
“A lack of airborne precautions in businesses and essential services is fueling this problem,” said Dr Noor Bari, who has worked with infectious diseases for many years and spoke at the launch of the campaign. Lockdown to Zero. “There is no reason to assume that a cleaner in a hospital is any different from a cleaner in a supermarket… We need to protect all of these workers by increasing supplies of protective equipment and educating people. how to best use the equipment that we have access to.
Third, the choice of the state government not to put in place measures that will bring us back to zero is precisely that, a choice. “New South Wales and the federal governments have always been motivated not by the health problems of the population, but by concerns for the ‘economy’, that is, by the profits of their donors. party funds and donors. ” The kinds of measures Dr Bari advocates will cost the bosses money, so they don’t take them voluntarily, yet the government does nothing to coerce them. This is the usual sham of corporate “self-regulation”.
Fourth, the health catastrophe that will be unleashed if the NSW government succeeds is not empty speculation, but is simply based on what has happened in the world, where the mantra of ‘living with COVID ”has been implemented. The UK, for example, which has 77% of fully vaccinated adults (around 61% of the total population) currently has around 30,000 new cases of COVID and more than 100 deaths per day. And more than 6,000 are hospitalized. The current outbreak in New South Wales has already resulted in more than 10,000 cases and 65 deaths (as of August 20).
Fifth, how society deals with COVID-19 is a matter of class. Like zero lock declaration said:
“This represents a massive attack on the health of the population, in particular against the working class, the poorest and the migrant communities who have borne the brunt of this pandemic on a global scale … The cries of the owners of companies and their pressure groups, some media columnists and shock-jocks and far-right anti-vax protesters, that the closures are an unacceptable violation of their “freedom” only reveal how little they care about the health and safety of the working class. ”This is tragically confirmed in New South Wales, with an increase in cases among the aboriginal population of Dubbo and surrounding areas, as well as in working-class communities in the west and south. south west of Sydney.
Finally, the economic support during this prolonged confinement is minimal. As governments grant another round of massive tax cuts to the rich, support payments to workers are too hard to come by and well below the poverty line. Most workers have no paid immunization leave and no payment while they self-isolate after being tested.