Yesterday, Munira urged the Government to publish a clear exit strategy from lockdown that focused on vaccinations, Test, Track, & Isolate, and clear communications.
The Covid-19 vaccination presents a light at the end of the tunnel for the crisis. Munira argued for a 24/7 vaccination programme “brought to every high street in the country” that involves not just the NHS, but the military, the private sector, the voluntary sector, local government and community pharmacies. In particular, local independent pharmacies such as Goode’s in Twickenham can help reach some of the more hard-to-reach groups.
Munira also called on the Government not to overlook the importance of a robust Test, Trace and Isolate system. It has a crucial role to play in reducing the transmission of the virus. In particular, Munira pressed the Government to provide better financial and practical support for those self-isolating to help increase compliance with the system.
Finally, Munira also stated that the Government must provide a clear communications campaign around Covid restrictions. Transparency in figures and targets is key to building the public’s trust in the Government’s actions surrounding the pandemic.
Munira’s full speech:
So here we are again: another month, another late lockdown, and all the harm that lockdown brings with it—lost learning, lost livelihoods and loneliness. Yet once again, this drastic and painful action has tragically become our only option, given the alarming rate at which the virus is tearing through our country and the immense pressure on the NHS.
A clear exit strategy from lockdown, to which vaccines are central, is critical so my Liberal Democrat colleagues and I reiterate once again our request to Ministers to publish a clear plan as to how they will meet their initial target of vaccinating the most vulnerable, but also all adults beyond that. This plan needs to involve not just the NHS, but the military, the private sector, the voluntary sector, local government and community pharmacies, whether they are big chains or independents. We need a 24/7 vaccination programme brought to every high street in the country, so that those who are in hard-to-reach groups or those who find the hubs hard to reach can access these life-saving jabs. If the Prime Minister is serious when he says that every needle in every arm makes a difference, why is a physiotherapist in my constituency who has completed all the paperwork and training yet to be called upon? We cannot afford to lose a single day.
Alongside vaccination, we have to continue finding, testing, tracing and isolating every case, and, importantly, supporting every individual with the virus and their contacts. Although we will be better protected from serious illness through vaccination, we must stop transmission, not least given the emergence of ever more variants. That is why it is utterly astonishing that none of the announcements in recent days has mentioned test, trace, isolate. Have Ministers given up on this vital and basic public health tool? People need to be paid to stay at home for 10 days if they have been told to self-isolate, and that is on full pay—not sick pay and not £500 after lots of red tape. It is far cheaper than endless lockdowns. It must come with practical support too.
Finally, compliance and trust is built through transparent communication. What are we all working towards? In particular, what do the numbers need to look like before Ministers will reopen schools? We must not underestimate the impact on children’s learning and wellbeing, and the pressures and stresses that parents, who feel like they have been constantly forgotten about, are under. That is why a robust exit strategy is key, and it is about much more than just vaccination. We cannot keep blaming mutants and variants, we cannot keep blaming the public, and we cannot afford any more deadly delays and incompetence. Responsibility lies squarely at the Government’s door to deliver an efficient vaccination plan, to improve test, trace and isolate, and to communicate openly with the public.