The Green Party is calling on the government to urgently put in place Community Shields across the country before lifting the coronavirus lockdown.
They are even more vital in the poorest communities where death rates from the virus are twice as high as in the wealthiest areas.
Community Shields are local, community-based protection schemes to detect, test, isolate and treat every case, and trace any contacts.
Co-ordinated by Public Health England’s regional Outbreak Management Teams, these community schemes would include systems such as NHS 111 phone service, GP surgeries and local authority public and environmental health teams, and also make more use of the 750,000 volunteers signed up to the NHS Volunteer Responders Programme.
In its report ‘Building a Community Shield to suppress the Coronavirus’ the Green Party sets out a comprehensive plan on how to do achieve this, including how to protect privacy when using track and trace technology.
Community Shields will work on suppressing Covid-19 by monitoring its spread, but also provide support for people with the virus and help to reassure us all as the lockdown is lifted.
A single phone app is absolutely no substitute for a fully-resourced, community-based protection scheme, as we have seen used so effectively in other countries.
On top of the deaths of health and care workers, the higher rate of deaths amongst black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and men, the latest shocking statistics from the Office for National Statistics show Covid-19 is hitting hardest in areas where people have low incomes, cannot work at home and live in cramped housing conditions.
They are also more likely to have long term health conditions, health inequalities that have increased alongside income and housing inequalities since 2010. These areas need community shields to protect them.
The government has wasted enough time already. It needs to act now to put in place effective structures for testing, isolating and tracing before lifting the lockdown.
Oldham & Saddleworth Green Party