There has been a growing call for Ireland to follow a ‘Zero Covid’ pandemic approach. Meath Live managed to speak to Trim Native, Miriam Kelliher, who has been living in Robinstown for over a year. Kelliher has set up a Meath branch for the ‘Zero Covid’ campaign, called ‘Meath Can be Zero’.
The chat is below in Q&a format
1) When did you set up the ‘Meath Can be Zero’ campaign?
Miriam: It was set up at the end of March this year.
2) What measures do you believe need to be put in place to achieve zero covid?
Miriam: Firstly, ‘We can be Zero’ and ISAG (Independent Scientific Advocacy Group) are not advocating for infinite lockdown. Although we have 4 types of vaccines, which is really great news, vaccines alone cannot save us. We need robust measures working in tandem to get us as close to zero as possible.
There is a real way of suppressing this virus and keeping case numbers low- we just need the political will to enforce it, because the public have done all they can. We suppressed the virus last year, we had just 4 cases on the 24th of June 2020. I believe we can do it again, but we need the government to do much more.
Mandatory Hotel Quarantine for all arrivals, needs to be done correctly. NPHET has been recommending this since June 2020. We need a comprehensive track, trace and isolate system, including retrospectively (25% of Covid cases are not fully investigated). We can also support our local public health teams, amongst other measures.
Once we are close to zero, we can reopen cautiously. We would then only need to react to local outbreaks as opposed to looking at case numbers rising again and the whole country going back in to lockdown. We cannot do rolling lockdowns as it means rolling unemployment. We had over 456,000 people on the government’s PUP in March 2021, that doesn’t even include over 137,000 people already on the “live register”.
3) Is it just yourself, or did others help you with this campaign?
Miriam: I initially signed up to volunteer with the nationwide, We Can Be Zero campaign; when I was informed there was no Meath branch/group, I asked if I could start one myself and here I am. The Meath branch’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org if anyone wishes to get in touch.
4) Have you been in contact with many politicians or groups in Meath, that endorse this campaign?
Miriam: I contacted our current Dáil representatives for Meath West a few weeks back and Meath East more recently. I’d like to encourage your readers to contact their elected representatives as well as opposition TDs. We need our public reps to take action.
There is actually a useful automated email on the We Can Be Zero website. You can access it here: https://www.wecanbezero.com/take-action
I’ve had a response from Aontú’s Deputy Peadar Tóibin only, he stated:
“Miriam a chara, I agree with the 5 points but I am not sure how zero covid can be achieved without a longer lockdown.
5) How do you think Covid19 has affected County Meath?
Miriam: Meath is the heritage capital of Ireland, it’s in the Boyne Valley, it’s part of Ireland’s Ancient East. Meath is tourism! We need our restaurants, cafes, shops, adventure activities, pubs and music/comedy venues open again!
Many of Meath’s towns are part of the commuter belt for working in Dublin; many people have been able to work from home, but there are so many that still need to travel for work e.g., food processing workers, health workers etc. So many others are completely out of work. As mentioned before, 456,000 people are currently on the government’s PUP in March 2021.
6) Will you be doing many zoom meetings or what do you have planned with this campaign?
Miriam: ISAG has weekly public meetings that anyone can watch; they take questions from the public and journalists. Their site is https://www.isagcovid19.org/ where the details would be outlined and also on their twitter account: @ISAGCOVID19.