Orkney Residents Respond to #Covid19 Discussion Paper

“We all want to see the end of the Lockdown as soon as possible, but only when it is safe and we really can control the spread of the virus.”

A group of Orcadians have made representations to the Scottish Government’s consultation paper, ‘COVID-19 – A Framework for Decision Making’.

In their submission they have argued that:

  • The Scottish Government should make clear that it will only relax the lockdown when the WHO six conditions are met.
  • Every effort should be done to make the lockdown effective, including closing down nonessential workplaces.
  • That appropriate measures are put in place to protect people who are either in a high-risk group because of the virus or are suffering because of the effects of the virus.
  • Essential workers are given everything they need to do their jobs safely, including appropriate PPE.
  • The Scottish Government should recognise the unique position of Orkney and other island communities and develop, in partnership with those communities, develop strategies that are more appropriate.

The authors of the submission include local government workers, a teacher, a volunteer NHS ambulance driver, a public health researcher, and a journalist.

The islanders take issue with the Government’s claim that there needs to be a vaccine before the virus can be eradicated and that in the meantime we will need to learn to live with Covid-19.

Yesterday, May 8th, The Faroes claimed to have eradicated Covid19 from their islands.

The Faroes eradicate Covid19

There is still no vaccine for SARS, but we do not talk about ‘living with SARS’. Covid-19 cannot survive for long outside a host, so if transmission is prevented the virus will die out. South Korea and China show that the number of domestic transitions can be eliminated to almost nil with most new cases coming from outside the countries.

The submission explains that:

Worldwide, there has been two different strategies:

  1. The strategy pursued in many countries in the East/Pacific (i.e. South Korea, China, and New Zealand) which is to eradicate the virus; and
  2. The strategy pursued in many states in the West (i.e. Italy, France, Spain, the UK including Scotland) which is to suppress the virus which will mean, as the Document explains, ‘we will need to learn to live with this virus, possibly for some time to come.’

The impact on loss of life of these two different strategies is stark and illustrated by the following table which shows the number of deaths per million in the following countries:

The writers urge the Scottish Government to learn the lessons from the different strategies following in the East and the West and implement The World Health Organisations Six Conditions in full.

The advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO) states that a lockdown should only be lifted if the following Six WHO Conditions are met:

  1. Disease transmission is under control.
  2. Health systems can “detect, test, isolate and treat every case and trace every contact”.
  3. Hot spot risks are minimized in vulnerable places, such as care homes.
  4. Schools, workplaces, and other essential places have established preventive measures.
  5. The risk of importing new cases “can be managed”.
  6. Communities are fully educated, engaged, and empowered to live under a new normal.

A Different Course for Orkney

The submission also argues for a different course for Orkney and other island communities:

Orkney is an archipelago, there is the prospect of Orkney taking a slightly different course, and there appears to be an appetite for that locally. The number of reported cases is small and although it has been speculated that the true number is closer to 200 to 300, with comprehensive testing, these cases could all be identified, the people they have been in touch with tracked, and those infected and those contract traced. If the WHO Six Conditions are met, certain restrictions could be eased before the rest of Scotland.

If Orkney is to recover economically it is imperative that we can ease lockdown restrictions within our archipelago once it is safe to do so.

George Vickers, one of the spokespersons for the group, said:

“We all want to see the end of the Lockdown as soon as possible, but only when it is safe and we really can control the spread of the virus.”

People have until 10.00pm Monday, 11th of May, to make their views heard.

To read and comment on two of the submissions from the Orkney residents click on the links:

Adopt the WHO 6 Conditions for lifting the Lockdown

Orkney Specific Arrangements

The full submission can be read here: Covid-19 What Next

Stay at Home Brodgar Covid 19 by Stewart Bremenr

Art work by Stewart Bremner


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