Warning Lights: Ten Actions For Covid Elimination

Overview —

A proposal to create a decentralised Covid response strategy designed to eliminate the virus from within Scotland and to create a consistent approach to responding to future outbreaks.


Craig Dalzell

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The Common Weal think tank has produced a new report proposing that Scotland moves to a decentralised ‘traffic light’ system for Covid management like many other  countries have. This creates a consistent means of measuring and responding to the risk of Covid outbreaks and enables it to be applied at the most local possible level.

The aim of the proposal is that in the shortest possible time we get to a position in Scotland where the greatest number of people are able to live as normally as possible for the greatest proportion of the time until a Covid-19 vaccine is developed and successfully deployed. It is also designed so that there is consistency in response rather than a ‘tailor-made’ lockdown being imposed centrally each time there is an outbreak.

A series of ‘colour coded’ indicators would be produced and each would have a defined measure to indicate when that state had been reached:

Red: an area with widespread community transmission
Amber: an area with multiple local outbreaks or moderate levels of community transmission
Green: an area with limited outbreaks driven by incoming travellers with no more than very limited community transmission
White: an area with no known instances of the virus outwith any local quarantines
Null: an area where lack of testing means that the state of the virus is not sufficiently well known.

The more localised such a system can be the fewer people are affected by control measures – there is no need to lockdown entire local authority areas if Scotland moves to mass community testing (which is also called for in the report). The report then goes on to set out a model of types of approach to virus control under each ‘traffic light’ condition which have been used in Scotland or in other countries to indicate the kind of regimes which would be necessary under each.

Common Weal is not medical or public health think tank and this report is derived from a review of international public policy; the control measures proposed in the report are intended as indicative measures to help illustrate the approach. The report does not set ‘thresholds’ for when each state is reached as this is a scientific and medical  determination.

The ten measures covered in the report are not intended to be comprehensive and Common Weal has published separately on care homes here and here. The included measures are:

• Create a traffic light system
• Decentralise responsibility for managing the system
• Focus on community wellbeing in areas with greatest restrictions
• Undertake mass random sample testing through a community testing model
• Protect public servants
• Protect schools
• Undertake planning and ‘wargaming’
• Support vulnerable economic sectors
• Manage borders and isolate cases
• Verify compliance.

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