Campaigners in Europe say their government’s efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic have failed, and have launched a petition advocating for the imposition of a simultaneous “hard lockdown across Europe.”

The “ZeroCovid” petition, launched in Berlin and Vienna had drawn 17,000 signatures by late Thursday, branding Europe’s year of “patchy efforts” since the pandemic’s outbreak a “failure.”

“The strategy of controlling the pandemic has failed (‘flatten the curve’). It has restricted life permanently and has still brought about millions of infections and tens of thousands of deaths. We now need a radical change in strategy: not a controlled continuation of the pandemic but its end. The aim cannot be 200, 50, or 25 new infections – it has to be zero.”

“Thousands of people die every day, even more get infected,” wrote campaigners, who said Europe’s “enormous wealth” held by a “few individuals” should assist people on low incomes via a “covid-solidarity fee on high estates.”

Instead of trying to “flatten the curve” depicted in infection statistics, the “radical” goal of reaching zero required a “proper shutdown of the economy,” they said, urging all European nations to “act swiftly and at the same time.”

“Measures implemented by governments are not enough: they are prolonging the pandemic instead of ending it, and they are putting our lives in danger.”

Break the wave

“Shutdown means: we reduce our direct contacts to a minimum — also at our places of work… schools must be closed with tuition online and labor unions focused on solidarity during the short pause.”

Protecting health and democratic rights was “no contradiction,” they insisted, saying once case numbers were low, local outbreaks must be contained “energetically.”

The petitioners, including medics, intellectuals and activists prominent on other issues such as climate change and refugees, cited the End Coronavirus campaign which began in Britain early last year, and a call made by European scientists via the Lancet magazine in mid-December.

That message was: “break” the wave through stringent restrictions, avoiding a third wave through “testing, contact tracing, isolation,” coupled with vaccinations.

Likewise, “ZeroCovid” campaigners said wages needed to be raised for health and care work, asserting that “profit-oriented” clinics endangered common health and urging that vaccine production shift into the public realm as “a global common.”

Among the first signatories was Berlin-based philosopher and author Bini Adamczak.

“We have to get away from the lurching course in which governments always react to predictable things — only after the fact.”

“The measures that are then adopted restrict life just as severely, but then have to remain in place longer in order to have an effect,” she added, DW reported.

Proven elsewhere

Germany’s Protestant church pointed out that “zero Covid” containment drives over the past year in Australia and New Zealand attributed to closed borders, tracing, and rigorous social distancing, had led to successes, DW said.

Amid 93 million infection cases worldwide, and some 2 million fatalities over the past year, Australia’s death toll stood at 909 and New Zealand’s at 25, the German broadcaster reported citing the Johns Hopkins registry in the United States.

In Berlin, the Robert Koch Institute early on Thursday reported 1,244 coronavirus-related deaths, Germany’s highest daily toll.

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Presh JM Reporter

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