I wrote to Copeland’s Conservative MP, Mrs Trudy Harrison, in March last year, asking why her Government was ignoring the examples of Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and China, who were, at that time, successfully containing the coronavirus.

Called “zero Covid” countries, they are now joined by New Zealand, Vietnam, Thailand, and arguably Australia.

In terms of deaths, all the above countries, with a combined population of 1.6 billion people, have had just 5,838 deaths. By contrast the UK has had over 80,000 deaths for just 67 million people. Add to that we have spent the vast majority of the last 12 months either in lockdowns or with severe restrictions on our lives, while most zero-Covid countries have not.

You can go to a club in Taiwan, a packed football stadium in New Zealand or a restaurant in Beijing. Once you have effectively eliminated Covid from within your country, by definition you do not need strict social distancing or lockdowns.

Yet, unfortunately, the UK Government is still ignoring these countries.

In our own county, Cumbria police and authorities are having to deal with inept and confusing messaging from the Conservative Government when it comes to rule enforcement. Alongside seemingly blaming the British public, the Government has the country endlessly yo-yoing in and out of lockdowns without a long-term plan.

In contrast to this, the zero-Covid strategy works, has been proven to work, and can be seen as having three core elements.

Firstly, it needs real properly enforced quarantines at the borders, for example in Government requisitioned hotels.

Secondly, it needs a good, publicly-run, locally-led, test and trace system to rigorously find every infected person and isolate them and their contacts.

Lastly, the strategy commits to eliminate the virus entirely within national borders so the need for further lockdowns or restrictions evaporates over time.

I recently watched with incredulity at the pubs and clubs being open in the Channel Islands – part of the UK but with an effective zero Covid strategy.

What zero Covid countries show us is that we don’t need to find some mythical “balance” between protecting the economy and saving lives. We can crush the virus, and this means you save livelihoods, you save businesses and you save lives.

We must be bold and plan for elimination now or we will not escape this cycle of lockdown-release-lockdown-release. Vaccines are an essential tool to beat the coronavirus, but alone they are not enough and future or even current variants of this virus may prove more resistant.

The Government needs to change strategy now to ensure we never ever have another winter like this one.