Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The right thing to do

Yesterday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that Auckland will remain at Alert Level 3 until 11:59pm Sunday, at which time it will join the rest of New Zealand at Alert Level 2. The entire country will then remain at Alert Level 2 for at least a week. The restrictions will be reviewed before Sunday, September 6.

I think this was the right thing to do. There are still cases emerging, and there were two people that caught the virus on a bus. We need to make sure that no one they came in contact with was also infected (which is seen as unlikely, but it pays to be certain). There was also one case that was detected only when they showed up at a hospital emergency department, and that’s also worrying because at the moment they haven’t found a link to existing cases.

The NZ Governmnet’s response to this flare up has been a textbook example in how to respond: Immediately isolate the area where the outbreak has occurred and engage in widespread testing along with contact trtacing of all positive cases. If Melbourne had done that, it wouldn’t have had a horrible, deadly surge. New Zealand learned from what happened there.

This affects me personally because I’m having a small birthday party for Nigel on Saturday so that we can celebrate his life. But keeping Auckland’s Alert Level 3 means that no family and friends who live there can attend (I’ll set something up so they can attend virtually). I hoped that Auckland would go down to Alert Level 3 before Saturday, but I actually didn’t think it would, and for the same reasons that I think keeping the Alert Level intact was the right call: There are still too many possible problems.

From Monday, the Government is making face masks/coverings mandatory on all public transport at Level 2 or higher. There’s not yet any plan to expand that mandate, but, as always, the Government’s actions will be guided by the latest evidence and expert scientific advice.

No one wanted any of this. It’s hard on people, and it’s hard on the economy. Up until the resurgence, the New Zealand economy was rebounding better than most advanced countries. The hit will be bigger now than it would have been without the resurgence.

Still, people will stay alive. Other people won’t have to deal with the still unknown long-term consequences of having had Covid-19. I’ve yet to meet any ordinary person in New Zealand who’d argue that we should prioritise profits over people’s lives, but we have our own rightwing loudmouths spouting off, too. We’ll get through this, just as we have every other challenge the country has ever faced.

What helps is that we have a competent, kind, compassionate, and focused government focused on keeping New Zealanders safe. Seems to me that’s a good position to be in.

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