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Posts Tagged ‘Covid-19’

Purpose-built MIQ: National’s sums don’t add up

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Parts of National’s document – to open up Aotearoa New Zealand “to the world” – has been recycled from various policy and media releases last year and more recently.

Despite demanding that the country open up to the outside world and end lockdowns by 1 December, and to “bring all New Zealanders home by Christmas“, National is still demanding that several hundred million dollars be committed to purpose-built MIQ facilities.

Their document, National’s plan to tackle COVID-19, end lockdowns and reopen to the world, calls for “1,000 to 1,500 permanent quarantine units and associated facilities outside of urban Auckland and close to the international airport and health and security workforce“:

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It is unclear why we would need MIQ facilities if the country “opened up” to the rest of the world. With Delta’s ferocious infectiousness, putting anyone into MIQ – irrespective of whether hotels or purpose-built – becomes a pointless exercise in futility. Delta would already be endemic throughout the country; spreading like wildfire; filling our hospitals and ICU beds; and our morgues.

By that stage, MIQ facilities become redundant. (Although Returnees might actually be safer inside a facility rather than outside, protected from an infected wider population.)

However, more to the point, National’s costing for a purpose built facility – which excludes land – is given as “estimated build cost would be circa $200 million” for “1,000 to 1,500 permanent quarantine units and associated facilities“.

It is unclear how $200 million can apply to one thousand units, or fifteen hundred units. The price must surely increase if the build increases. If not, someone is playing loose with construction costs.

It is also unclear where the figure of “$200 million” has come from.

The un-named author of National’s document quotes figures from the Victorian State Government plans for a purpose-built MIQ facility:

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National references the Victorian government’s plans with this URL: www.vic.gov.au/victorian-quarantine-hub.

Except, National’s figure of $200 million – whether for 1,000 or 1,500 units – doesn’t add up.

As this blogger first reported in July this year after National first floated it’s purpose-built MIQ facility some months earlier, it was noticeable at the time that neither Mr Bishop, nor his (current) Leader, had offered any costing for such a massive project:

To provide some broad indication, a planned purpose built quarantine facility in Victoria, Australia, is estimated to cost A$15 million [NZ16 million] to design and a further “A$200 million [NZ$214 million] to build a 500-bed facility and around A$700 million [NZ$750 million]  if it was scaled up to 3,000 beds”.

By comparison, Aotearoa has between 4,000 to 4,500 beds in hotels in Auckland (18), Hamilton (3), Rotorua (3), Wellington (2) and Christchurch (6).

Using the above figures, building a 4,000 bed facility would cost the country well over a billion dollars. With inevitable cost over-runs, the final figure would be anyone’s guess.

Chris Bishop also called for returnees to be paid a wage whilst self isolating;

“We think the government needs to be more generous when it comes to supporting people when they’re told to self-isolate. Earlier this year we announced a policy of the government paying people’s wages when people are ordered to self-isolate. It’s pretty sensible – if the government is saying to you “stay home” and we don’t want you at work – they should pay.”

National’s calls have not been costed – and nor would they be. The agenda from the Opposition is not to demand a more effective Managed Isolation and Quarantine system. Instead, their unspoken aim is,

(A) to paint the Labour government as ineffective, for pure political point-scoring

(B) to pressure the Labour government to adopt costly policies, which would push up borrowing and debt.  Caretaker Leader Collins would then wag a disapproving finger; and tut-tuttingly exclaim,

“It is irresponsible of the government continuing to spend money like it is with no thought as to where it comes from… it is ultimately the government’s decision to waste enormous amounts of money and not to actually put the focus on where it needs to be.”

Clever strategy; force your rival to spend money – then blame them for spending money.

National has now costed it’s proposed purpose-built MIQ – but the sums still do not add up.

In April this year, the Victorian government costed three options for MIQ. The first two were specifically reliant on hired, or mixed new-builds and hired, structures. Option three, purpose-built structures is closer to National’s plans.

Under heading “3.3.3 Project option 3: custombuilt structures”, page 28, the Victorian government plan calls for “entirely of purpose-built structures designed to remain permanently on the site“. Furthermore:

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Victoria’s plan calls for 3,000 accommodation units costing A$701.675 million;

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National’s plan calls for  1,000 to 1,500 units for NZ$200 million. Let’s assume the NZ$200 million is intended for the maximum build number: 1,500.

1,500 is half of Victoria’s 3,000 accommodation units.

Halve the cost of Victoria projected price tag: A$350.68 million.

Converting that sum to NZ dollars, using Westpac’s*  currency converter, A$350.68 million is roughly equivalent to NZ$359 million.

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National’s costings appear to be woefully under-stated – by a factor of one-and-a-half times.

Which is unsurprising. The party of “fiscal responsibility” has a poor track record of costing its policies with any meaningful accuracy:

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Tragically, the true cost of National’s policies will not be measured in dollars.

It will be measured in lives lost to a disease that, while tough to suppress and eradicate, should not be tolerated to rip through our communities.

We cannot afford a National government. Not in money; certainly not in lives.

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* Westpac is the government’s official bank.

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References

National: Opening Up: National’s plan to tackle COVID-19, end lockdowns and reopen to the world (p 27, 28)

TVNZ: National proposes building of purpose-built quarantine facility on Auckland’s outskirts

RNZ: National proposes reopening fully vaccinated businesses in ‘back in business’ plan

Newshub: COVID-19 – National’s ‘home by Christmas’ plan a tantalising prospect for tens of thousands stranded offshore

ABC News: Melbourne COVID-19 quarantine facility approved as Commonwealth, Victoria agree on site

Managed Isolation and Quarantine: Managed Isolation and Quarantine capacity

Stuff media: Covid-19 – Why the Government isn’t using purpose-built quarantine facilities

National Party: Ditch DHB merger, spend funding on medicines instead

Vic.gov.au: Alternative Quarantine Accommodation Hub Project Summary  April 2021 (p 27-29)

Westpac: Currency Converter

Stuff media: Election 2020 – ‘Fair cop’ – National’s Paul Goldsmith admits to accounting mistake as Labour points out $4b hole

Newshub: NZ Election 2020 – Paul Goldsmith calls ‘$4 billion gap’ in National’s fiscal plan ‘irritating mistake’

The Spinoff: The launch that fell down a four-billion-dollar fiscal hole

RNZ: Judith Collins downplays National’s fiscal error, defends Paul Goldsmith

Stuff media: Election 2020 – National’s fiscal hole appears to double to $8 billion as Paul Goldsmith denies double count mistake

RNZ: Explainer – How deep does National’s fiscal hole go?

Previous related blogposts

Judith Collins and National: It’s a trust thing

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Acknowledgement: Rod Emmerson

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The Virus, the Politician, and the gang member

10 October 2021 4 comments

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The claim from NZ First Leader, and former MP, Winston Peters, was stunning: Harry Tam and an unknown woman had breached Auckland’s containment boundaries with falsified documents and headed north.

He told Newshub Nation host, Simon Shepherd on 9 October:

“This person came here with a gang member assigned essential worker status, falsified the reason she was coming.

[She] engaged with people at a hotel in Whangarei… and went to a marae up north which hid her from the public and dare I say it, the police. The police got a warrant to arrest her.

How he got up north, that is very difficult to understand in terms of the permit system, but he brought in, under false premises, this woman with him. The rest, sadly, is catastrophic.

I am absolutely certain of my sources, otherwise I wouldn’t be saying what I’m saying.

Let them deny it, and they won’t. But when the press was told yesterday at 6:30pm by Minister Hipkins that he didn’t, that simply wasn’t true. Frankly, we will never get through this crisis if we aren’t transparent and honest.”

An uncomfortable-looking Simon Shepherd was obviously taken aback by Mr Peters’ alllegations and perhaps he was quickly calculating how far he could go to obtain more details from the former NZ First leader.

This blogger could only guess that the show’s producer may have had their finger hovering over the Big Red Button to cut quickly to an ad break.

The allegations were serious: Mr Peters had accused gang leader, Harry Tam, of a serious crime. He wasn’t presenting his allegations as opinion, they were stated as fact:

How he got up north, that is very difficult to understand in terms of the permit system, but he brought in, under false premises, this woman with him […]

I am absolutely certain of my sources, otherwise I wouldn’t be saying what I’m saying.

Harry Tam denied Mr Peters’ allegation:

“If Winston said it, he needs to prove it… If he’s not going to apologise, we will need to look at legal action. I didn’t bring anyone with me. Where did he get his information from? What is his source?”

As reported by Te Ao Maori News:

Tam told Te Ao Māori News, Peters was off the mark, while he had travelled to Tāmaki under a government exemption to support efforts to get gang members vaccinated, he travelled alone and had never been to Northland since arriving in Auckland.

It would be difficult for someone as well know as Harry Tam to have been moving around Auckland without being spotted by members of the public.

His cellphone would have been picked up by cellphone towers around the region, making his whereabouts ridiculously easy to ascertain.

According to how Police are wording their search for the “other woman”, it is apparent that both travellers are women.

Harry Tam is known to be a male.

There will be fallout for Winston Peters.

His wild claims not only put himself up for being sued – but TV3/Newshub is also in the firing line.

It is eerily similar to various pro-Trump conspiracy theorists who have been sued by companies for alleging that their voting machines were “rigged” in favour of  Joe Biden:

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If it is correct that Mr Peters obtained his “information” from Facebook or via a conspiratorial email currently being circulated, he may be in for a shock. Such sources usually do not carry much weight in a Court of law:

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This may well have been Mr Peters last appearance on any mainstream media – at least for a live interview. No media outlet will want to risk a lawsuit because of his unpredictability with extravagant, potentially defamatory, claims.

It’s a tough day at the office when a politician’s credibility falls below that of a gang member.

I hope the 24 hours news-cycle notoriety was worth it, Mr Peters?

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References

Newshub Nation: Gang leader Harry Tam denies Winston Peters’ claims he helped infected woman breach COVID boundary, sparking Northland lockdown

Te Ao News: ‘Apologise!’ Mob leader slams Peters’ Covid, Northland allegations

Stuff media: Covid-19 – Search for contact of Northland case ‘extraordinarily frustrating’

CNBC: Judge grills lawyers for Fox News, Powell, Giuliani about election fraud claims in $2.7 billion Smartmatic defamation suit

USA Today: Fact check – False claim that Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell prevailed in Dominion lawsuits

Forbes: After Lawsuits Against Newsmax And OANN, Here’s Who Dominion Has Sued So Far—And Who Could Be Next

Vox: Sidney Powell gives up the game, admits Trump’s election conspiracies weren’t factual

Forbes: Trump Campaign Knew Dominion Fraud Claims Were False, Memo Reportedly Shows—But Giuliani Still Pushed Them

Business Insider Australia: Rudy Guiliani admits under oath that he got some of his ‘evidence’ of alleged election fraud from Facebook

Other Blogs

Kiwiblog: Winston vs Harry

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Acknowledgement: Guy Body

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Open letter to Michael Barnett, Julie White, et al

8 October 2021 1 comment

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Congratulations,  Mr Barnett, Ms White, and your business colleagues. It appears that we will end up having to “live” (ie, get sick, end up in hospital, perhaps in ICU, intubated on ventilators, and possibly dying as our lungs fail) with covid19.

But at least businesses will open up. Business will finally have *CERTAINTY*.

The Delta Strain on covid19 will run rampant. It is so highly infectious that it appears nigh on impossible to eradicate,  contain, or avoid. Especially as so many people refuse to take simple precautions; wearing masks, staying home if unwell, or getting vaccinated.

Our hospitals will quickly fill up with covid cases. It has happened overseas, I see no reason why we should be exempt in Aotearoa New Zealand.

So if you present at your local hospital with a broken limb, some other infection, heart attack, stroke, etc, well, be prepared to stand – or rather lie down – in line. Don’t expect treatment any time soon. Our fabulous nurses and doctors, the ones not yet worked to exhaustion and burned out, will get to you. Eventually. Maybe five or six hours? Or next morning?

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You know what else you can have 100% certainty about? The mainstream  media will report story after story after story of hospitals near collapse and grieving families. The click-bating headlines, radio and TV interviews, will be an hourly, daily, weekly event. Wait till the first toddler dies from covid – can you see the headlines? I can. That’s a certainty you can take to the bank.

If you thought media milked ‘heart string’ stories of New Zealanders trapped overseas – desperate for limited MIQ slots – you ain’t see nothing yet. You can be very, very certain of how media will feast – gorge themselves – on tragedies to come.

In turn, those relentless stories will feed public fear.

The media – your “unwitting allies” to push your agenda – will turn on you.

But at least restaurants, cafes, bars, theatres, conventions, etc, etc, etc, etc, can all open up.

Yes, you have certainty in that.

But you know what else you can be certain of?

A whole bunch of workers who will get sick. Expect your businesses to lose staff to many more sick days off. After last year’s lockdown, influenza and other viral diseases fell so low we’ve probably never been healthier.

That will change. And it will cost your businesses dearly.

As sure as evolution made li’l green apples, you can have certainty of that.

Oh, and you know what else will probably happen? A terrified population. Even vaccinated people like me will be even more constantly hyper-vigilant; more wary of crowded spaces, less willing to take risks.

So once covid reaches Wellington, no more restaurants, cafes, bars, theatres, conventions, etc, etc, etc, etc, for me or my partner. Though we’re both double vaccinated, we both still have underlying  conditions.

And I work in the wider health sector with vulnerable clients. Two of whom would not survive covid. It would be their death sentence. So no going out for me, even if I wanted to. (Which I won’t.)

But I digress.

So once covid reaches Wellington, it’ll be more quiet nights in. Perhaps a few contactless takeaways. Thank the gods for online entertainment; streaming means no more going out to movies.

And thank goodness for online shopping. Christmas prezzy shopping will be done from the safety of my computer screen. Hello, Amazon!

There may be many, many more people like us. The aging, propertied, cashed-up, baby-boomer generation  – the demographic your businesses rely on so much – may well share our reluctance to sally forth out on the town.

You can have certainty there.

So your businesses will be open. But maybe a little  – or lot! – less crowded.

So enjoy your open businesses.  Enjoy your certainty. You got what you wanted.

How does it feel?

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References

Reuters: Some U.S. hospitals forced to ration care amid staffing shortages, COVID-19 surge

NPR: A COVID Surge Is Overwhelming U.S. Hospitals, Raising Fears Of Rationed Care

Vox: Americans are dying because no hospital will take them

New York Times: Idaho allows overwhelmed hospitals across the state to ration care if necessary.

Forbes: In Idaho And Other States, The Delta Covid-19 Surge Is Forcing Hospitals To Ration ICU Beds

CNN: As Covid-19 hospitalizations spike, some overwhelmed hospitals are rationing care

Previous related blogposts

One thousand dead New Zealanders per year?

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Acknowledment: Anthony Ellison

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The Virus, the Bubble, and the Trap

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In case people missed it, National’s de- facto 2023 election campaign was launched on 15 March this year.

The campaign – in the form of a petition to open a Trans Tasman bubble without need for MIQ – was uploaded onto National’s twitter account, and twentyfive minutes later onto Caretaker Leader, Judith Collin’s account:

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Pressure mounted from the business community. The usual vocal business, tourism, and hospitality industry lobbyists made their voices heard loud and repetitively to the point of being cliched “broken records”:

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Even state-owned, non-commercial RNZ was prodigious in platforming the clamour from business interests.

Voices calling for caution were few and far between. Apparently, calls for caution were not nearly as news-worthy and exciting as the prospect of re-opening our borders to our nearest neighbour after nearly a year cut off from the rest of the world.

One voice of caution came from Stuff Media’s travel journalist, Brooke Sabin. In October 2020, Mr Sabin posed five critical questions pertaining to any proposed travel bubble. One such question asked:

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One of the key questions around a travel bubble with Australia is what happens if a community case pops up? For example, if we have flights to Adelaide and a single mystery case popped up there, would flights to and from New Zealand be cancelled? If not, would we adopt Australia’s hotspot definition and stop travel if there were more than three cases for three days in a row? The New Zealand public may find that hard to stomach, but that’s why debate is needed now, before the election, to try and settle on a risk we’re happy with.

Travellers, airlines, insurers and the tourism industry need this certainty. We could see cases pop up once a bubble is underway, and nobody quite knows at what point travel would continue, or if tens of thousands would have travel plans disrupted by widespread cancellations.

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Events nine months later were to answer his questions, with grim, dramatic effect.

Ironically, Brook Sabin’s article was picked up and republished by a merchant banker, Fifo Capital. The financiers at Fifo obviously recognised the inherent danger posed to the Aotearoa New Zealand’s economy should covid19 – especially the highly infectious Delta Strain –  break through our borders. It was a pity other businesses did not share Fifo’s wise caution.

The strident calls to open a Trans Tasman bubble succeeded.

On 6 April this year, PM Ardern announced that “quarantine-free travel between New Zealand and Australia will start on Monday 19 April“.

However, she also issued a clear, stark warning:

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“Quarantine free travel will not be what it was pre-COVID-19, and those undertaking travel will do so under the guidance of ‘flyer beware’. People will need to plan for the possibility of having travel disrupted if there is an outbreak.”

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It was a warning that many either did not heed or understand.

University of Auckland epidemiology professor, Rod Jackson, who recently appeared on Newshub Nation (2 October), and who has a reputation for clear, unvarnished, truth stated with crystal clarity:

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“I’ve seen some things in the newspaper and the media about people complaining they are not being helped by the New Zealand government when they’re stuck in Australia and can’t come back.

I think that they need to suck it up, that anyone who wants to go to Australia needs to be aware that at a moment’s notice they could end up being there for weeks, if not months.”

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Again, people took no notice.

Eighteen days late, on 23 July, PM Ardern announced the closure of the Trans Tasman bubble. The Delta Strain was spreading through Australia and the risk that a traveller could bring it back to this country – as happened in June this year – could no longer be ignored.

PM Ardern pleaded with New Zealanders:

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“There is considerable pressure on our managed isolation facilities at the moment and my strong urging to everyone is do not travel to Australia in the next eight weeks.”

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Returnees were put in two weeks isolation upon return to Aotearoa New Zealand, putting a strain on availability of MIQ rooms. New Zalanders were now not only trapped throughout the world, trying to get home, but thousands were now also trapped throughout Australia.

Returnees demanded access to MIQ rooms. There were insufficient rooms. Calls became strident. The media shamelessly gorged itself on amplified stories of misery, stress, and hardship. There were emotive headlines and interviews. There were clicks to be gained; advertising to sell; and careers to build.

A few in the media bucked the stampede to exploit this human crisis. Writing in his column, Q+A presenter, Jack Tame, pointed out the blindingly obvious:

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“Remember – this is the way the bubble was designed to function. From the word go, there was risk for anyone who decided to go to Australia. You bought a ticket. You chose to travel. You assumed that risk. I actually think the people who’ve come back from New South Wales and into MIQ should consider themselves very lucky they haven’t had to pay for the privilege when everyone else does.”

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The truth is that business and political agitation for a trans tasman bubble generated considerable media stories. Once the bubble collapsed and New Zealanders were trapped overseas, there were yet more “human interest” stories to be made. The more tragic the story, the better the headline.

24 hours a day, seven days a week, the media feasted.

Critics of the Labour government; political opportunists; those dissatisfied with travel restrictions; and detractors of the MIQ system were quick to weaponise “human interest”, “heart-string” stories for their own ends. Where reasoned argument fell short against our covid19 and MIQ policies, emotive invective took over. That weaponisation of PM Ardern’s plea to Be Kind was turned back against the government and those who understood the danger which covid19 posed to us collectively.

And then, finally, our luck well and truly ran out.

On 17 August – four months after the Trans Tasman bubble had opened – a community case of the Delta Strain was detected in one person, in Auckland. The PM wasted no time, and the entire country was thrown into Level 4 Alert lockdown at 11.59PM that very night.

Since then, Delta has infected 1,420 people. Two have tragically died (as at 6 October 2021).

The response from National, amplified by the media, has been scathing:

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Voxy: ‘Short and sharp’ lockdown will be the longest ever - Judith Collins, Chris Bishop   http://www.voxy.co.nz/politics/5/392524   National:  Time has run out on Government’s incoherent Covid strategy  https://www.national.org.nz/time-has-run-out-on-governments-incoherent-covid-strategy    Newshub: Sparks fly in Parliament as Jacinda Ardern, Chris Hipkins deny pace of COVID-19 vaccine rollout meant inevitable lockdown  https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2021/09/sparks-fly-in-parliament-as-jacinda-ardern-chris-hipkins-deny-pace-of-covid-19-vaccine-rollout-meant-inevitable-lockdown.html   National: Government has choices and needs to make them now  https://www.national.org.nz/government-has-choices-and-needs-to-make-them-now    National: New Zealand at Covid crossroads  https://www.national.org.nz/new-zealand-at-covid-crossroads   National: What is the Government’s Covid strategy?  https://www.national.org.nz/what-is-the-governments-covid-strategy    Newshub: Coronavirus: Judith Collins says 'no point worrying' about source of COVID-19 outbreak, Ardern should 'deal with it' or accept she can't change it  https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2021/09/coronavirus-judith-collins-says-no-point-worrying-about-source-of-covid-19-outbreak-ardern-should-deal-with-it-or-accept-she-can-t-change-it.html        National: No mention of Delta strain in Government plans  https://www.national.org.nz/no-mention-of-delta-strain-in-government-plans    National: South Island should drop now to alert level 2    https://www.national.org.nz/south-island-should-drop-now-to-alert-level-2    National: Labour has dropped the MIQ ball  https://www.national.org.nz/labour-has-dropped-the-miq-ball   Stuff media: Covid-19 NZ - Judith Collins says level 4 should be all but ruled out, Government lacks mandate to lock people down  https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/300412630/covid19-nz-judith-collins-says-level-4-should-be-all-but-ruled-out-government-lacks-mandate-to-lock-people-down     National: No mention of Delta strain in Government plans  https://www.national.org.nz/no-mention-of-delta-strain-in-government-plans       National: Labour recklessly delayed vaccine shipments  https://www.national.org.nz/labour-recklessly-delayed-vaccine-shipments    RNZ: New level 2 rules a 'bitter pill to swallow' for South Island, Collins says  https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/450975/new-level-2-rules-a-bitter-pill-to-swallow-for-south-island-collins-says    National: Minister won’t say how much more taxpayers will be up for  https://www.national.org.nz/minister-wont-say-how-much-more-taxpayers-will-be-up-for

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Every morning, afternoon, and throughout the evening, from Monday to Sunday, National and their fellow-travellers from business and right-wing media  excoriated the government for the current outbreak. The relentless headlines – of which only a small sample is presented above – does not even  include radio, television interviews and social media propaganda.

Demands for a Trans Tasman bubble was a carefully laid trap from National.

If the bubble  was successful, Chris Bishop and National’s current (?) Leader, could loudly proclaim success and claim credit for loosening restrictions and ‘liberating’ New Zealanders from our isolation. It would be a valuable, vote-grabbing ‘coup’ to take to the 2023 general election.

“See? This is what a competent government looks like! This is what a National does! Vote for us!”

If the bubble failed, Chris Bishop and National’s current (?) Leader, could blast the government for incompetence and every other ‘misdemeanour’ imaginable.

“See? This is what an incompetent government looks like! This is what Labour does! Vote for us!”

Truly, it was a win/win, no-lose, cunning gambit.

The Government fell for the trap. Delta got loose. Country forced into lockdown. Delta all but impossible to contain.

Checkmate.

If there is a lesson for Labour, it is this: As Opposition, National can demand whatever it can dream up. But as Opposition, it has zero accountability for consequences when things go horribly wrong.

Never listen to National. They are the the party of responsibility, except when National has no responsibility.

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References

National Party: Open the Trans Tasman Bubble Now (archived)

Twitter: National Party – Sign the Trans Tasman bubble petition

Twitter: Judith Collins – Sign the Trans Tasman bubble petition

RNZ: Tourism New Zealand forecasting billion-dollar economy boost if trans-Tasman bubble opens

Stuff media: Crack open the border, mate – Waikato tourist towns’ plea for trans-Tasman bubble

Stuff media: Tourism disappointed over delay in trans-Tasman bubble date

Newshub: Coronavirus: – Pressure mounting on Government to open trans-Tasman bubble soon to save tourism businesses

RNZ: Business community wants quick decision on trans-Tasman bubble

Newshub: COVID-19 – Concerns some small tourist towns will be gone before trans-Tasman bubble opens

Stuff media: Government pushed to act on trans-Tasman travel bubble

Stuff media: Covid-19  Five big problems with the proposed trans-Tasman travel bubble

Fifo Capital:

Beehive.govt.nz: Trans-Tasman bubble to start 19 April

Newshub: Coronavirus – Expert’s blunt message to the Govt as it ponders level 2 for Auckland – ‘How brutal do you want to go?’

Stuff media: Trans-Tasman travel: Prepare to be stuck ‘for weeks’ if you travel under re-opened bubble, expert says

RNZ: NZ government suspends quarantine-free travel with Australia for at least eight weeks

RNZ:  Australian traveller who visited Wellington has Delta variant

Stuff media: Covid-19 – A timeline of the Delta outbreak

Ministry of Health: 39 community cases of COVID-19; two border cases; more than 63,000 vaccines doses administered yesterday

Voxy: ‘Short and sharp’ lockdown will be the longest ever – Judith Collins, Chris Bishop

National: Time has run out on Government’s incoherent Covid strategy

Newshub: Sparks fly in Parliament as Jacinda Ardern, Chris Hipkins deny pace of COVID-19 vaccine rollout meant inevitable lockdown

National: Government has choices and needs to make them now

National: New Zealand at Covid crossroads

National: What is the Government’s Covid strategy?

Newshub: Coronavirus – Judith Collins says ‘no point worrying’ about source of COVID-19 outbreak, Ardern should ‘deal with it’ or accept she can’t change it

National: No mention of Delta strain in Government plans

National: South Island should drop now to alert level 2

National: Labour has dropped the MIQ ball

Stuff media: Covid-19 NZ – Judith Collins says level 4 should be all but ruled out, Government lacks mandate to lock people down

National: Labour recklessly delayed vaccine shipments

RNZ: New level 2 rules a ‘bitter pill to swallow’ for South Island, Collins says

National: Minister won’t say how much more taxpayers will be up for

Additional

The Spinoff: New Zealand urgently needs a serious opposition leader

Al Jazeera: New Zealand grapples with Delta – and Tucker Carlson

Reference sources

MIQ: History and origins of MIQ

Covid19: History of the COVID-19 Alert System

MBIE: Managed isolation and quarantine data

RNZ: Timeline – The year of Covid-19 in New Zealand

Stuff media: Covid-19 – A timeline of the Delta outbreak

Other Blogs

The Knightly Views: Media lessons from a pandemic

The Standard: Smug hermit king

Previous related blogposts

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 15 (@L3)

The Microbiologist, the Caretaker Leader, and some Nasty Germs

One thousand dead New Zealanders per year?

The Virus, the Media, and John Key

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Acknowledgement: Rod Emmerson (15-21 March 2021)

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The Virus, the Media, and John Key

3 October 2021 4 comments

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Acknowledgement: @komerata

 

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“People are crying on TV and on radio stations, every single day, because they are stateless, they cannot come back to New Zealand.”  – John Key, ex-Prime Minister, “Morning Report”, RNZ 

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The crocodile tears flew – albeit briefly – on RNZ’s “Morning Report” on 27 September, by ex-Prime Minister ex-Merril Lynch ‘banker’, and still-practicing smiling assassin, John Key.

The interview with Corin Dann showed a side of Key not often seen by the Great Unwashed Masses; condescending; quick to anger; and irritable at being questioned. His defensiveness was over the publication of his op-ed in no less than four major daily newspapers was either fortuitously achieved – or with great precision-planning and with the witting or unwitting collusion of the media involved.

This screen-cap from The Spin-Off (with associated excellent satirical piece, lampooning Key’s dangerous ‘reckons’) showed the four dailies involved in the synchronised, targetted release of the agit-prop article he purportedly wrote:

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The lampooning of Mr Key’s reckons – by Spinoff editor Toby Manhire – is pure cutting satire and the only possible way to deal with the ill-informed pronouncements of a man who was, at best, a mediocre prime minister and achieved nothing except a failed flag referendum; tax cuts for the rich; and a novel – if utterly barmy – idea of a sheep farm in the middle of the Saudi desert. (Who knew sheep preferred to eat grass, instead of sand?)

My ex-journo friend wondered:

“I see Key is also sounding off in the Sunday Herald as well. His business mates are likely channeling through him rather than coming out and saying anything directly so as to protect themselves from public backlash.”

Unfortunately,Mr Key’s (?) op-ed was not the first to be platformed in the mainstream media.

As has been pointed out by many on social media – and by my ex-journalist friend – it is almost as if the public are being “softened up”.

But softened-up for what?

The mainstream media has – and currently still is – flooding their platforms with “Open Up” (current version of Plan Bers) demands from business lobbyists, sports people, and a bunch of Kiwis who have the crazy notion that travelling overseas during a raging pandemic – or bringing in a flood of tourists and migrant workers – is a jolly good idea.

It’s like a small – but increasing vociferous number – have not been paying attention to New South Wales, Fiji, Brazil, United States, United Kingdom, and practically almost everywhere else on this planet. And every time platformed and amplified almost wholly uncritically by every media outlet in the country.

Including, bizarrely, state-owned, non-commercial, Radio NZ. (The profit motive may not apply to RNZ’s corporate structure, but personal career advancement might play a role.)

Only Stuff media has published an op-ed questioning this current, relentless push to live (ie, die) with covid:

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Yes, Dominion Post editor, Anna Fifield, has called it: Aotearoa New Zealand is not North Korea. Not even close. In fact, contrary to our geographically-confused American cuzzies’ belief, we are not Australia either.

North Korea. Australia. Aotearoa New Zealand. Three different countries.

You can tell they are different: we make a better Flat White and our rugby team is the best of all three. (Does North Korea even play rugby? Ask John Key: he seems up with communist dictatorships.)

Unfortunately, for Ms Fifield, there was a very brief comment in her 27 September editorial,  where she admits:

And we in the Wellington newsroom of Stuff have been actively reporting about the impact of our system on businesses, including the tech sector, and the long-term economic ramifications of it.

Not only is she correct, but every other mainstream media (msm) in the country has been fulsome in  “actively reporting the impact of our system on businesses“. Reporting every day. On every TV news and current affairs broadcast. On every radio station, including non-commercial RNZ. In every newspaper and probably most magazines.

Relentlessly.

Often repetitively – in case we missed it the first time:

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23 September, 5.20PM

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23 September, 7.30PM

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28 September

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Interesting how categories of the three, related stories above went from “Health/Politics” to “Business/Covid19“. When did Covid19 cease to be a Health issue for RNZ?

In fact, unless you stopped reading; scrolling, listening, and watching, the entire nationwide msm spectrum – you’d be hard-pressed not to be informed of “the impact of our system on businesses“.

To describe the msm as business-friendly propaganda would be apt, probably even under-stated.

Only communist nations have broadcast “positive” aspects of their economic system as constantly; widely; repetitively, and incessantly. (Yes, Ms Fifield, I have lived under a communist system. For about eleven months, in the late 1970s) in my parents homeland, the Hungarian People’s Republic, governed by the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party.)

The only way to avoid the incessant bombardment of negativity; whining; hysterical pleas to “open up”; never-ending stream of stressed businesspeople; onslaught of ‘heart-string’ stories of New Zealanders trapped overseas (often after voluntarily travelling overseas since March last year) –  is to avoid the msm altogether.

This blogger switched off all electronic media for three days during last year’s Level 4 lockdown.

This year, the off-switch was flicked for RNZ’s “Checkpoint“, which had seemingly perfected whinging and negativity to a fine art. This blogger ceased listening for about a week and a half, until Aotearoa New Zealand (minus Auckland) dropped to Level 2.

And what was the first story on “Checkpoint” on 8 September, the first full day of Level 2?

Guess…

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business whinging whining carping complaining

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Yup.  They just couldn’t help themselves, could they? The very first story: a business whinge.

I switched of.

If RNZ has become a subsidiary of the National Business Review, we certainly missed that memo.

Following John Key’s first salvo of op-eds, he was followed by Richard Prebble, Paul Henry, and Steven Joyce (on tediously numerous occassions). All three thankfully paywalled. The term male, pale, and stale has never felt more appropriately descriptive.

Mr Joyce’s reference to the current “Jacinda Ardern Government getting too big for its bossy boots” was a bit rich, considering his decidely authoritarian-flavoured comment to tertiary students almost exactly decade ago:

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Minister to students: ‘keep your heads down’

NZ Herald – 27 Sep, 2011 11:39 AM – By Claire Trevett

Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce has warned protesting university students to keep their heads down lest they draw attention to their relatively privileged position in hard economic times.

Asked about the student protests at Auckland University yesterday, Mr Joyce said university students had 75 per cent of the tuition subsidised on average and benefited from interest-free student loans.

“My general advice to NZUSA (NZ Union of Students’ Associations) on the cost of living for students is to keep your heads down because actually most people probably think you’re doing OK.”

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The steady stream of debilitating, depressing media negativity has not gone unnoticed by many fellow New Zealanders (including my own partner and other close friends and work colleagues – most of whom are sick of it all). Social media is full of people expressing their weariness of msm negativity:

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I’m in MIQ and yes it has its flaws & shortcomings, being away from family I desperately want to see but I’m prepared to do to keep Delta out. WTF are we doing listening to JFK when he just wants to be able to flit to Hawaii and back on a whim? F**k him and his self-centredness. – 1:19 PM · Aug 12, 2021

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Kia ora @1NewsNZ, @TVNZ, no matter the decision today, please, please, please can we not hear from the moaners & whingers. It’s the moaning that is getting to many of us here in L4 & it will greatly improve our outlook if we weren’t subjected to more. Kia ora mo o taringa. – 12:23 PM · Sep 20, 2021

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100% We’re doing the mahi and the constant moaning and complaining is not representative of most of us. It’s so hard to deal with. We need positivity – 2:52 PM · Sep 20, 2021

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Individual journalists may not realise the cumulative effect their negativity has. Yes govt should be held to account but that can be done w/o centring ignorance without pushback and exaggerating errors. Social license to lock down is only thing stopping us from turning into NSW. – 7:02 AM · Aug 30, 2021

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Although my business is closed until we hit L2 I realise it’s the right thing to do to be in lockdown. I wonder if the media will ever go for comment from small business owners that accept that this is the way forward because we understand what that means for the economy? –  9:07 AM · Aug 26, 2021

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Are the media being responsible during our outbreak, or are they nitpicking, delving into the sewers, which includes foreign media, to make us all fearful and anxious? Some words do matter, be careful how you use them.8:51 AM · Aug 26, 2021

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It’s interesting that at no stage has any official said we stop elimination strategy now. But all the media are softening the public up to do just that. And more and more antivax coming up with extreme right “learn to live with it” bollocks. Manipulation is occurring why? – 8:37 AM · Sep 26, 2021

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Seeing journos moaning about the slating they are getting. Either be a tabloid hack and ignore the criticism, or do a better job, don’t write such rubbish then bitch when people don’t like it. – 12:52 PM · Sep 24, 2021

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Because the media live on playing games for profit. Now stakes involve human lives – they’ve never felt a more thrilling empowerment. – 7:25 PM · Sep 26, 2021

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I don’t get it honestly. I tend to back away from news sources now, I just cant even – 5:27 PM · Sep 26, 2021

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Because national disasters sell newspapers. – 8:49 PM · Sep 26, 2021

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Fair minded KIwis are sick to death with the barrage of MIQ and stranded traveller sob stories Kiwis have had opportinities over 500 days to get back to NZ . Those that went to Australia were pre-warned by PM Ardern flyer beware and get back on red flights or risk being stranded8:43 AM · Sep 16, 2021

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Totally sick of hearing about vaccine logistics stuff. We’ve just had a massive demand spike of a perishable product with very precise transport demands. Hell, the timber industry couldn’t even get its shit together with a few years notice, & we grow the bloody wood – 1:22 PM · Sep 7, 2021

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Agreed it seems like the media want to highlight every small thing that goes wrong in MIQ..it’s poor form given more than 170k kiwis have returned and they highlight the less than 5% that have had issues..  – 9:37 AM · Sep 16, 2021

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I agree. I would love to go & see my Dad in Scotland as he’s just had major heart surgery @ 84 but I decided early 2020 I would not be leaving NZ for anything ~ not to spread it around the globe, not to bring it back but most of all to survive. – 10:13 AM · Sep 16, 2021

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This genius departed for the USA to work in a summer camp on 13 June, and now can’t get a spot in MIQ, seriously? https://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/travel-troubles/300408053/american-dream-turns-into-nightmare-for-new-zealander-desperate-to-return-home9:57 AM · Sep 16, 2021

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News junkie son in Melbourne tells me he has switched off all news. Professional comms daughter in Sydney has switched off all her private social media. I have turned off RNZ. Personal wellbeing decisions in stressful times. – 9:35 AM · Aug 31, 2021

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Moaning Report  – 9:57 AM · Aug 31, 2021

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NZ media has had more of an effect on my mental health than lockdown itself. I’m just finding myself being bombarded with right wing hatred towards our current government. I am always a supporter of valid criticism but this has gone past the line of criticism. – 10:09 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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Very sad that NZ media is incapable of taking the pulse of the nation. – 8:13 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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It’s kind of a very New Zealand thing that the media are telling us we are “totally feed up”, and completely “over it” yet we are just stoically getting on with doing what we need to as a whole. – 6:29 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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I just can’t stand feeling ok, getting on with it, making the best of it, only to feel dragged down by the weight of the negativity on the 6pm news. We all know people are struggling. But just framing some things in a positive light would be nice – 6:38 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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There’s no money in stories about Kiwis just getting on with it…  Which is kind of sad… – 6:37 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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I deleted the Stuff app from my phone over this. (deleted NZ Herald a year ago) – 10:55 AM · Aug 30, 2021

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Yep, for the first time in my life I’ve stopped checking in on media sites – their clickbaity, dramatised headlines are all too often misleading and unnecessarily distressing. I figure if anything important happens, I’ll hear about it pretty quickly here, and with some nuance. – 8:37 AM · Aug 30, 2021

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Yep, feeling pretty much the same way. The constant negativity and political twattery all for the sake of scoring points is exhausting. I know that they don’t talk for the majority but their voices are so much louder than everyone else’s… – 1:33 PM · Aug 30, 2021

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My feelings exactly. I’m exhausted by the media negativity. – 7:42 AM · Aug 30, 2021

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So agree. The only thing that gets me angry is the platforming of RW, business viewpoints that just see workers as grist for their mills. – 10:59 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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Delete any app that bring news. Mute those outlets’ accounts. I did, and it helps. – 11:29 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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The equivalent of “some people say” and/or using their opinion writers as speaking for the nation while the nation is saying “who writes this shit”? – 9:37 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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to be fair to the media I think there’s a fair amount of them (outside of Granny, obvi) who do support the strategy, they just want more accountability and more preplanning, which is hard to argue against. The vaccine catastrophizing is utterly ridiculous though, lol. – 6:40 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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Totally agree, it is really depressing being bombarded every day by sniping & negativity. Do they know that this is the effect they are having? – 8:51 AM · Aug 30, 2021

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Remember by their own fruition the majority of NZ’s mainstream media are HQed in Auckland.
They gutted regional newsrooms & shut down external studios to base everything there.
Now the chickens have come home to roost & Auckland gets a month-longer lockdown than everyone else! –
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Couldn’t agree more! I’m not fed up at all…except with the crappy media!  Kiwis have got this! Around 85% thought we were right to lock down and since there is light at the end of the tunnel, why stop now!? – 11:27 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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It’s such a crack up when they have a story with a mayor or a business leader going on about how unhappy everyone is and then they cut to interviews in the street and the people they speak to are overwhelmingly for what we are doing. – 6:41 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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Actually I am over it, I’m over the media telling me what I feel despite it not being anywhere near what I infact feel – 8:36 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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Well, we are totally fed up….. with the media that is. I’m definitely over people with no health qualifications pontificating about how we ‘just need to live with it’ – 7:51 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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The media need to take along hard look at themselves. I am totally fed up with opinion posing as journalism, reckons as facts, completely over it.  – 10:13 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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The thing is “NZ media” as it relates to Covid is the press gallery, whose world revolves around listening to stand ups and having to interview the opposition for their daily shit takes. It’s no wonder their summation is “Kiwis are over it.” I would be too in their shoes. – 10:21 AM · Aug 30, 2021

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I’m so sick of the NZ journalists, fucking depressing bunch and all they want to do is bitch and moan. Meanwhile, the rest of us just get on with it – 7:02 PM · Aug 29, 2021

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Apologies for the long list of comments. Believe me, there were way, way more. The above is only a small, random sampling of comments gleaned from Twitter.

More important from the comments on this issue came from Chloe Ann-King, a spokesperson for hospitality workers and founder of Raise the Bar Hospo Union (RBHU), this salient criticism of the media:

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So not only have media relentlessly amplified business voices – almost always complaining, criticising, and demanding – but inevitably no workers are ever (?) interviewed for their takes.

On 29 August this year, Stuff’s political reporter, Andrea Vance, published an overtly defensive “opinion” piece, dismissing criticism of media coverage of the covid crisis.

In it she opined that scrutiny of the government was an essential role of the media:

“Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has given a spirited defence of her Government’s decisions. She’s more than up to handling the criticism.

Of course, she must exude confidence in the strategy and maintain consistent and clear messaging. But it’s troubling when she says she doesn’t want a debate.

And that makes it even more crucial to have robust scrutiny from outside her inner circle.

Because if they are the right decisions, then they remain the right decisions. Questions and alternative viewpoints won’t change that, and we can be more confident we’re on the right course.

We shouldn’t run from transparent and open debate – scrutiny can only improve the decision-making.”

Few would disagree with that statement.

In fact, it was media scrutiny that revealed severe short-coming in MIQ facilities with security; lack of appropriate PPE gear, and behaviours of some staff which was less than ideal.

This blogger, and most people have no problem with media ensuring that MIQ, vaccinations, and lockdowns are appropriately handled.

We are mature people (generally, with minor exceptions) . We can take information that may be difficult to digest. We want bad news given to us unvarnished, with options for answers.

That is why, as Ms Vance writes – though in a vaguely dismissive way – that we value our scientists and medical personnel with such high regard:

It’s fantastic that the tight circle of academic experts advising the Government make themselves readily available to explain the modelling and the science.

In the pandemic, medical experts (the virologists, epidemiologists, statisticians and modellers) have become our modern-day talisman. It’s a refreshing change from the tendency to devalue expertise seen in recent years.

Physicist and covid-modeller, Shaun Hendy’s participation in the Government’s daily 1PM ‘presser’ on 23 September and Epidemioloist, Rod Jackson appearing on TV3’s Newshub Nation, on 2 October, did not ‘sugar coat’ what we were facing. They were blunt and honest with the facts and possible consequences.

Few people objected and those that did, in one instance, appears to have had a bad case of bruised-egoitis.

But what she and her colleagues fail to utterly comprehend is that it’s not scrutiny of the government that has provoked a torrent of criticism against the media itself.

Criticism – as comments above clearly show – revolve around non-stop, negative stories from business interests; New Zealanders stuck overseas (a number of whom are the authors of their own predicament); naked political opportunism; and giving voice to practically anyone with dissatisfaction. It is repetitive; lacking any real purpose (except click-generating headlines); and – I  submit – psychologically detrimental.

Individual journalists and media outlets seem to think that they don’t produce much in the way of negative stories. Perhaps one or two a day? But add all the media outlets together, many with different aspects of an individual organisation (eg; RNZ’s ‘Morning Report‘, ‘Mid Day Report‘, ‘Checkpoint‘, ‘Lately‘); each churning out their own ‘doom n gloom’ stories – and it mounts up very quickly.

Ms Vance and her colleagues are wholly responsible for the material they put out. The public has little in-put into decision-making. The things they write; the stories they publish or broadcast, have content that inevitably has an effect. (Why else preface some stories with warnings of “Content may be disturbing – viewer/reader discretion advised”?)

A constant diet of bad news stories cannot be mentally healthy. Especially to a nation already stressed with hyper-vigilance as covid bangs on our rampart walls. When five million people have experienced massive disruption to their lives with outbreaks; closures of schools and businesses; lockdowns; and advised to stay home – these are all pressures we have to face.

Most do not complain. We do what we must to save lives. We have seen the misery covid19 has caused overseas, bringing even the most powerful nations to the brink of disaster. So we have seen the lessons from overseas and the consequences of failure is not lost on us.

It is already tough-going for many and stressful. Adding the burden of negativity is not only unhelpful, it adds further despondency. It is a slow chipping away of our resolve.

So when we do speak up, it would do the media industry well to listen. After all, are media folk not part of our community?

The whole point of journalism and the media machine is to engage and inform the public (as well as sell toothpaste, pet-food, etc). The moment the public stop listening, reading, because of an onslaught of highly-emotive stories is the point they stop engaging.

When people switch off and refuse to engage any further, journalism has failed us.

The media are not above scrutiny or criticism. Just as politicians are open to scrutiny and criticism. Consider the criticisms – maybe, just maybe, critics have a point?

Think, before you publish yet another carping from Michael Barnett, or a traveller who is stuck in Sydney after the Trans Tasman bubble was closed. Is it really “news”?  What will it achieve? Will it inform us? Or is the headline simply geared to attract eyeballs and clicks and bugger the effects it might have on already-stressed people?

If it’s not ‘new’ then maybe it’s not news.

Postscript

Lest this blogger be another cog in the Great Negativity Machine, I point to today’s (3 October) episode of TV One’s Q+A episode.

The show presented critical problems affecting the nation’s vaccination programme.  There was vox populi and community workers interviewed. Solutions were suggested and discussed. 

No emotion-bombing; no ‘heart string’ stories. No whining from entitled sector lobbyists or ill-informed ‘reckons’.

The viewer was encouraged to engage, listen, and think on what was presented.

The same with the follow-up interview with Air New Zealand CEO, Greg Foran. No whining, no demands, no sense of entitlement; just a basic Kiwi attitude of dealing with the cards that have been dealt, and getting on with it*.

At one point, Q+A host Jack Tame asked Mr Foran’s opinion on government’s elimination strategy;

“Do you think the elimination strategy is sustainable?”

The CEO’s reply?

“Look, Jack, that’s something that probably the scientists and the government need to answer…”

It felt as if we were in a room listening to mature adults.

More of this style of responsible media, please.

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(* Note: Admittedly, Air New Zealand has a billion dollar ‘life line’ with the government. But their potential liabilities can also be measured in the billion-dollar range. That ‘life-line’ can become shortened very quickly; airlines can gobble up hundreds of millions of dollars almost as fast as their jets can fly.)

 

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References      

RNZ: Covid-19 – Young people need some rights taken away to encourage vaccination – Sir John Key (alt.link)

The Spinoff: Ranked – All of today’s op-ed columns by Sir John Key

Stuff media: Anna Fifield – No, Sir John Key, New Zealand is not like North Korea

Newshub: Auckland business leader Michael Barnett wants Government to listen closely to smaller businesses about improving COVID-19 support schemes

NZ Herald: Covid-19 Delta outbreak – Retirees stuck in Australia fear being stripped of pensions

RNZ: ‘We need clarity’ for Covid-19 test to cross Auckland border – business owner

RNZ: Orion Health CEO urges revamp of MIQ to allow business travel

RNZ: Business pushing for self-managed isolation for overseas work travel

RNZ: Businesses on home isolation trial – ‘This has been a long time coming’

NZ Herald: Covid Delta outbreak – Richard Prebble – Muldoonism looms large – and that’s a problem

NZ Herald: Paul Henry – I love this country – but I’m not sure I have the heartbeats for it any more

NZ Herald: Steven Joyce – Jacinda Ardern Government getting too big for its bossy boots

NZ Herald: Minister to students – ‘keep your heads down’

Twitter: @MightyBlender –1:19 PM · Aug 12, 2021

Twitter: @_seashelleyes_ – 12:23 PM · Sep 20, 2021

Twitter: @CamDouglasMS – 2:52 PM · Sep 20, 2021

Twitter: @fabtknz – 7:02 AM · Aug 30, 2021

Twitter: @liberal_owners – 9:07 AM · Aug 26, 2021

Twitter: @MariaSherwood2 – 8:51 AM · Aug 26, 2021

Twitter: @vincristine –  8:37 AM · Sep 26, 2021

Twitter: @DesiCommsMan12:52 PM · Sep 24, 2021

Twitter: @BozzyWozzer – 7:25 PM · Sep 26, 2021

Twitter: @mlpgirl775:27 PM · Sep 26, 2021

Twitter: @cleotibbitts – 8:49 PM · Sep 26, 2021

Twitter: @LetsGetPfizered8:43 AM · Sep 16, 2021

Twitter: @RobSuisted1:22 PM · Sep 7, 2021

Twitter: @Shawn675869439:37 AM · Sep 16, 2021

Twitter: @sandzz7710:13 AM · Sep 16, 2021

Twitter: @Tukeke70 – 9:57 AM · Sep 16, 2021

Twitter: @Tikorangi – 9:35 AM · Aug 31, 2021

Twitter: @MarkcyCleary – 9:57 AM · Aug 31, 2021

Twitter: @IdioticTwinkles – 10:09 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @WormwoodNGall8:13 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @FoxyLustyGrover – 6:29 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @infinite_ink 6:38 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @SJPONeill – 6:37 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @pet_brain – 10:55 AM · Aug 30, 2021

Twitter: @Kate_DowlingNZ – 8:37 AM · Aug 30, 2021

Twitter: @fkleitch – 1:33 PM · Aug 30, 2021

Twitter: @BoxyBristol – 7:42 AM · Aug 30, 2021

Twitter: @kaffiene_nz – 10:59 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @Writer_Caroline – 11:29 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @Feebeekiwi – 9:37 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @MJWhitehead – 6:40 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @HantonSusie – 8:51 AM · Aug 30, 2021

Twitter: @NapierinFrame – 7:34 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @Lady__Seraphina – 11:27 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @douggie27 – 6:41 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @js_eighty – 8:36 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @MarieMenzies5 – 7:51 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @gracillus – – 10:13 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Twitter: @platinumpixienz – 10:21 AM · Aug 30, 2021

Twitter: @Hurricane15 – 7:02 PM · Aug 29, 2021

Raise the Bar Hospo Union: About

Twitter: @GGrucilla – 12:09 PM · Oct 2, 2021

Stuff media: If the Government is making the right decisions on Covid-19, it will withstand scrutiny

Coast: Brian Tamaki’s controversial new ‘hot’ advertisement

Ministry of Health: COVID-19 update 23 September 2021

Newshub: Coronavirus – Expert’s blunt message to the Govt as it ponders level 2 for Auckland – ‘How brutal do you want to go?’

Stuff media: Covid-19 NZ – Rodney Jones says Shaun Hendy’s 7000-death vaccine model doesn’t pass plausibility test

TVNZ: Q+A – 3 October 2021

Twitter: Shaun Hendy – 8:04 AM · Sep 26, 2021

Additional

The Spinoff: New Zealand cannot abandon its Covid elimination strategy while Māori and Pasifika vaccination rates are too low

The Spinoff:  Siouxsie Wiles – Why we need to stay the course on elimination

Reference sources

MIQ: History and origins of MIQ

Covid19: History of the COVID-19 Alert System

MBIE: Managed isolation and quarantine data

RNZ: Timeline – The year of Covid-19 in New Zealand

Other Blogs

Bryan Gould: The Herald’s Dilemma

The Daily Blog: John Minto – When will Michael Barnett stop whinging, whining and bleating?

The Standard: Smug hermit king

The Standard: Key’s baaaack

Previous related blogposts

One thousand dead New Zealanders per year?

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Acknowledgement: Guy Body

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Have your own thoughts? Leave a comment. (Trolls need not bother.)

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= fs =

One thousand dead New Zealanders per year?

19 September 2021 3 comments

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The “Plan Bers” – including assorted right-wing politicians, privileged media commentators, faux “experts”, business lobbyists, et al – have a new argument they’re recently taken to trotting out, to justify opening up Aotearoa New Zealand to covid-19:

“We already have 500 New Zealanders dying each year from influenza.”

Overseas “experts” have been just as keen to join the But What About Influenza Club, like this character from the United States, Dr Amesh Adalja, from the Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Health Security:

“We don’t want anybody to die from Covid. Covid is a vaccine preventable illness, now is a vaccine preventable death, but I think there are many tools that you can use short of a lockdown to achieve that goal and I think what we eventually want to see is decoupling of cases from hospitalisations and death. But there’s going to be some level of deaths that occur, and I think it’s interesting because in New Zealand you had around 26 or so deaths.

But in the last flu season you had 500 deaths and I just worry about that precedent, because what is New Zealand going to do for the next flu season? How do you kind of square what you’ve done for Covid for flu? When the flu deaths are 20 times higher because of those actions you’ve taken and I think this is going to be something that your society has to to think about and debate, and I think it’s an important debate to have.”

So there we have it: allowing people to die from preventable disease is worthy of “debate”.

When do we get to debate if Dr Adalja should live or die. Or his family?

In the same “debate”, hosted by Nathan Rarere on RNZ’s “First Up“, Dr Adalja called our lockdowns  “as a last resort when nothing else works, and as a policy failure“.

He acknowledged that our current covid death rate was “around 26 or so deaths” (It’s currently at 27.)

Dr Adalja didn’t mention that the covid death toll of the United States – his home country – currently stands at 691,562. The US is currently experiencing 148,000 cases and 1,991 deaths reported per day.

Nor did Dr Adalja mention that the US is currently experiencing a massive resurgence of Delta Covid, with hospitals being over-whelmed.  Hospital care is being rationed as staff can no longer cope:

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Dr Adalja mentions none of these inconvenient truths. Out-of-control Delta surge. Hospitals forced to rational care. Rising death toll. 

Not. One. Word.

But he is happy to  lecture us that lockdowns are “a policy failure“.

On a recent episode of TV3’s The Nation, political report Tova O’Brien asked National’s covid spokesperson, Chris Bishop, and ACT Leader, David Seymour what number of covid-related deaths would be acceptable to open up Aotearoa New Zealand.

Chris Bishop suggested that “he would like us to get to around 85% before we start to open up“. David Seymour offered no vaccination target.

According to one report from The Lancet, at 90% vaccination rate (including under 15s), our death toll was estimated at around 1,030 per year – twice the influenza rate.

Neither had the courage nor stomach to offer an acceptable death rate.

Mr Seymour, however,  did respond with a bit of Grim Reaperish ‘whataboutism’:

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“Well, 30,000 people die in New Zealand every year.

The truth is that we cannot prevent all deaths. The important question here is how much more are we prepared to spend to prevent a COVID death than deaths from car crashes, deaths from cancer? Because at the moment, the money we’re spending on COVID, we can’t spend on preventing those other kinds of deaths.”

David Seymour has established a new benchmark by casually accepting the annual influenza death toll as an acceptable figure. If 500 covid-related deaths per year are also acceptable, we should look at other causal factors of death in this country, and apply the new benchmark:

David Seymour’s 500 Deaths Rule

Road toll for 2020: 320 + 180 more acceptable deaths = 500

Work Related Deaths for 2020: 66 + 434 more acceptable deaths = 500

Drownings for 2020: 74 + 426 more acceptable deaths = 500

Homicides for 2020: 142 + 358 more acceptable deaths = 500

There are probably many more categories that could have the 500 Deaths Rule applied.

If Mr Seymour can justify an increased covid death toll by pointing and demanding, “What about ‘flu?” then anything can be justified and made acceptable.

This is the benchmark set by David Seymour.  Let’s call it “Seymour’s Death Rule”.

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References

RNZ: Covid-19 debate – When should New Zealand open up its borders?

Worldometer:  Coronavirus Cases – United States

RNZ: US hospitals ration care amid shortages and Covid-19 surge

Reuters: Some U.S. hospitals forced to ration care amid staffing shortages, COVID-19 surge

NPR: A COVID Surge Is Overwhelming U.S. Hospitals, Raising Fears Of Rationed Care

Vox: Americans are dying because no hospital will take them

New York Times: Idaho allows overwhelmed hospitals across the state to ration care if necessary.

Forbes: In Idaho And Other States, The Delta Covid-19 Surge Is Forcing Hospitals To Ration ICU Beds

CNN: As Covid-19 hospitalizations spike, some overwhelmed hospitals are rationing care

Newshub: Coronavirus – David Seymour says Govt ‘cannot prevent all deaths’, says money spent on COVID can’t be spent preventing deaths from other causes

The Lancet – Western Pacific:  COVID-19 vaccine strategies for Aotearoa New Zealand: a mathematical modelling study

Otago University magazine: Flu a major killer

Police: 2020 road deaths down on 2019

Worksafe: Fatalities

Water Safety: Water Safety Reports 2020

Police: Daily Occurrences of Crime and Family Violence Investigations

Previous related blogposts

Judith Collins and National: It’s a trust thing

The freezing cold invisible hand of neo-liberalism

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

The Microbiologist, the Caretaker Leader, and some Nasty Germs

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Acknowledgement: Chris Slane

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The Microbiologist, the Caretaker Leader, and some Nasty Germs

14 September 2021 6 comments

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The recent faux “scandal”  and pile-on levelled at one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s top microbiologists, Dr Siouxsie Wiles:

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— is indicative of how threatened the Right feel about the country’s covid closed borders. Despite mistakes and some slow implementation of policies, the leadership of the current government has saved lives.

First, some numbers we should not overlook:

Aotearoa New Zealand’s covid death toll currently stands at 27.

By contrast, Sweden’s death toll currently sits at 14,662. They have had 1,138,017 covid cases compared to our 3,949 .

Yet, Sweden’s population is ten million – just double ours.

It takes no stretch of the imagination to consider the impact on our health system had we even half of Sweden’s infections, hospital admissions, and death toll.

Our nearest neighbours,  New South Wales (current death toll: 177) and Fiji (current death toll*: 535) also offer grim reminders where we might have ended up had it not been for our political leadership; dedicated health and MIQ border professionals; and committed scientists to lead us through this global war.

Anyone taking note of the facts would quickly realise that this is a ‘beat up’ by right-wing bloggers and the current Leader of the National party. Even some National-leaning media commentators have bought into the “scandal” narrative:

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Let’s be clear. This was not a “scandal”.

“Beat up” by the Right – yes. Pile on by covid-deniers, conspiracy fantasists, misogynistic cranks, and assorted RWNJs – yes.

Scandal? Not even close.

Critics of Dr Wiles have accused her of breaking the 5 kilometre rule of travelling for exercise. Except… there is no such rule in this country. Those critics have either dim-wittedly, or deliberately, conflated our country with New South Wales. (Easy mistake to make. Both places begin with “New”. They could easily have confused us with New York.)

The rules for Aotearoa New Zealand’s Level 4 lockdown, as published on the government covid website:

Recreation and Exercise

You are allowed to leave your home or place of residence for recreation or exercise at an outdoor location in your local area that is easy to access (including by vehicle).

You’re strongly encouraged to wear a face covering and should keep a 2 metre distance from people outside your household bubble, where this is practical. You legally must not attend or organise a gathering of people.

You are not allowed to do any dangerous activities, including:

  • swimming
  • surfing
  • scuba-diving
  • water-based activities with boats (sail or motor)
  • using motorised equipment
  • hunting in motorised vehicles
  • tramping
  • flying aircrafts.

Note where it states: “including by vehicle“. Dr Wiles rode her bicycle. She also, contrary to some mischievous claims, did not enter the water.

The New South Wales rules, by contrast:

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National’s Caretaker Leader, Judith Collins, was her usual measured, composed self when she described Dr Wiles’ exercise outing:

“I think she’s a big fat hypocrite, actually, and I’m sick and tired of listening to her telling everyone else what to do, and here we have the evidence that she had travelled from Freemans Bay to go and visit with her friend on the beach at Judges Bay in Parnell.

That’s about 5km, and unless she ran there – and I doubt it – then she wasn’t exercising. No masks on, sitting there on the beach, and the friend goes off for a swim. I watched that video, and I thought: big fat hypocrite.

I’m so sick of her telling us all what to do. She’s not doing it? Just do it… If those TV stations have her back on telling everyone what to do, I think we should just turn them off.”

It’s a shame Ms Collins did not approach Dr Wiles for her side of the story before attacking the much-respected microbiologist.

Dr Wiles’ comprehensive explanation of events on the day she went to the beach totally discredits Cameron Slaters blogpost. (This blogger will not link to Mr Slater’s post. It does not merit referencing. Readers can search it out if they feel so inclined. Have some disinfectant handy afterwards.)

On Twitter, Dr Wiles stated:

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Several anons (usual; name/word + numbers) attempted to perpetuate the attack on Dr Wiles, but were mocked and derided by other social media users who understood that this was little more than one of Mr Slater’s ill-conceived, malevolent beat-ups.

The support for the good Doctor was clear indication that most Kiwis respect and admire the work she has done to share information and educate us about covid. She has well earned her New Zealander of the Year title, plus some:

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As with death and taxes, it can be guaranteed that neither Judith Collins nor Cameron Slater will ever have to compose a “thank you” speech for winning “NZer of the Year”.

For Ms Collins to engage in a diatribe that – let’s face it – suggests that the pressures of her job; her ongoing lack of popularity; National’s stagnation in the polls; and David Seymour eclipsing her as Preferred Prime Minister – have raised questions about her emotional stability.

Ms Collins’ reference to Dr Wiles as “big, fat” is juvenile at best; Muldoon-style malevolence at worst. It is not the first time she has made snide comments based on a person’s appearance. Or even seven years ago.

Her desperation to keep her leadership rests on achieving the near-impossible: replacing the most popular, articulate, and effective leader this country has had for a long time. The pressure to succeed has seen her lashing out in ways that would be utterly unacceptable in any other part of society.

National’s more moderate MPs, hierarchy, and membership must be shaking their heads in despair at Ms Collins’ worsening irrational outbursts. They must lie awake at night wondering what the next headlines will reveal about their increasingly erratic Leader.

Several must be shaking their heads in despair that Ms Collins is once again associating with former Whaleoil blogger, Cameron Slater. They understand; no good will come of this.

The attack on Dr Wiles is a large dollop of misogynism writ large. No other virologist, microbiologist, epidemiologist, medical professional, or any scientist – who happens to be male – has been attacked as mercilessly; doggedly, and viciously as Dr Wiles.

Not one.

It is revealing that most of her attackers are men. Most are too irrational, with fragile egos, to engage in rational discourse. Dr Wiles is clearly threatening to this minority with their own intractable personal “issues”.

But politically she is also a threat to National and it’s aspirations.

This government has embraced decision-making based on science and safety. Economics comes after. Labour’s decisions have been largely successful, avoiding the over-whelming of our hospitals with covid cases; corpses stacked high in mortuaries; and a death toll in the hundreds – if not thousands.

For Plan Bers and others who want to see Labour fail, it must be galling for them to watch the government’s success thus far. Dr Wiles has been prominent, articulate, and popular in pushing the scientific framing of our covid policies. With her gender and bright pink hair, she has become an easy target for the anonymous on-line trolls and political opportunists, for sustained bullying.

But Dr Wiles is a strong woman and she understands that these people are, deep down inside, like frightened little children. Look at her reasoned, measured, gentle responses to trolls on-line and it’s like a mother reassuring a scared, anxious child during a violent lightning storm.

As another woman said so many years ago (but who holds not even a molecule of the same mana as Dr Wiles); “The lady’s not for turning“.

And as for National’s Caretaker Leader, Judith Collins? Dr Wiles will have her job after the next election. The same cannot be said for Ms Collins.

How to Fight Nasty Germs.

Far from being passive observers of the targeted harrassment of Dr Wiles, many good people are resisting. They are fighting the Germs that have tried to infect and defeat this incredible woman with their misogynistic hatred.

As reported by Stuff’s Josephine Franks (no relation):

People are donating to Dr Siouxsie Wiles’ research after the microbiologist was accused of breaking lockdown rules and called a “big, fat hypocrite” by Judith Collins.

A video of Wiles at the beach with a friend was circulated in blogs this week. It showed the pair talking on the sand without masks on, before the friend goes in the water. The clip was accompanied by accusations of rule-breaking and hypocrisy.

Wiles told Stuff this was a “really clear case of disinformation” that was spread to discredit her and disrupt the country’s collective response to Covid-19.

[…]

“It costs us about $250 to test each fungus, and we’ve over 10,000 fungi to test, so your support could help us discover more of these life-saving medicines,” the donation page reads.

People have been posting screenshots of their donations on Twitter with messages of support for Wiles.

“Donation made to a hard-working, intelligent and patient lady who has gone to great lengths to keep us all informed,” one said.

“Thank you Dr Siouxsie for your amazing work!” another read.

Some dedicated their donations to Judith Collins after the National leader called Wiles a “big, fat hypocrite” in reference to the video.

Wiles was unfazed by the insult, saying: “I get that comment every day, so it’s nothing new. Fat shaming someone who was exercising was kind of ironic, really.”

It would be the best karma ever if the Collins/Slater vendetta against Dr Wiles actually enhanced her work, with people responding to the bullying by donating to her Auckland University research fund:

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Make a donation (whether $5 or $500 – the amount matters nought); take a screen shot; and post it on @JudithCollinsMP (Twitter) or @judithcollinsmp (Facebook).

Like… this:

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This is the best way to fight germs – whether the microscopic variety or equally unsavoury, two legged specimens. As the American saying goes, “Don’t get mad. Get even.”

And we support a fine scientist in her work to beat Germs.

You just can’t get “revenge” more delicious than that.

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(* Fiji’s death troll is likely to be under-reported.)

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References

ODT: Collins calls Dr Siouxsie Wiles ‘a big, fat hypocrite’

Stuff media: Covid-19 – Dr Siouxsie Wiles warns of ‘disinformation’ after claims she was caught breaking lockdown rules

ODT: Dr Wiles hits back at accusations she broke lockdown rules

Newshub: Ashley Bloomfield defends Siouxsie Wiles’ maskless beach visit as Judith Collins labels her ‘hypocrite’

Worldometers: New Zealand Coronavirus

Worldometers: Sweden Coronavirus

NZ Herald: Covid 19 Australia: NSW, Victoria outbreaks grow – Queensland dodges lockdown

Worldometer: Fiji Coronavirus

NZ Herald: Judith Collins’ leadership flagging before Dr Siouxsie Wiles scandal

Covid19.govt.nz: Permitted movement within Alert Level 4 – recreation and exercise

NSW Government: Greater Sydney restrictions

Newshub: Siouxsie Wiles hits back at Judith Collins over ‘big fat hypocrite’ jibe

Twitter: @SiouxsieW – beach walk – 10.9.21

NZAwards: New Zealander of the Year 2021

Newshub: ACT’s David Seymour overtakes National’s Judith Collins as preferred Prime Minister in Newshub-Reid Research Poll

RNZ: Judith Collins – Obese people must take responsibility for ‘personal choices’

Stuff media: Collins jumps in ‘racist’ clothes-fight

Stuff media: Covid-19 – Donations fly in for Dr Siouxsie Wiles’ research after Judith Collins calls her a ‘hypocrite’

Auckland University: Beating the Superbugs

Twitter: @ConanMcKeggNational are goong after her for purely political reasons – 12.9.21

ABC: Medical experts say a third of Fiji’s COVID-19 deaths may be unreported

Additional

The Spinoff: New Zealand urgently needs a serious opposition leader

Other Blogs

The Standard: Dirty Politics does not work any more

Previous related blogposts

A fitting response to National MP’s recent personal attacks on Metiria Turei (Feb, 2014)

New Clothing Standards set by National Party (Feb, 2014)

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Acknowledgement: Weston Frizzell

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 20 (@L3)

7 September 2021 Leave a comment

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6 September: Day 20 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 801

Cases in ICU: 6 (4 on ventilation)

Number of deaths: 1 (Total since first infection in Aotearoa: 27)

Twenty new cases today – the same as yesterday. Not a drop down – but not a rise either.

Meanwhile, as reported, Aotearoa New Zealand :

“… outside of Auckland, will move to alert level 2 from 11.59pm Tuesday 7 September.

Auckland will stay in level 4 until 11.59pm next Tuesday, 14 September.

Cabinet will review the alert level settings for all of New Zealand next Monday, 13 September.

It’s a positive move which reflects that this risk-averse government accepts we are on the right track.

Meanwhile, business interests – notably the trucking industry – is bleating like stuck pigs – at requirements for truckies to be tested as they move from Auckland to the rest of the country.

Because these never happened:

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— right?

The grim prospect of an infected truckie driving the length and breadth of Aotearoa New Zealand, transmitting Delta along the way, does not bear thing about. One infected truckie could plunge the country back into Level 4 lockdown, giving the trucking industry more headaches than a simple nasal swab test.

Time to grow up, fellas.

And speaking of immature, self-entitled, plonkers of the worst sort:

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Seymour this morning released a written statement with an attached image displaying the priority access codes, which allow Māori and Pacific people to receive the vaccine at Whānau Ora locations without needing to book ahead.

“The virus doesn’t discriminate on race, so neither should the rollout,” the statement said. “Access to vaccination has been the same for people of all ethnic backgrounds. If fewer Māori are vaccinated it can’t be a problem with access, but this move by the government insinuates that Māori have trouble making a booking.”

However, the virus does discriminate. The New Zealand Medical Journal has found that after controlling for age and underlying conditions Māori and Pacific people have 2.5x and 3.06x higher odds of being hospitalised for contracting Covid-19 than other ethnicities.

Researchers estimated risk of death for Māori from Covid-19 was at least 50 percent higher than European New Zealanders and infection rates are also significantly higher while vaccination rates have languished.

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“The virus doesn’t discriminate on race, so neither should the rollout” – he doesn’t even understand the basic science behind infection; underlying co-morbidities; and heightened risks. His wilful ignorance is Trumpian, to put it politely.

Look, I get that the two right-wing parties are scrapping over the diminishing red-neck voter demographic. There are probably a few hundred thousand right-wing voters which could mean a couple of extra MPs for either ACT or National.

But if National and ACT are going to get dirty with their politicking, and put us at risk of a raging pandemic, I doubt they will endear themselves to the majority of New Zealanders.

What David Seymour did was so wrong that it reveals an immoral aspect to his nature that makes him unfit to be anywhere near political power.

A person who exploits a minority for political gain is the last thing this country needs.

We already have one deadly germ to deal with. We don’t need another.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 821

Cases in ICU: 6

Number of deaths: 1 (Total since first infection in Aotearoa: 27)

So ended the twentieth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

Newshub: As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak –  Sunday, September 5

RNZ: Covid-19 update – 20 new community cases reported in New Zealand today

The Border Mail: Truck driver in isolation with COVID, exposure site listed at Henty

NZ Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus – Truckie’s ‘guilt’ after spreading Covid-19 in Victoria

WA Government: COVID-19 update 27 August 2021 – NSW truck drivers test positive to COVID-19

RNZ: Māori vaccine equity scheme criticism blows back on Seymour

RNZ: Covid-19 Delta outbreak day 20: How it unfolded

Other Blogs

A Phuulish Fellow: Down to Level 2 – 2021 Edition (+ Rant about Australian Plague)

The Standard: Seymour undermines vaccine roll out for Maori

Previous related blogposts      

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 9 & 10  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 10 (cont’d) & 11  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 12  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 13 & 14  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 15 (@L3)  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 16 (@L3)  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 17 & 18 (@L3)  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 19 (@L3)

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Acknowledgement: Rod Emmerson

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 19 (@L3)

6 September 2021 1 comment

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5 September: Day 19 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 782

Cases in ICU: 7

Number of deaths: 1 (Total since first infection in Aotearoa: 27)

Another day spent mostly at home. Plenty of housework to finish, and a chance to catch up on some tree and flax planting I’d been meaning to get around to for since Lockdown. The front lawn is slowly becoming a micro-“Zelandia, with native trees and other plants gradually replacing flat grass:

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New flax plantings, and Whao (encircled in red)

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New ‘Whao’ (centre)

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The flax was obtained from a professional garden-maintenance team who were going to dump it. The flax was perfectly fine, simply needing to be split apart, pruned back, and planted.

As I was doing the work (surprisingly easy, as the holes did not require to be large or deep), I spotted a ‘friend’ high over-head on a power-line studying my exertions:

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Perhaps in a few decades, when my ‘mini-Zelandia’ garden has become more mature, Kereru, Tui, and other native birds will choose to roost in branches that are only a few metres from my lounge.

How cool would that be?

Trimmed other trees around my property. Much needed, as they were over-growing a pathway, and entangling each other.

Went to ‘Repco” for car engine oil. The contactless-service was well designed; a table at the back of the retail outlet; roped off; masked retail attendant; QR codes well displayed; sign-in sheets filled with names and details of customers: a responsible corporate citizen.

Waited until after the 1PM press – more on that at the conclusion of this blogpost.

Phoned my partner. We chatted. Hoped that the North Island outside Auckland would drop to Level 2 this week. She had been gardening as well. If the nationwide lockdown lasted long enough, the entire country would have the most well manicured gardens on the planet.

Waited until 8PM to do grocery shopping. At this time, the supermarket was not as busy as usual, and social distancing was a simple, non-stressful matter.

A day where I managed to do the things I’d been meaning to do for months, but always managed to deflect my attention elsewhere.

Jarring note for the day, unsurprisingly, came from TV3’s Tova O’Brien, in an exchange that beggared belief. Ms O’Brien asked Dr Bloomfield this bizarre question about exemptions for funerals:

“Funeral directors are pushing for that because there’s this inconsistency where under Level Four, strangers can be socially distanced in a supermarket queue and they can be socially distanced on the waterfront, but they can’t be socially distanced at a burial outdoors at a cemetary.”

The utter incoherent stupidity of that question/assertion cannot be over-stated.

Firstly, it is not an “inconsistency”. Many businesses and services have either closed or been forced to offer reduced services.

Secondly, it defies rational understanding that Ms O’Brien compares a supermarket queue or people on the waterfront with a funeral service. Strangers at a supermarket, standing in a queue, do not – generally speaking – comfort each other in a heightened emotional state of grief. Strangers passing by on the waterfront, likewise, rarely grab each other for a ‘comforting’ hug.

Thirdly, comparing going to a supermarket for a loaf of bread with a funeral service where a family’s loved one is being buried or cremated, is offensive. Who makes such comparisons?!

As Dr Bloomfield explained – with the sainted patience of a teacher addressing a six year old:

“Indeed, one of the comments I would make and I know the Prime Minister has made it before, is that funerals and tangihanga tend to be places where people like to comfort each other and so its… that’s a very important consideration here where it may be more difficult for a whole lot of reasons for people to maintain physical distancing, but of course we’ll continue to keep talking with the funeral director groups. If the request comes through we’ll assess that on it’s merits.”

Ms O”Brien followed up with a loaded question that can only be described as appallingly bad taste:

“Do you support the arrest of grieving families at a ceremony if they were socially distanced?”

If she was looking for headlines, thankfully TV3/Newshub’s news-editors wisely decided against it. Little wonder that public irritation with some individuals in the mainstream media has increased throughout the covid crisis. And little wonder that social media lit up with outright disgust at her inappropriate line of questions.

Because most people with at least a modicum of comprehension realise how – during a raging pandemic – funeral services can be potential super-spreaders leading to more covid cases; more hospitalisations; more ICU patients, and ultimately, more deaths:

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I don’t know what Ms O’Brien thought she was doing, but it wasn’t journalism.

But to end the day on a good note, there were only twenty new cases today (same as yesterday); no covid viral particles detected in wastewater outside Auckland and Wellington.

And no one died.

There’s your headline, Ms O’Brien: no one died.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 801

Cases in ICU: 6 (4 on ventilation)

Number of deaths: 1 (Total since first infection in Aotearoa: 27)

So ended the nineteenth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

RNZ: Covid-19 wrap for day 18 of lockdown      

Facebook: COVID-19 update – 5 September 2021 (video, @ 25:22)

BBC: Coronavirus doctor’s diary – A super-spreading funeral that led to three deaths

Fox4: Texas funeral becomes ‘super spreader’ event after 40 people contract COVID-19

ABC News: Health authorities fear Wilcannia funeral could be a ‘major’ COVID event as NSW Far West cases climb

France24: Fiji’s capital enters lockdown after Covid-19 ‘superspreader’ funeral event

Newshub: As it happened: Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak –  Sunday, September 5

RNZ: Covid-19 update – 20 new community cases reported in New Zealand today

Previous related blogposts

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 9 & 10  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 10 (cont’d) & 11  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 12  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 13 & 14  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 15 (@L3)  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 16 (@L3)  

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 17 & 18 (@L3)  

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Acknowledgement: M David

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 17 & 18 (@L3)

5 September 2021 2 comments

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3 September: Day 17 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 736

Cases in ICU: 6 (3 on ventilation)

Number of deaths: –

It started of as a great day.

The covid lockdown was working. Yesterday there had been 49 new cases.  Today. the number was down to an an amazing 28 new cases. This would give the anti-lockdown cranks here and abroad (especially where covid is rampant; hospitals are failing to cope; and the corpses are mounting) something to get hysterical about.

There are plenty of covid-cowards who cannot abide our success at controlling this deadly disease. They would rather that we fail – as their leaders have utterly failed. It rationalises their own deficiencies.

Even National’s Covid Spokesperson, Chris Bishop, found good cause to cheer from the sidelines:

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Greater Wellington had one of the finest days since… last summer. With a bright blue sky and not a single cloud in sight, it was the promise of summer to come. (Chillingly, little did I know as I took those pictures that dark clouds were gathering over Auckland…)

Along Oriental Bay, Wellingtonians made the most of this perfect Spring Day:

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Oriental Bay, looking north

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Perhaps the loveliest sky in the entire Solar System (Ok, with possible exception of Saturn, with it’s dazzling rings)

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Southwest, toward the city

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Mask wearing could have been better, as I estimated only around two thirds (?) bothered.

That afternoon, before 3pm, reports started coming over the radio: an incident at LynnMall in New Lynn, Auckland. People had been hurt, one person dead.

As events unfolded it became clearer. Aotearoa New Zealand had been struck by another terrorist extremist. He had attacked and injured six shoppers at the supermarket (later, it was announced there was a seventh victim/survivor).

He had used a knife.

Acknowledging the horror of this incident and the deep harm caused to the seven people; their families; and to supermarket workers – there was an immediate thought that crossed my mind.

Thankfully he had not the same access to firearms that the Christchurch terrorist had.

The contrast in blood-letting was staggering. The Christchurch terrorist had used firearms and shot dead 51 people. The LynnMall terrorist had only a knife, and had not succeeded in wounding more than seven. All seven are still alive (though three remain in Intensive Care in critical condition), and hopefully none will lose their life.

We can be thankful to this government that semi-automatics have been mostly (but not all) eliminated from this country; that gun licensing has been tightened up; and that this deranged individual was under constant surveillance.

On a day we should have been rejoicing and being insufferably smug to the rest of the world, it felt as if the rug had been pulled out from under all five million of us.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 764

Cases in ICU: 9 (3 on ventilation)

Number of deaths: –

So ended the seventeenth day of our journey to beat this thing.

 

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4 September: Day 18 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 764

Cases in ICU: 9 (3 on ventilation)

Number of deaths: –

A day off. Have not gone out – I still take Level 3 lockdown meaning precisely that: stay at home.

Another beautiful day outside. Breakfast time: feed companion animal. Feed myself.

Watched ‘The Nation‘ on TV3. A Tauranga port worker interviewed, demanding his right to choose whether or not to get the vaccine. I wonder if the virus will offer him the same choice to be infected or not? I’m 100% certain the virus will respect his right to decline infection.

Viruses are nice like that. They ask permission first.

Tova O’Brien interviewed Associate Minister of Health, Peeni Henare. When the issue of the recent absconder from Novotel & Ibis Ellerslie MIQ facility was raised, Ms O’Brien suggested to the minister:

“Your focus also has to be on your constituents in Tamaki Makaurau and keeping them safe.”

Considering Minister Henare is not a police constable on-the-beat on the streets of Ōtāhuhu, it is unclear how he could have intervened directly to apprehend the absconding idiot. She might as well ask him why he can’t walk on water.

On a lighter note,  this exchange took place between National’s Caretaker Leader Collins and another Twitter-user on the social-media platform. A subtle ‘burn’ if I ever saw one:

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*Ouch!* That reposte would sting.

And worse still, the Twitter-user had more “Likes” to his post than the Official (Caretaker) Leader of the New Zealand National Party.

Some work to do around the house; a week’s worth of laundry (done); hang-out to dry (done); change kitty litter box (done); do dishes (done); have fun jousting with RWNJ trolls on Twitter who have been harassing another Twitter-user (done)…

The 1pm figures are released and it is more happy news – tinged with tragedy. My fear has come to pass; we have had a loss of life due to Delta, the first for this current outbreak.

We have now lost 27 souls to this pandemic and 27 families (if not more) are grieving.

The sadness makes the good news harder to appreciate. Only 20 new cases of Delta infections. Less than half the number from yesterday. I should be punching the air in triumph and giving a whoop of delight.

But we’ve lost a fellow New Zealander.

If the Universe is playing a joke on us, I don’t get the punchline.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 782

Cases in ICU: 7

Number of deaths: 1 (Total since first infection in Aotearoa: 27)

So ended the eighteenth day of our journey to beat this thing.

 

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References

Stuff media: Covid-19 outbreak situation report – what happened today, September 2    

RNZ: Covid-19 case numbers – 28 new community cases in NZ today

Stuff media: Covid-19 outbreak situation report – what happened today, September 2

RNZ: Covid-19 case numbers – 28 new community cases in NZ today

Twitter: @cjsbishop – 89,000 new vaccinations – 3 Sept 2021

RNZ: Man shot dead at Countdown supermarket in Auckland

Stuff media: Auckland terror attack – Victims aged between 29 and 77, three still in critical condition

Stuff media: Covid-19 – Man who allegedly fled managed isolation was given ride home by friend

Newshub Nation:  Associate Minister of Health Peeni Henare promises priority for Māori should COVID-19 vaccine stocks run low

RNZ: Covid-19 wrap for day 18 of lockdown

Additional

TVNZ: Covid-19 wrap for day 18 of lockdown

Other Blogs

Bryan Gould: A Grim Future for National

The Standard: Judith’s very bad two days

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell on the messaging to the vaccine hesitants

Previous related blogposts

Is Air NZ the Covid re-infection problem? Possible evidence points to national airline

Does OIA evidence confirm possible Air NZ link to recent covid outbreaks?

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 9 & 10

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 10 (cont’d) & 11

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 12

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 13 & 14

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 15 (@L3)

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 16 (@L3)

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Acknowledgement: Guy Body

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 16 (@L3)

3 September 2021 3 comments

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2 September: Day 16 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 687

Cases in ICU: 8 (3 on ventilation)

Number of deaths: –

Woke up to RNZ’s ‘Morning Report’ to not one – but two stories! – of people wanting to travel and whining that they haven’t been allocated MIQ rooms. Both were classic cases of entitlement with the latter an unbelievable whinge. (Trigger warning: both are irritating to listen to.)

Especially as, in the same morning, it was clearly reported and explained that the Delta outbreak in Aotearoa New Zealand was already placing our MIQ facilities and hospitals under considerable strain.

It is unclear what purpose was served by airing those two stories about New Zealanders demanding to travel. While it is understandable that people may want to travel to see elderly parents, now is not the time during a global pandemic. (I would dearly love to visit my parents and family overseas!)

Especially – and RNZ failed utterly to make this point – Kiwis travelling through countries to visit elderly, vulnerable, or sick family is not a wise idea. In fact, it’ds downright dangerous. Picking up Delta and then infecting elderly parents would most certainly finish them off.

RNZ failed to probe whether international travel was wise.

This is ‘grief journalism’ we can do without.

The day was chilly and overcast.

Curiously, traffic appeared to be less than preceding days. In parts of Kilbirnie (away from the supermarkets) traffic was actually more like Level 4 Lockdown last year; sparse.

Only half of pedestrians were wearing facemasks. Disappointing.

The second best news of the day? We had 49 new cases, in contrast to yesterdays depressing ‘blip’ of 75. The downward trajectory resumes – hopefully – as long as all New Zealands act responsibly.

And the best news of the day? Despite over 700 cases, no one has died. (“Don’t ‘jinx’ it, Frank!”, I hear you all scream at me!) Despite everything that has happened since this outbreak began, our preternatural Kiwi good luck has continued.

Please may that not end.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 736

Cases in ICU: 6 (3 on ventilation)

Number of deaths: –

So ended the sixteenth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

RNZ: Covid-19 update – 75 new community cases in NZ today

RNZ: Covid-19 – Overseas Kiwi distraught at MIQ vouchers pause

RNZ: Covid-19 – MIQ virtual lottery on the way, but bookings on pause for now

RNZ: Covid-19 – Delta cases outstrip hotel quarantine

Newshub: As it happened – Latest on COVID19 community outbreak – Wednesday, September 1

Stuff media: Covid-19 outbreak situation report – what happened today, September 2

Previous related blogposts

Is Air NZ the Covid re-infection problem? Possible evidence points to national airline

Does OIA evidence confirm possible Air NZ link to recent covid outbreaks?

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 9 & 10

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 10 (cont’d) & 11

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 12

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 13 & 14

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 15 (@L3)

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Acknowledgement: Tom Scott

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 15 (@L3)

2 September 2021 5 comments

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1 September: Day 15 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 612

Cases in ICU: 8

Number of deaths: –

Day 15 of Level four lockdown in Auckland and Northland. For the rest of Aotearoa New Zealand, the first day of moving down to Level 3 – or Level 4 with takeaways, as others describe this alert level.

It’s a beautiful spring day outside. There are few clouds in our over-carbonised, clear blue sky.  According to 9AM news bulletin on RNZ, traffic around Wellington is “near normal”.

As I leave for work around mid-day (Wednesdays at the moment are short work-days for me) for my one and only client, I drive past the local railway pak & ride. A lot more cars today, around ten or a dozen.

Out on the motorway and the level of traffic stuns me. It is almost as heavy as pre-L4 lockdown. And… roadworks are back. Damn.

Though I notice that road-working crews are all masked up. It’s a warm, sunny day, and these guys are klitted up with work clothes, safety boots; flouro-jackets, and face-masks. They must be bloody hot with all that kit.

These guys are heroic. I hope their employers slip them a little “something extra” in their Christmas pay-packet.

On the Hutt River-bank, a few people are strolling or lying in the sun.

In Wellington I took a slight detour around Oriental Bay. My suspicions are confirmed: the footpaths are busy with strollers and joggers. And the beach has attracted a few families and others:

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Oriental Bay – northward

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Oriental Bay-Freyberg beach

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Only around half or two-thirds maximum were masked up. (Note: the photos do not do justice to the actual numbers that were present.)

So much for staying home during Alert Level Three. Some folk must have missed that memo.

This blogger wasn’t the only one who noticed the apparent, unannounced drop down to Level Alert 2, seemingly skipping L3 altogether:

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No wonder the government was so cautious before moving to Level 3. They had to make absolutely certain that there was no community transmission outside of Auckland before dropping a Level.

Government and Ministry officials understood that human behaviour being what it is, moving out of L4 would signal to people that there was no further imminent danger. To all intents and purposes, Level 3 and Level 2 are one-and-the-same for a significant portion of the population.

Danger over.

Slip back into complacency mode.

Time for fish and chips.

The Mystery of the Delta Strain

Yesterday, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield admitted that government and ministry officials had no clear understanding of the source of the current outbreak:

Contact tracers have hit a brick wall in their efforts to find the source of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Earlier, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield explained all while evidence points to Auckland Crowne Plaza hotel managed isolation facility, the virus’ exact path remained a mystery.

“We’ve gone down a number of roads and they’ve all turned out to be dead ends so far,” Dr Bloomfield told a news briefing. “We may never find the exact way that the virus got from the facility into the community but we are very confident that’s the place where it came from.”

All that is known for certainty is that the Delta strain emanated from Sydney (or somewhere in New South Wales). The virus entered through a Returnee from Sydney (“Index Case”) in early August soon after the Trans Tasman bubble – originally strongly supported by the National Party – was closed on 23 July.

But the Ministry of Health has been unable to ascertain how the Returnee transmitted the virus to others.

There is one possibility that has not been publicly discussed: that the Returnee infected a member of the flight crew. This is a real option, as flight crews are not required to isolate for fourteen days at MIQs like everyone else.

They are provided with separate facilities at Heartland Hotel situated at 14 Airpark Drive, Māngere, some 3.5kms from Auckland International Airport; at Grand Windsor in down Auckland’s Queen Street, and Ramada Hotels at Auckland CBD and Manukau.

For more information, I refer the reader to two previous stories on this issue:

If the outbreak was caused by the “Index Case” transmitting the virus to a flight attendant, it will not be the first time an Air New Zealand cabin-crew member has been infected and transmitted the virus to others.

Whilst flight crews are not required to isolate in MIQ for the full fourteen days, that are required to provide a negative nasal-swab test before allowed to leave their facility:

Air NZ crew returning to Aotearoa have to enter managed isolation, just like the passengers they are transporting, but are allowed to leave if they return a negative test after 48 hours.

However, as the most recent Delta case in Wellington showed, negative results are not always accurate. Not even two negative tests. Or three negative tests!

All but one of the cases reported on Wednesday were in Auckland, the other is a household contact of a Wellington case who had returned three negative tests and remains asymptomatic.

If that Wellington person had been an Air New Zealand flight crew member, they would have left their isolation facility after their first negative test.

For reasons that can only be guessed at – but may involve strong financial incentivess – Air New Zealand flight crews continue to be exempt from isolation rules that are strictly enforced for others.

Private Enterprise, a pandemic, and consequences

ACT Leader David Seymour is not short of ideas. Most of them impractical, to put it politely.

One such very dim “light bulb” moment – which government has thankfully dismissed as downright dangerous – is to allow private MIQ facilities to operate:

ACT’s plan for managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) – were it to be in Government – would be to allow private hotels to provide MIQ services under contract to the government as a way to relieve the shortage of MIQ beds. Governed under strict rules, both workers and guests in these facilities would have to be vaccinated.

“ACT has a plan to expand MIQ places and make it safer than what the Government is doing now. Under ACT’s plan, owners of currently mothballed hotels could seek a licence to operate MIQ according to strict criteria,” ACT leaders David said in a statement accompanying the release.

How successful would it be?

Who knows. But if two recent incidences are any indication: not very good:

Two students have now been caught breaching lockdown rules by flying out of Auckland, receiving fines for breaking the rules.

Over recent days, a Victoria University student flew from Auckland to Wellington without an exemption.

An Otago University student flew from Auckland to Dunedin.

Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said this was “disappointing”.

“These people should not be travelling, there will potentially be consequences for them, for breaking the rules.”

But more critically still, Minister Hipkins made it clear these students had breached critical security protocols to board their flights:

“They should be being checked even before they get into the airport terminal. Previous level four restrictions, and I just want to check to make sure this has absolutely operating as it has previously, have had people at the door at the airport terminal checking why people are entering the terminal, before they can even get anywhere near the plane.”

So the Auckland airport terminal – a private company – had such poor security that two students were able to breach the facility and board their flights, without being detected?

If those two had been carrying the Delta Strain, Aotearoa New Zealand would now be facing new clusters of the virus in Wellington and Dunedin. It would cost the country billions more.

Would Auckland airport pay the bill for the economic damage that would result?

And if private MIQ facilities failed, allowing Delta (or a worse strain) into the community – would David Seymour take responsibility?

Did National take responsibility for the failed Trans Tasman bubble they pressured the government to open up?

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The answer to all three questions is a resounding “no”.

As the sign on the wall states quite clearly:

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Wiping the Debating Chamber Floor with ACT

National and ACT got their wish: Parliament sat yesterday. Though going by Hansard and video, National’s Caretaker Leader Collins and  ACT Leader David Seymour may be ruing that it happened at all.

A series of questions from Mr Seymour to Minister Hipkins resulted in hard answers that the former was perhaps not expecting. Minister Hipkins wiped the floor with the hapless ACT Leader.

But matters took a dark turn when Mr Seymour asked:

“Has he, his officials, or anybody in the Ministry of Health at all—or the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, for that matter—offered to pay additional money to Pfizer, as Canada has done, to get additional doses faster?”

Minister Hipkins made his response crystal clear; Aotearoa New Zealand would not be bribing its way to vaccinating the population ahead of other countries:

“Pfizer have been very clear: their production, the production that they have of the vaccine, is fully committed around the globe and they are not willing to offer rich countries the opportunity to pay more in order to displace countries who cannot afford to do that—which suggests that big pharma has a higher ethical and moral standard than the ACT Party does.”

Mr Seymour quickly changed his line of questioning.

For good reason. Various cranks around the country have been pushing the line that we should outbid other nations for the vaccine.

Former minister; ACT politician; and relic from a by-gone age, Richard Prebble made the same disturbing demand in a NZ Herald article*:

“The government is innumerate. They are willing to spend $685 million on a harbour cycleway with negative cost/benefit but not $40 million for an early vaccine rollout to save billions of dollars and possibly many lives.”

As did NewstalkZB ‘host’ and right-wing fellow-traveller, Heather du Plessis-Allan who said on 7 July:

“Why did we agree to $56 and then baulk at another $10 to get it earlier? Why would we say ‘nah we’d rather be right the back of the queue thanks, literally last in the developed world’?

[…]

I do not buy the government’s argument that it’s unethical to pay more to vaccines ahead of others

We didn’t elect them to prioritise citizens of other countries, they’re elected to look after us

[…]

But isn’t it an insight into the lack of urgency behind the scenes. For a mere $10 a person, we might’ve actually been front of the queue, instead of dead last in the developed world”

A free marketeer Twitter-user also called for jumping the queue by paying a “premium” (a polite way of calling an outright bribe):

“Of course you can. By drug companies selling to the highest bidder, they increase their resources to ramp up production. ECON 101 which this government, and its defenders don’t understand”

The only people who do not understand “econ 101” are neo-liberals who are so blinded by their simplistic ideology that they cannot see the consequences of their reckons.

Let me oblige them.

Assume that pharmaceutical companies auction of their vaccines to the highest bidder(s). What would be the consequences (because free-marketeers/neo-libs must accept that everything has consequences, whether intended or not)?

As I pointed out to the ACT-supporting Twitter user:

Firstly, it is just plain wrong. It is neo-liberal, hyper-individualist self-interest taken to it’s deadly conclusion. Even if we could, is that the soul of Aotearoa New Zealand?

Bidding for what’s already available just pushes up the price & we WILL lose out every time to richer nations. There is no avoiding that reality. 

There are 49 other countries richer (GDP, 2017 figures) than us. Calculated per capita, there are thirtyone wealthier nations ahead of us. Imagine entering a bidding war with the US, China, UK, France, etc. This would be the scenario confronting us if certain foolish people had their way. We would end up with nothing.

Bidding for vaccines creates a law-of-the-jungle instead of international co-operation. Again, there is no way small nations would benefit from a tooth-and-claw struggle with richer economies.

To assume otherwise demonstrates a childlike lack of understanding of international affairs and human nature.

Pharmaceutical companies are already producing at full capacity. A bidding war would not create more supply; just push up prices. (Our electricity supply has similarities.)

How would out-bidding poorer, developing nations to grab vaccines  benefit us? It wouldn’t. It would simply create vast breeding grounds of new mutant strains of covid. These mutations would likely end up with strains more infectious; more deadly, and more critically, more resistant to current vaccines.

In effect, bidding and grabbing vaccines would end up with covid spreading and evolving, becoming vaccine-resistant, and we would end up back at Square 1.

It is obviously from the witterings of the likes of Mr Seymour, Mr Prebble, Ms du Plessis-Allan, Mr Wrathall, et al, that none of them have thought this through. Their shallow thinking would doom us all to repeating cycles of vaccination; new mutations; new vaccines; new mutations; new vaccines, etc.

With a lot of dead people in body-bags along the way. But then, Mr Seymour is prepared for that eventuality:

“If vaccination doesn’t work, then we’re isolated forever. Clearly, we have to have a plan B from vaccination being the endgame. And if we’re not prepared to do it at the start of next year, then when are we prepared to do it?

That could mean living with Covid-19, even if that led to large outbreaks, more hospitalisations and even fatalities because the level of population is not high enough to keep health services from being overwhelmed.”

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 687

Cases in ICU: 8 (3 on ventilation)

Number of deaths: –

So ended the fifteenth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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* This blogger will not be linking directly to Mr Prebbes or Ms du Plessis-Allan’s articles. To do so would reward them and their media platform with “clicks” this blogger is not prepared to encourage.

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References

RNZ: Covid-19 update on 31 August – 49 new cases in the community

Twitter: @FranklNZwe missed the L2 announcement – 1.9.21

Newshub:  Coronavirus – Latest on COVID-19 community outbreak – Tuesday, August 31

Newsroom: Sydney returnee likely source of Covid outbreak

NZ Herald:  Covid 19 coronavirus – Bluff wedding cluster – Air New Zealand flight attendant is possible origin

Newshub: Air New Zealand crew claim they’re being ‘forced’ to work on COVID-19 quarantine flights

Stuff media: Covid-19 – 75 new cases in Delta community outbreak, but curve is ‘gradually bending’

Stuff media: ACT proposes private MIQ and ending ‘the four horsemen of bad regulation’

RNZ: Uni student who flew from Auckland to Wellington didn’t understand guidelines

Twitter: National Party – Sign the Trans Tasman bubble petition

Hansard: Seymour, David; Hipkins, Chris; Mallard, Trevor

RNZ: Week in Politics – Learning to live with the virus – or not

Twitter – @SteveHWrathalldrug companies selling to the highest bidder – 31/8/21

Twitter: @fmacskasy – Bidding for what’s already available – 1/9/2021

Worldometer: GDP by Country

Worldometer: GDP per Capita

NZ Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus – David Seymour -Open the borders next year regardless of vaccination levels

RNZ:  Covid-19 update – 75 new community cases in NZ today

Previous related blogposts

Is Air NZ the Covid re-infection problem? Possible evidence points to national airline

Does OIA evidence confirm possible Air NZ link to recent covid outbreaks?

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 9 & 10

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 10 (cont’d) & 11

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 12

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 13 & 14

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Acknowledgement: Jeff Bell

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 13 & 14

1 September 2021 5 comments

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30 August: Day 13 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 511

Cases in ICU: 2

Number of deaths: –

Another gray, overcast day. It’s been raining and though there’s no wind, there’s an edge of a chill in the air.

Local railway park n ride has four cars. On SH2 River Road, I counted half a dozen cars in sight – and a rainbow! Yet again, commercial vehicles dominate the road, including a car-transporter with two cars on the deck.

South of Petone, on SH2, a car had broken down, it’s rear end up on jacks. An AA Service vehicle and police car with flashing emergency lights were in attendance. (Just one example why people need to stay home and shop or exercise local: a break-down involves emergency services in attendance and the potential for those in the immediate vicinity to break their “bubbles”.)

Traffic surprisingly south of Ngauranga was lighter than usual.

Radio on in the car, Nine to Noon’sKathryn Ryan’s first guest was  University of Auckland Professor of Epidemiology, Professor Rod Jackson. It was a hard, in-your-face discussion, but worth listening to. For all those immature adults constantly demanding certainty, Professor Jackson had an apt saying:

“The only thing certain about covid is uncertainty.”

He added that the best way to contain covid is simple: keep infected people away from everyone else. That stops the spread. Blindingly simply. But surprising how many people don’t get it.

The  interview is worth listening to. Prof Jackson knows his stuff. He’s not a NewstalkZB “shock jock”; fear mongering columnist; or business whinger.

There is a world of difference between professional experts who have spent decades learning their science and telling us hard truths – as opposed to business whingers always demanding the impossible (because Sydney shows us where that road leads) or doom-merchant columnists who mock and deride us for our collective efforts to carry on fighting this viral foe. Or a media platforming bad-take “reckons” from overseas and local commentators that serves no useful purpose. Except gain ‘clicks’ for advertising revenue?

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Or, sadly, opportunistic and ambitious politicians (not mentioning any names) who will undermine the government in the hope that it will win them votes. It won’t. Team 5 Million are committed to this struggle; we have too much invested; and we identify with the empathetic, yet determined, leadership of PM Ardern. Anything that detracts from our collective “mission” creates an “Us and Them” resentment.

With the Opposition National party being the “Them”.

It is also a dangerous strategy  because Delta is apolitical. Any chink in our collective armour, and the virus will exploit it mercilessly.

Undermining the government undermines us all.

Later in the day, at the 1PM ‘presser’, the nation learns that we have 53 new cases! 53! A significant drop from yesterday’s 83.

Judging by the responses on social media, the entire nation just went nuts with joy. It’s like we just beat our Yankee cuzzies in KZ7 all over again.

The grim news is that numbers have reached mid-500s with five in ICU. These are not good figures to have. About now, statistically speaking, people will start dying.

Driving home tonight, I realise it’s been several days since I’ve listened to my usual news programmes, mostly RNZ’s “Checkpoint” and TV1 News. I’m not really missing either of them.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 562

Cases in ICU: 5

Number of deaths: –

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31 August: Day 14 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 562

Cases in ICU: 5

Number of deaths: –

First up on RNZ’s Nine to Noon programme: serial business whiner, Michael Barnett. I switch off.

It’s a new day and the big question on Team 5 Million’s collective mind is – was it just a ‘blip’? Or is it a real, downward trajectory. This afternoon’s 1PM presser will be top-rating, must-watch TV (or must-listen radio).

Pre-empting the announcement, I post on Twitter:

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And the announcement is made…

…the number of cases has fallen for a second day running: 49! And the crowd goes wild!!!

Meanwhile, in Wellington, having totally failed to read the room, National’s Caretaker Leader, Judith Collins, has demanded that Parliament sit – physically – instead of conducting business by modern technology.

Instead, she and a handful of picked cronies (but, curiously, not including Chris Bishop – the National Party’s covid spokesperson) fly to Wellington from Auckland.

Breaking lockdown in Auckland to fly to Wellington. According to Ms Collins, as an elected Parliamentary representative, she is an “essential worker”.

Bad news for Ms Collins.  Five million pairs of eyes just rolled simultaneously: a politician – by definition – cannot be essential.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 612

Cases in ICU: 8

Number of deaths: –

So ended the thirteenth and fourteenth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

Stuff media: Covid-19 NZ – Delta outbreak sees 83 new cases, worst day of outbreak yet

RNZ: Covid-19 update –  83 new community cases reported in New Zealand        

RNZ: Cabinet considers tougher restrictions under Level 4

Twitter: @FoxyLustyGrover – stoically getting on with – 29/8/21

Twitter: @MariaSherwood2Are the media nitpicking – 26/8/21

RNZ: Covid-19 lockdown day 13 – How it unfolded

Twitter: @fmacskasy –  if our new positives drop further, I expect – 31/8/21

RNZ: Covid-19 update on 31 August – 49 new cases in the community

Additional

Other Blogs

Previous related blogposts

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 9 & 10

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 10 (cont’d) & 11

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 12

For Reference

Covid19.govt.nz: COVID-19 compliance

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Acknowledgement: (author unknown)

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 12

30 August 2021 6 comments

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29 August: Day 12 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 429

Cases in ICU:  2

Number of deaths: –

Not a work day, so I’ve stayed home. Housework to do, writing, and went to Pak N Save. A long queue outside, so decided to go back later when it’ll hopefully be quieter.

On Jim Mora’s Sunday Morning programme on RNZ, panellists Mike Williams and Linda Clark were a breath of sanity after the doom-merchants and lockdown critics we’ve been enduring for the last week. Listening to them both- especially Ms Clark – allowed some measure of composure after the gloomy cynicism much of  the MSM has been platforming and amplifying lately.

Ms Clark said, in part:

“I think comments by people like Scott Morrison, and other overseas commentators who various media outlets have chosen to publish in the last week, and some of our own commentators actually, are very critical of the New Zealand strategy because of their politics and not because of the science.

…If the New Zealand strategy works… if it works, people like Scott Morrison will have to speak up to their own population and explain why a whole lot of people needlessly died. Because that is the consequence of the so-called Plan B. And if you look at those countries overseas that are… cliche of the moment is living with it, ‘they’re living with it’, but a whole lot of people in their countries are dying with it. So… the number of deaths in countries like Australia, the UK, those numbers are as high now as they were in April… In the UK had 140 deaths yesterday or the day before; 1,200 deaths in the United States two days ago; and of course in New South Wales yesterday… more than a thousand cases.

So I think there’s a really deep and pretty cynical strand of politics around a lot of the criticism about New Zealand’s strategy.

Now you can criticise how it’s been implemented; it can be improved absolutely. I’m not arguing about that. But the politics of this is messy. Because as I said, the living with it strategy means that some people don’t. And you just have to look around you and think, “Ok if we lived with this, if let it in, if we give up like other countries have, I mean Boris Johnson just got bored with it, if we get bored with it and we want to do what Boris Johnson has done and what Scott Morrison is now talking about; which of us in our community are you willing to sacrifice”?

Is it nana? Is it grandad? Is it your aunty? I mean, actually, its not going to be just old people, because at the moment in Australia, in New South Wales hospitals there’s a whole lot of young people under the age of 9.

So, your nephew, your daughter, your son? That’s the question here.

And those columnists that are constantly on about this, just simply don’t want to face up to that. And added to that I put David Seymour who yesterday talked about the fact we we can’t eliminate any longer. Well we actually can stay with the strategy, and we are, and New Zealanders have a good sense of this and that’s why they’re following the rules, by and large.”

[Blogger’s note: some repetitive words and halted-speech have been omitted.]

I suspect she spoke for a great number of Team 5 Million, if not nearly all. It is abundantly clear; giving up means we allow people – young and old – to die.

Who get’s to draw the ‘short straw’?

This afternoon, took a call from one of my clients, “D”. He’s anxious and just needed a supportive voice. A few minutes of casual chit-chat and he’s fine. I confirm I’ll catch up with him at our appointed time tomorrow afternoon. “D” is reassured and sounds happy.

“D” is one of many New Zealanders with underlying conditions. It is doubtful he could survive Delta.

This evening, chatted with my partner. It’s now two weeks since we’ve seen each other: we have separate ‘bubbles’.  We share our weekly activities and discuss our respective ‘bubbles’, work, family. There is no grizzling; no complaining; it is unspoken what needs to be done.

Later tonight, went back to Pak n Save to buy a few groceries – including six rolls of toilet paper (I know, I’m such a hoarder!). Double masked and scanned in. Nearly everyone seemed to be scanning-in and wore masks – except, again, a woman in her mid-to-late-twenties. Not many people present; the aisles are relatively clear. Easy to maintain social distancing.

Just before I’m about to log off, I spot this article written by Stuff writer,

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It’s a great way to end the day and prepare for Monday.

Back to work in the new morning.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 511

Cases in ICU: 2

Number of deaths: –

So ended the twelfth day of our journey to beat this thing.

 

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References

Stuff media: Covid-19 outbreak situation report – What happened on Saturday, August 28

RNZ: Sunday Morning

RNZ: Sunday Morning – The Weekend Panel with Mike Williams and Linda Clark

Stuff media: During Covid, spare a thought for our leaders’ mental health

Stuff media: Covid-19 NZ – Delta outbreak sees 83 new cases, worst day of outbreak yet

RNZ: Covid-19 update –  83 new community cases reported in New Zealand

Previous related blogposts

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 9 & 10

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 10 (cont’d) & 11

For Reference

Covid19.govt.nz: COVID-19 compliance

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Acknowledgement: Emma Cook

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 10 (cont’d) & 11

29 August 2021 7 comments

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27 August: Day 10 of living in lock-down… (cont’d)

The park n ride at my local railway station had only two vehicles. As the lockdown proceeded, the number of parked cars became fewer and fewer.

The weather worsened. There would be few strollers and joggers, hopefully, out and about.

Traffic on the motorway around Lower Hutt; about half a dozen cars. Commercial vehicles were much in evidence, including a gas cylinder truck;  firewood truck with a covered full load; “Wellington Electric” truck carrying a power pole; gravel hauling truck; car-transporter carrying three vehicles; et al. Police presence on the roads was also noticeable.

On RNZ’s 9AM news bulletin, a story about a woman complaining bitterly that her Function Room business could not open whilst shopping malls were allowed. Not sure what Alternative Reality she’s from, but nearly all shops whether in Malls or not, are closed during Level 4. More entitlement.

At the Wellington Evans Bay Marina, there was on-going evidence that campervans and housetrucks were still moving about.

The first two appear to be staying put:

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26 August

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27 August

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26 August

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27 August

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27 August

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26 August

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27 August

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But it’s not all bad news. (We get sufficient amount of that from the msm and the hacks that are passed of as “informed commentators”.)

Building sites and roadworks, in the main, appeared to be adhering to lockdown more than any other commercial activities aside from retailing. Just a few from Wellington’s eastern suburbs:

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Miramar “Cutting” roadworks

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Building site, Rongotai Rd

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Building site, Evans Bay Pde

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Building site, Onepu Rd

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There were many more sites, left temporarily abandoned as builders and road workers respected the need to isolate and stay home.

By afternoon, the weather had turned drizzly, with a cold wind and heavy cloud. A few joggers braved the miserable, gray day on Oriental Bay but otherwise it was deserted.

The evening was busy, work-wise and I again missed listening to RNZ’s “Checkpoint” or television news bulletins. Again, my evening was less stressful not having to listen to whatever  nay-sayer “experts”;  business whingers; and political opportunists msm news-producers had scraped from the bottom of the news-cycle barrel.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 347

Cases in ICU: 1

Number of deaths: –

So ended the tenth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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28 August: Day 11 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 347

Cases in ICU:  1

Number of deaths: –

Morning started with usual; coffee; breakfast; coffee; and then settling down to watch Newshubs “The Nation“, hosted by TV3’s Head Prefect, Simon Shepherd.

When “The Nationstwitter feed announced “experts”:

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– a sense of unease struck me. Which self-interested business heads; ambitious political vultures; untrained commentators, had they lined up to spew their depressing “concerns”?

I was pleasantly surprised.

The show’s producers had indeed lined up real experts. Medical, sciencey; epidemiological – people who had spent years, if not decades, understanding the microscopic menace we faced.:

  • Professor Michael Plank
  • Professor Michael Baker
  • Professor Quentin Grafton

They were a pleasant contrast to the stream of bullshit we’ve been subjected to, from NewstalkZB (Aotearoa’s wannabe FoxTV); NZ Herald, to even the state-broadcaster, Radio NZ.

The latter has been indulging in a depressing orgy of scraping self-appointed “experts” and commentators from around Aotearoa New Zealand to overseas.:

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The above article was penned by Marc Daalder.  He is not described as a Health reporter:

“Marc Daalder is a senior political reporter based in Wellington who covers Covid-19, climate change, energy, primary industries, technology and the far-right”

The story itself is categorised under “Politics”.

Which begs the obvious question: why is a pandemic reported by a political journalist? Do we see Health reporters writing stories on the share market?

When did a medical-health crisis become political? (In the US, UK, Brazil, et al, covid has indeed become politicised – usually at the behest of the Right.)

I look forward to seeing a motoring journalist reporting on flower arrangement at the next flower-show. Or vice versa. Both are equally ridiculous.

Micky Savage writing for The Standard analysed some of the media stories and media response to criticisms made of material presented to the public. It is well worth reading.

He referred to Andrea Vance’s defensiveness in a recent story published for Stuff media where she complains bitterly how unfairly the public have been treating the msm and journos:

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Ms Vance is being disingenuous.

The criticisms of the mainstream media (msm) have, by and large, not been targetted at their scrutiny of the government. This blogger himself has written countless blogposts highly criticical of aspects of government MIQ policies.

The criticism from the public – which is  how she dismissively describes as “us vs them’ group think mentality” -has been largely focused on the media’s willingness to platform a pale-yellow stream of negative opinions framed as expert commentary. Every single day, we are presented with carping businesspeople and commentators, often from overseas, with little or no medical or science training.

The response of the public has been one of exasperation at this negativity. That negativity is a covert denigration of us and our willingness to temporarily sacrifice our liberty for the greater good. The platforming of nay-sayers in our media – especially from overseas where the horrifically high death toll from covid19 has been tragic – is undermining and pointless.

No one in the msm has yet explained what benefit we get when a professor from the United Kingdom – current death toll 132,376 – is platformed and given airtime to effectively suggest we’re all idiots for pursuing an elimination strategy.

That exasperation from the public is every bit  “freedom of expression” as she demands for herself and her colleagues.

The media do not get a free pass from the public’s scrutiny that the media themselves exact on politicians.

The propensity of non-commercial, public broadcaster, RNZ to platform negative opinions as faux “expert commentators” has been noticed on social media. The response has not been good for the  broadcaster, going by comments after this post I made:

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Other observations have been in a similar vein.

When RNZ has reported rational comments as from Dr Richard Webby – an infectious disease researcher working at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Tennessee, US – the headline was less than helpful – and more tabloid-flavour:

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At least it was in the “Health” category.

The medical experts on Saturday’s “Nation” was contrasted by the jarring comments by Westland mayor and possibly deranged individual, Bruce Smith. His bizarre comments raised a storm of angry criticism on social media.

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His remark that covid19 was “no worse than polio” would have been met with 5 million slippers thrown at the TV screen.

No doubt next time Mr Smith is feeling unwell, he will seek medical advice from his mortgage broker.

By contrast, the medically-trained and sane human being, Professor Quentin Grafton, had a very simple and coherent response to “Plan Bers” like Mr Smith:

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To repeat:

“… Living with the virus means dying with the virus.”

How lucky does Mr Smith and his ilk feel?

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By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 429

Cases in ICU: 2

Number of deaths: –

So ended the tenth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

Stuff media: Covid-19 – 70 new cases in Delta community outbreak, total now 347, one person in ICU

Twitter: The Nation – experts – 27 August 2021

RNZ: Covid-19 lockdown – Ardern struggles to give New Zealand certainty

Stuff media: If the Government is making the right decisions on Covid-19, it will withstand scruntiny

RNZ: Covid-19 – UK-based critic on New Zealand’s exit strategy

Worldmeter: UK Covid Death Toll

Twitter: @fmacskasy – RNZ – 28/8/21

Twitter: @nealejones – state of New Zealand’s media – 25/8/21

RNZ: Dr Richard Webby – ‘We’ll all catch Covid-19 eventually’

Newshub: Coronavirus – Westland Mayor Bruce Smith sick of hearing from health experts about COVID-19, wants business leaders to have more say

Twitter: @Tim_McCreadyBruce Smith10.23AM  28/8/21

Newshub: Coronavirus – What 59 essential workers testing positive means for elimination

Stuff media: Covid-19 outbreak situation report – What happened on Saturday, August 28

Additional

Gizmodo: New Zealand Pursues Covid-Zero as Right-Wing Idiots Lose Their Minds

Other Blogs

The Standard: Covid and the media

Previous related blogposts

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 9 & 10

For Reference

Covid19.govt.nz: COVID-19 compliance

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Acknowledgement: Tom Scott

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 9 & 10

27 August 2021 8 comments

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26 August: Day 9 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 210

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

A fine day, cloudy but warm. 

Five cars at the railway station park and ride. Traffic seemed lighter than previous days, with about six to eight vehicles in sight at the Melling interchange.

There will be no further listing of branded commercial vehicles. Previous blogposts have given a ‘flavour’ of the wide-range of commercial and public service vehicles that were traversing the main roads from Hutt Valley to Wellington.

However, spotted were three firewood trucks (one branded “Chopps”) and two gas-cylinder trucks; a small campervan heading northalong SH2 north of  Ngauranga Gorge interchange;  a car transporter (not carrying any cars) flat-deck truck; a tow truck towing one car and carrying a second on its deck; a Fulton Hogan light-arrow truck with usual cargo of orange road-cones; and a couple of police cars.

The sighting of police cars is noteworthy. Last year’s lockdown was notable for the near-total absence of police vehicles on our Wellington-Hutt Valley roads. This time they appear to be out in force.

It is unclear if their focus is on speedsters and issuing infringement notices, or perhaps more critically, monitoring potential breaches of the lockdown.

By 10AM the weather had turned inclement. A good sign to keep folk away (hopefully) from popular public walkways along the harbour front.

Meanwhile, activity continued to be apparent at Evans Bay marina carpark. Campervans were obviously coming and going, or moving about and returning to different parking spotspots, as the following images demonstrate.

Comparing 20 August with today, six days later later:

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20 August

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26 August

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20 August

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Let’s hope none of these travellers spread Delta as they are moving about. For these folk, it seems to be life-as-usual.

I recommend educating these folk on Delta Covid. If that fails, wheel clamps.

With pressures of work well into the evening I missed listening to RNZ’s “Checkpoint” and haven’t watched recorded episodes of TV1 or TV3 news bulletins. Surprisingly, my head seemed clearer and calmer.

Not listening to a torrent of “news” stories comprising of whining entitlement from businesses having to close; so-called “experts” who decry the government’s  and people’s efforts to stop the spread of Delta; and Opposition politicians who have their own agendas – I think I’ll sleep well tonight.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 277

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

So ended the ninth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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27 August: Day 10 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 277

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

A good night’s sleep. Woke up to an overcast day and starting to drizzle.

Sadly, the positive mind-set didn’t last long.

RNZ’s “Morning Report” featured two stories, one after another:

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The first story, at 8.43AM, featured Susie Ferguson interviewing clinical psychologist, Karen Nimmo on the stresses and anxiety people were feeling during the current lockdown.

Cited as reasons were:

“…it’s mid-winter”

“…the novelty factor has been stripped out”

“…we’ve got uncertainty”

“…the same old thing”

“…feeling flat”

“…feeling fatigued”

“…people jammed together in flats”

“…not warm flats”

“…boredom”

“…pressure cooker with flatmates and kids”

“…lonely”

I wasn’t entirely convinced.

Lo and behold, the reason why I wasn’t convinced came approximately a few minutes later. 

Ms Ferguson was followed by her colleague, Corin Dann interviewing Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine from the UK University of East Anglia.

It was another critic of Aotearoa New Zealand’s strategy to eradicate and keep covid19 from our shores. The five minute 38 seconds long interview was a confusing, incoherent mess of poorly-thought through “reckons” by a supposed foreign “expert.

Questions abound as to why RNZ thought it worthwhile to interview this man.

I listened to him. I pondered his answers to Mr Dann’s probing questions. I considered what point he was trying to make.

I still cannot fathom what he was trying to say. Because at the end of the interview, Professor Hunter then finished by endorsing our elimination strategy:

“Yes, carry on at the moment trying to stop it spreading.”

Which leaves unanswered questions about who, at RNZ, thought it was a good idea to platform this person?

What was the point of yet more criticism and undermining of our eradication policy?

What did RNZ hope that listeners would learn?

How did it help us?

How did it further our collective efforts to contain and remove this deadly virus from our midst and save many lives?

What was the purpose of it?

And how many more of the thousands of nay-sayers and self-appointed experts has RNZ lined up to beat us over our collective head with?

If anyone at RNZ can offer even a wee glimmer of light on the rationale for this depressing interview, I will be fascinated to know it.

I will send my questions to RNZ and hope for an answer.

But in answer to Dr Nimmo, she left out one of the culprits for stresses and anxieties which some (or many) of us in Team 5 Million may be feeling:

“…a constant mainstream media diet of debilitating “news” and “reckons” which belittles and undermines our resolve and leave us wondering if our efforts are actually really worthwhile”

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By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 347

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

So ended the tenth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

TVNZ: Covid community cases reach 210, most in Auckland

RNZ: Covid-19 lockdown day 9 – How it unfolded

RNZ: Covid-19 – Clinical pyschologist on getting through lockdown

RNZ: Covid-19 – UK-based critic on New Zealand’s exit strategy

Twitter: Neale Jones – state of New Zealand’s media – 25/8/21

RNZ: Covid-19 update – 70 new community cases reported in NZ today

Additional

Gizmodo: New Zealand Pursues Covid-Zero as Right-Wing Idiots Lose Their Minds

Other Blogs

The Standard: The mysterious socialist hermit kingdom

Previous related blogposts

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8

For Reference

Covid19.govt.nz: COVID-19 compliance

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Acknowledgement: Sharon Murdoch (ft National Party)

Liked what you read? Feel free to share.

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 7 & 8

25 August 2021 9 comments

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24 August: Day 7 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 107

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

A cool,  grey, overcast, morning. This is a good start. Unpleasant weather deters people from taking strolls along crowded, popular walkways such as Oriental Bay Parade. As mentioned in previous diary entries, most do not wear facemasks and joggers run past pedestrians, breathing hard all about them.

The possibility that one of these is carrying Delta, running through unmasked strollers puffing virus with each laboured breath, does not bear thinking about. The inescapable irony; a healthy activity that could land many people in hospital…

At my local urban park n ride railway station there are three cars parked. Yesterday there were four.

It is deathly quiet. No wind, very little traffic around my streets.

But noticeable on the main roads are plenty of commercial vehicles. Just some spotted; “Intergroup” street-sweeping truck; “Bidfoods” truck parked by a Dairy; “Wellington SCL” van; “Newshub” stationwagon parked on SH2 roadside; “Greater Wellington Regional Council” ute; a gravel-haulage truck; “Noel Leeming” truck; “Drain Doctor” van; “Arb Innovations” ute; “Global Welding Supplies” hatchback; red “NZ Courier” van; “Waste Management” soft-sided truck; a glaziers van; “Bidfresh” soft-sided light truck; a ute marked “Filtec”; “Crown Lift” truck; “PBT” courier van; “Coca Cola” soft-sided truck; a firewood light truck; “Mainfreight” double tandem heavy truck; a large heavy flat-deck truck, empty; an “Owens” truck bearing a container; a “Downer” van; “Waste Management” truck; green “Toll” van; two green gravel-haulage trucks; “Pacific” fuel tanker truck; “Morepork” truck carrying a light ‘bobcat’ digger; “NZ Couriers” heavy truck; van marked “Proflow Plumbing and Gas Solutions”; “PBT” courier van; “Mainstream” soft-sided truck; “Jets” soft-sided truck; white van marked “High Rise”; black SUV marked “One News”; van marked “Plumbing World”; light truck, “Service Foods”; ute marked “kiwirail”; black ute, “Chill”; black hatchback, “Spark”; soft-sided truck, “Booths Transport Ltd”; ute, “Jennian”; van, “Wasabe Group”; van, “Chorus; two “Coundown” food delivery trucks; et al.

There were many other commercial vehicles whose markings could not be easily determined. The list above is perhaps a quarter  of commercial vehicles sighted.

The two heavy diggers spotted over the last few days, and reported on yesterday were operating:

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Their support vehicles parked nearby:

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Despite considerable commercial vehicles present, traffic volumes on SH2 was light, around three to four vehicles at any one time. Traffic density increased approaching Melling Interchange, with around a dozen vehicles present at Belmont/Kelson.

By Petone, the over-cast skies had become a light drizzle with temperature cooling.

At the automated BP Fuel station on SH2, workmen and heavy commercial vehicles were again operating today.

Around the northern suburbs, it began to rain heavily by mid-morning and the weather had become colder. This would hopefully motivate people to stay home and not cluster at popular walkways.

In the late evening, there were roadworks just south of the automated BP Fuel station on SH2, in the northbound lane. A crew comprising of three light-arrow trucks; some other heavy vehicles, and workmen on-site. Nothing quite says banal normality during a deadly pandemic crisis than roadworks.

The day finished on a jarring note.

Not the pandemic. Not the grim news that there were 41 new covid cases today.

Not that our cuzzies in New South Wales had another terrible day of increased covid numbers.

These were indeed bad news stories.  But the thing that was depressing came from our own media.

Mainstream media had finally ramped up it’s stories from carping quarters.

Radio NZ’s “Checkpoint” led off with an interview with serial-whinger and business-at-any-cost lobbyist, Auckland Chamber of Commerce CEO, Michael Barnett.

Unchallenged by host, Lisa Owen, the two carried on a five-minute long moan as to why supermarkets were allowed to operate but butchers, greengrocers, bottlestores, et al, were forced to close. It was a frustrating example of child-like entitlement and neither understood the crisis that New South Wales was now in because retailers were allowed to open at will.

For Barnett, it was a simplistic situation where he suggested:

“I think that’s to hard to define… I think what you should do is give me the conditions under which I can operate. And if I can operate a butchery, or bakery, or a supermarket under those conditions then I should be able to do it. If I can do it, I can do it one on one and contactless, and if that’s the rule, that’s what I should be able to do.”

When Ms Owen asked Barnett to define safety parameters, he replied glibly:

“Absolutely, It’s health and safety. We’ve got to comply with that. Set those parameters, set the conditions which I can operate, should operate, and let me comply with that. Business is very good at doing that.”

He continued his rant:

“That’s the stupidity of the system that they’ve [government] got.”

At no point did either of them bring up the dire situation that New South Wales was in. The Australian state has failed to contain covid and the numbers of new cases each day are staggering:

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In case anyone was wondering what the differences was between New Zealand and New South Wales, these are the retailers allowed to be open during respective lockdowns:

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So New South Wales has followed Michael Barnett’s demands. Almost every retailer is open to trade. Their covid cases have exploded as well.

To date, the death toll for New South Wales is 128. For Victoria, the death toll is 820. For Australia, the combined death toll is:

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984

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Ours remains at 26.

Remember Barnett’s assertion:

“If I can do it, I can do it one on one and contactless, and if that’s the rule, that’s what I should be able to do… Set those parameters, set the conditions which I can operate, should operate, and let me comply with that. Business is very good at doing that.”

Retail Meat New Zealand spokesperson, Kit Arkwright, also echoed Barnett’s demands to open up retailing:

“If we could provide click and collect at our front door on the high street like most butchers are placed, I think that would be a pretty practical step in the right direction.

An eftpos machine at the front door and an open environment on the high street I can’t see to many risks there.”

But other businesses have disclosed they cannot ensure public safety. On compulsory QR scanning, Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) spokesperson Alan McDonald was explicit:

“If you make it compulsory then that implies somebody has go to enforce this thing and if you’re looking at particularly small businesses … that’s putting a lot of onus on the owner or people running the store to perhaps front somebody who doesn’t necessarily want to scan in.”

And Retail NZ chief executive, Greg Harford was equally clear:

“It’s not a retailer’s job to be enforcing the rules, whether it’s contact tracing or mask use – it’s just really not what we’re there for, and I think you get pretty good levels of compliance from the public on these sorts of things anyway.”

So much for Barnett’s glib and meaningless assurances that “business is very good at doing that.”

To be clear, Barnett is advocating nothing more than “all-care-but-no-responsibility”. And no responsibility for inevitable deaths should we follow his lunatic demands.

The man’s sole motive is money, not keeping people alive.

And shame on RNZ, “Checkpoint“, and other mainstream media for platforming him without robustly challenging him and exploring the consequences of his demands.

There was more whinging and demands for “certainty” and “clarity” from the South Island – again helpfully platformed and amplified by a mainstream media eager for clicks.

Sadly, the juvenile whingefest on RNZ was not alone. TV1 News today led with not one; not; two, but three noisy critics with their own agendas. Let us be crystal clear: those agendas are not focused on our well-being.

The constant flow of carping is not a matter of “free speech”. Aotearoa New Zealand is facing a deadly pandemic that, to date, has killed 4.44 million people world-wide (certainly an under-reported figure); flooded hospitals with covid patients; created a syndrome of on-going suffering called “Long Covid”; and dragged away resources from other healthcare priorities.

To defeat covid, all New Zealanders must work collectively.  The alternative is clear for us to see in India, Brazil, United States, Britain, Fiji, and closer to home, Australia.

The discordant voices from business lobbyists concerned with their profit-taking or Opposition party-leaders (yes, Ms Collins and Mr Seymour, I’m referring to you both) vying for votes, distracts us from what should be our collective responsibilities to help one another.

We should all be pulling in the same direction. But when noisy business people and ambitious, irresponsible, political leaders appear to be pulling in opposing directions, it becomes apparent that the virus has allies – or “useful idiots” –  in our midst.

For the rest of the week, I will be reducing watching or listening to mainstream media.  Yes, that includes RNZ’s “Checkpoint” and possibly “Morning Report“. Too much amplified crazy bleating during a global disaster just does one’s head in.

And as a community worker, I want my head clear to focus on my clients. Not with the clamourings of business-sotted death-merchants and those aspiring to be the next Prime Minister.

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By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 148

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

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25 August: Day 8 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 148

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

Another fine day, cool, breezy, but sunny. Just when we needed it the most, the stormy weather that battered the country the last couple of months seems to have subsided.

Four cars only at the local park n ride railway station.

Road traffic seemed decidedly heavier than the last few days. Noticed on the roads; a “Driving Miss Daisy” hatchback; a ute towing a trailer filled with cut firewood; ute marked “Plimmer Plumbing; white van marked “KPC Laundry Hire Services”; “Downer”; “X Couriers”; a high-sided open truck carrying a full load of cut firewood; “Fliway” truck; gray van, “Patch and Paint”; “Eurofins” marked SUV; gravel-hauling truck, “Downer”; gray ute, “Gemco”; white van marked “Bottle-O – Stokes Valley”; a police car racing north with flashing lights; another firewood-laden truck; “KAMS” large soft-sided truck; white van, “Initial”; “K&M” truck carrying a container; glass-glazing truck; “Fliway” truck; “Kiwirail” ute; “Envirowaste” truck; gray “Poste Haste” van; a truck carrying gas cylinders; a ute at the side of the road, “John Everiss”; a container-laden truck, “PBT”; a soft-sided truck, “Owens”; heavy truck, “Big Chill Distributors”; heavy truck, “Goodman Fielder”; a rental van, “Budget”; a van, “Jones Services”; a soft-sided, double-tandem truck, “Mainstream”; a rental van, “Hirepool”; double-tandem truck, “Toll”; yellow van, “Abe’s Bagels”; white van, “AEL Electrical”; truck, “Fliway”; “Downer” roadworks truck, laden with ubiquitous orange road cones; “Newshub” ute; two black cars, “Recon Security”; ute marked “Treescape”; police car parked-up by Jville “McDonalds”, on the round-a-bout; truck, “Ablaze Landscaping”; dumpster truck, “Downer”; truck, “WheelieBin”; truck, “New World”; car-transporter laden with three cars; truck, “K&M”; another police car with flashing lights; soft-sided truck truck, “Pak N Save”;  van, “Chorus”; van, “A to Z Flooring”; “Bidfood” truck; “Rinnai Service” van; “New World” truck; “Apparel Line” truck; police car, flashing lights, heading south on SH2; empty stock-truck; “L.G. Anderson” truck; another “L.G. Anderson” truck, laden with a container; flat-deck ute, “Aurora”; a suction-tanker truck marked “Southey’s Hydro Excavation”; an ambulance; another police car; another ambulance; a “Poste Haste” van; flat-deck truck, “Zoo”; truck, “Groundworks”; “K&M” truck; trucked marked “Firewood” (in very large letters!) with a large, full load; van, “JMAC”; van marked “Tungsten Electrical”; green van, “Toll”; truck carrying a digger, “Treescape”; black van, “Blackwell Plumbing”; van marked “Bottle-O”; car, “SCL Wellington”; van, “Chorus”; van, “Battery Service”; van marked “ABS”; truck, “Bidfood”; truck, “Jets”; double tandem truck, “Mainfreight”; truck laden with orange roadcones, marked “Hirepool”; van, “Postehaste”; van bearing “Streets” ice cream advertising; an ambulance; flat-deck truck marked “AA Vehicle Recovery”; tanker truck, “Northfuels”; et al.

As mentioned previously, there were many other commercial vehicles whose markings could not be easily determined. The list above is indicative only.

Commercial and residential traffic this late-morning was decidedly heavier than at any time since lockdown began. Without knowing that Delta was currently present in Aotearoa New Zealand, the level of commercial traffic on the roads certainly did not reflect our current emergency.

This blogger counted at least a dozen vehicles visible in the vicinity of SH58 interchange.

Riverbed work on the Hutt River was continuing unabated;

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Stopped at Melling red traffic lights, there were four vehicle in front and adjacent to me: all commercial.

Work had ceased at the automated BP service station south of Petone; all vehicles and workers had gone.

Two businesses appeared to be open to the public and trading:

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After some navigating around government ministeries and a phone call to a very helpful (and delightful!) operator, I was directed to the appropriate covid19 website to lodge a query/compliance compaint to investigate these two businesses.

It’s not a lockdown if people and businesses aren’t complying. Delta covid appreciates helpful people who take the piss.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 210

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

So ended the seventh and eighth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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Meanwhile, in an unfortunate juxtaposition of names, the singer vs the virus…

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References

RNZ: Live – Covid-19 updates on day 6 of lockdown

Newshub: New South Wales records staggering 478 local COVID-19 cases, eight deaths

RNZ: Covid-19 in NSW – State records 830 new cases

Newshub: COVID-19 – New South Wales records 818 new local community cases, three deaths

9News: NSW records 753 cases

9News: NSW records 919 new COVID-19 cases as state awaits incentives reveal

RNZ: Michael Barnett criticises essential business criteria

Stuff media: How New Zealand’s level 4 compares to NSW’s ‘strict’ Covid-19 lockdown

RNZ: Retail Meat NZ fears some butchers won’t survive extended lockdown

Stuff media: Covid-19 – QR code scanning too difficult for businesses to enforce if mandated – EMA

RNZ: South Island businesses want clarity over lockdown duration

Newsroom: The complexities of a ‘mask mandate’

RNZ:  As it happened – Covid-19 updates on day 7 of lockdown – everything you need to know

Newshub: Coronavirus – Judith Collins won’t say how many COVID-19 deaths would be ‘acceptable’ number to live with

TVNZ: Extended lockdown hurting struggling events industry

Twitter: Neale Jones – state of New Zealand’s media – 25/8/21

Covid19.govt.nz: COVID-19 compliance

TVNZ: Covid community cases reach 210, most in Auckland

Additional

TVNZ: New Covid modelling reveals grim prospects if vaccination rate is not 90%

TVNZ: Michael Baker – Covid elimination strategy allows NZ to ‘choose our future’

Other Blogs

Pundit: The Lucky Lockdown? Is This The Kick In The Butt NZ Needs?

Previous related blogposts

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6

For Reference

Covid19.govt.nz: COVID-19 compliance

 

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Acknowledgement: Peter Bromhead

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 5 & 6

24 August 2021 10 comments

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22 August: Day 5 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 51

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

Another day spent at home.

Morning; breakfast of low-sugar muesli and watch the eternally-young, but deceptively-capable Jack Tame on Q+A. First interviews Chris Hipkins who makes comments almost suggesting we will have to “live with covid19” at some time. The comments set of a flurry of media and social media speculation.

Jack Tame suggests we might’ve offered a “premium” to pharmaceutical companies to acquire their vaccines. Chris Hipkins replies that government has never offered a premium to jump the queue.

Rightly so. The suggestion is repellent. I would want no part of it.

And on a practical level, we’d be outbid every time by countries wealthier than us. In a “rule of the jungle”, Aotearoa New Zealand would lose every time.

Tampa survivor  and refugee from Afghanistan, Abbas Nazari, is interviewed. Mr Nazari is incredibly personable and articulate. There is something incredibly compelling about his insights. I can’t help but wonder if, in an Alternative Universe, he might’ve been a natural leader in his country of birth.

He is Afghanistan’s deepest loss and Aotearoa’s gain.

After Q+A I don’t go out. No groceries are needed (I don’t do the toilet paper hoarding thing) and there’s plenty to do around the house.

Listening to RNZ as I catch up on things I’ve been planning to do; assemble shelving for memorabilia displays; repairing items in my “breakages box” that I’ve been meaning to get around to for a while; strip bed; laundry; give cat cuddles; vacuum; change kitty-litter; dusting… the day fills with tasks I’ve no excuses to not do.

In the early evening; dinner; phone my work colleagues regarding rostered shifts and maintaining work ‘bubbles’. My throat has developed a minor soreness that becomes more noticeable as I’m chatting with my colleague. The soreness subsides later that night. Troubling…

I watch “One Land Bridge“, noting the weirdness that is so redolent of David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks“.

I chat with my partner on the phone and we share our weekend experiences. We have separate ‘bubbles’ because of my community work and extended ‘bubble’ that goes with it.

I’m feeling unusually tired and go to bed after chatting with my partner. Work tomorrow and I start early for a long day.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 72

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

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23 August: Day 6 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 72

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

I wake up feeling like crap. Fuzzy headed and lethargic. I have breakfast, shower, and prepare for work. I wait for the unwellness to subside.

Driving down along SH2, known informally as the “River Road”, I park my car by the roadside. Nearby, there are workers on two massive diggers with flashing yellow “alert” lights in the middle of the river and pushed-up mounds of rock.

I still don’t feel better. I phone the covid line (0800 358 5453). It’s not much help, I can’t get through. I phone the Healthline (0800 611 116) and I’m answered promptly. I relate my symptoms to the person on the line; she takes down my details; advises me a nurse will get back to me shortly. I thank her.

I hang up. My attention is drawn back to the men on the diggers. Should they be operating during a Level 4 lockdown? How is river works essential?

The number of commercial vehicles on the River Road is noticeable. If Delta spreads, businesses that continue to operate may likely be spreaders of this virus. Their occupants appear to travel widely throughout the Wellington region.

I take several photos with my smartphone.

First, an all-but-deserted SH2 River Road. There are no more than half a dozen vehicle on the road at any one time:

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The two diggers, atop mounds of re-arranged river rock:

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Do I carry on to work? Should I even be on the road?

I start my car and head south along SH2. The SH58 interchange comes into view and I make an immediate decision; head up the interchange on-ramp; veer right around the the roundabout and head back north. I’m going home. I shouldn’t’ve left my house in the first place; my thinking is that fuzzy.

Back home I phone and advise my manager.

The nurse phones me back later. She ‘interrogates’ my symptoms. I ask if I need covid testing. She replies; not at this stage, but if my condition worsens I’m to get down to a testing station. She advises rest, plenty of fluids, and paracetamol if I have it. I thank her for her help.

I take the paracetamol tablets, noting I need to buy more. Sleep.

A little later, waking, my head is clearer than before. Still a bit fuzzy, but not as bad as before. I phone Greater Wellington Regional Council, intrigued at the riverwork I’ve been witnessing on Friday and today. The receptionist take my details, and promises someone will call me back.

True to their work, “M.B.” phones me back from GWRC.

M.B. advises that the river work has been designated as “essential” and that it is permitted activity. He says the shifting of rock is necessary to “defend” river banks that’ve been scoured out by torrential flow after recent heavy rains. Riverbank walkways are threatened with collapse if left un-remediated.

M.B. explains the work was stalled last week because of more heavy rain – hence why work men were not on scene until last Friday.

M.B. reassures me that the workers are in their own “work bubble” and not interacting with the public.  Similar work is also being carried out further south at Pōmare, where river bank scouring has exposed (or threatening to expose) gas pipes. (Question: who builds gas pipes so close to a river?!) “Essential work” is also planned for Moonshine Park, along the river bank. Another riverbank walkway is also threatened.

I thank M.B. for returning my call and offering answers to my questions.

I’m still a bit fuzzy-headed and don’t question M.B. any further.

However, if river works are “essential work”, other businesses may reasonably question why they are missing out and not deemed “essential” as well.

Let’s hope M.B. is reflecting an accurate picture and the workers are keeping to a strict work bubble. A collapsed walkway can be repaired. Lives damaged by Delta Covid, not so easily.

Later in the night, I’m feeling better. If this was nothing more than a head cold, it was the first one since August last year.

But not surprising. The flutracker website has reported a recent upsurge in flulike symptoms:

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A reminder that covid19 isn’t the only virus floating around, waiting to ‘hitch a ride’ in our warm breeding grounds that we call our bodies.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 107

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

So ended the fifth and sixth days of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

RNZ: Covid-19 update – 21 new community cases in New Zealand today

RNZ: Covid-19 lockdown day 5 – How it unfolded

TVNZ: Q+A – Aucklanders told to prepare for more time in lockdown

TVNZ: Q+A – Tampa survivor on why New Zealand must again open doors to Afghanistan refugees

Flutracker: Weekly Interim Report New Zealand

RNZ: Live – Covid-19 updates on day 6 of lockdown

Twitter: Richard Hills – Ardern won’t regret helping save thousands of lives

Recommended Reading

The Guardian: The Covid crisis suits rightwing media personalities as they monetise fear

Additional

Wikipedia: COVID-19 pandemic death rates by country

Other blogs

The Standard: Matt King caught blowing anti vaccination dog whistle

Previous related blogposts    

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

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Acknowledgement: Rod Emmerson

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 4 – Caretaker Leader Collins, another rare mis-step

21 August 2021 13 comments

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21 August: Day 4 of living in lock-down…

No report from this blogger of what has been happening around the Wellington region. Being a day off, I am staying at home. Plenty of housework and reading to catch up on.

Meanwhile…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 31

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

Today’s Eyebrow-Raiser.

Caretaker Leader Judith Collins on pointless sniping from the sidelines

“I think we’re very wise to sit back and wait a little while before we go charging into full Opposition mode.

I think one of the problems we have is if people see us as constantly sniping away from the sidelines and not putting up very good policies… then we’ll go the way of traditional Opposition which is further down, and that’s not something we want to do.”

Also Caretaker Leader Judith Collins, on the sidelines

“We are in lockdown because the government did not act with urgency to protect New Zealanders. Their complacency and inability to ensure supply and delivery of the vaccine roll-out has left New Zealanders as sitting ducks; completely vulnerable to the Delta variant when it inevitably got into the community.

It is not enough for the prime minister to lock us in our homes and speak from the podium once a day. New Zealanders don’t need sermons, we need vaccines in arms right now.”

She just can’t help herself.

At a time when we are facing an even worse crisis with a vastly more transmissable mutation of covid – the Delta Strain – the nation needs calm leadership. Sniping from the sidelines is a distraction already-stressed New Zealanders will not welcome, nor thank.

Let’s not forget that the Delta Strain came from Sydney.

Let’s not forget who put pressure on the government to open a Trans Tasman “bubble” with a petition.

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Let’s not forget who seems to have conveniently forgotten that petition.

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She got what she wanted. The consequences were inevitable. Now she’s sniping from the sidelines the government isn’t cleaning up the mess she – in part – is responsible for.

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#CaretakerLeaderCollins

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By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 51

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

So ended the fourth day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

RNZ: Covid-19 update – 11 new cases in the community, including three in Wellington

Newshub: Judith Collins wants National to avoid ‘constantly sniping away from the sidelines’ as it rebuilds

RNZ: Covid-19 – National criticises government’s handling of latest outbreak

Newsroom: Sydney returnee likely source of Covid outbreak

National Party: Sign the Trans Tasman bubble petition

Twitter: Judith Collins – Trans Tasman Bubble Petition

RNZ: Covid-19 update – 21 new community cases in New Zealand today

Previous related blogposts

National: Demand the Debate. Also National: No, not like that!

Judith Collins and National: It’s a trust thing

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cartoon judith collins

Acknowledgment: Sharon Murdoch

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 3

21 August 2021 13 comments

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20 August: Day 3 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 22

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

The day began sunny and near-cloudless sky. It was warming up. Not good, I thought with dread: fine days bring out the people for casual strolls on the beachfront; joggers; bike riders, dog walkers; et al. Most without face-masks, judging by yesterday’s observations on Oriental and Evans Bays.

By late morning, the sky filled with gray clouds; the temperature plummeted; and it began spitting with rain.

Perversely, my spirit lifted. People were less inclined to wander out and about in bad weather and – hopefully – would instead remain home.

The drive into Wellington to begin my work-day confirmed that the weather was worsening; the gentle ‘spit’ became a light drizzle.

There were fewer cars parked at the local railway station park-n-ride – only five today. In my immediate urban area there were even fewer cars on the road than yesterday. It was resembling last year’s lockdown.

On the highway I observed trucks marked PBT, “Lowcost Bins”; van marked “The Drain Doctor”; an “Armourguard” van; “Waste Management” jumbo-bin truck (unladen); “Postehaste” courier van; white van marked “Precision”; a light-truck carrying gas cylinders; a van marked “HydrauLink”; van marked “Initial”; a “Moore Wilsons” truck; another “Waste Management” truck; a ute marked “Groundforce”; a “Hirepool” truck, with driver and passenger, parked up at Belmont, carrying a portacom toilet; a “L.G. Anderson” marked truck; a yellow soft-sided truck (“Pak n Save”?)’; an unladen flat deck truck with a hi-ab; a soft-side truck marked “Countdown”;  a “Mitre 10 – Crofton Downs” truck carrying building materials; another “L.G. Anderson” flat-deck truck carrying a container; an ambulance; “Hirepool” truck; glaziers van; a “Traffic Management” truck; “Envirowaste” truck; “Waste Management” truck; “Provida Refrigerated Logistics” truck; “Kiwi Express” courier van; “L.G. Andrerson” flat deck truck, empty; “Dixon Dunlop” gravel truck, apparently empty; a police ute just north of Wellington; a “Toll” marked truck; “Dawson’s Waste” Pumping truck; two utes marked “Vertex”, carrying scaffold gear; a “Linfox” tanker;  “Onestop Plumbing & Gas” van (parked up); another police car in Miramar;  and many more which this blogger could not determine their company markings.

There was rock-dredging taking place in the Hutt River adjacent to SH2 “River Road” by two heavy digging-machines. Operations to rearrange the river-bed seemed to have returned to “normal” during an abnormal period. Has the Wellington Regional Council sanctioned this work?

By Melling, traffic was still light; lighter than the last few days.

At the automated BP Service station, on SH2 north of Ngauranga, there were workmen present again with several heavy vehicles.  Whatever work they were engaged in seemed unaffected by the nationwide lockdown order.

Out in the harbour, the freighter from yesterday was still anchored out in the choppy waters:

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One couldn’t but feel sympathy for the hapless crew aboard the ship:

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In Wellington City, few pedestrians wore face masks. But positively, there were even fewer people wandering along Oriental Bay Parade.

Update on the Marquee this blogger witnessed being erected/dismantled outside Te Papa Museum, in Cable Street yesterday:

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The Marquee had been put up. And it’s use was obvious:

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Unlike some of the commercial-construction activity this blogger was witnessing, this work was very much essential. A new covid-testing station in the city.  Just in time, for the terrible news that was just starting to break:

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Meanwhile, in the nearby Te Papa carpark,  three campervans were parked up. It remains to be seen if they will be present on Monday morning:

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At the Evans Bay Marina Campervan park, vehicles were still apparently coming and going, despite the lockdown.

At the eastern end:

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Compared to yesterday (right) with today (left):

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At the southern end:

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Compared to yesterday (right) with today (left):

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At the northern end:

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Compared to yesterday (right) with today (left):

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Parked up roadside:

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There was no change above from the image taken yesterday.

The reason this matters is not a campervan version of “trainspotting”. If these vehicles are are no longer parked-up, but are mobile, then they potentially become super-spreaders.

As the Wellingtonian who returned by car to Wellington, driving from Auckland:

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One campervan laden with occupants could easily spread the virus throughout the north island.

On 21 August, this blogger reported one of several vehicles on the motorway:

“South of Ngauranga, a white campervan was heading north. Another person taking the opportunity to treat lockdown as a personal opportunity for impromptu holiday-time?”

Where were they heading?

They are a potential, dangerous vector for spread no one has considered.

Tonight, a campervan owner at the Marina told this blogger that the Wellington City Council had lifted the 4-day maximum parking limit for vehicles during the covid emergency. There is therefore no valid justification for campervan owners to be moving around and flouting the lockdown.

Police have been notified.

Throughout the day, this blogger had occasion to visit two ‘Pak n Save’ supermarkets; one work-related on behalf of a client; the other personal. Neither were pleasant experiences.

Though supermarket staff did their best to limit numbers entering the store, the two-metre distancing rule is impossible to practice. The aisles are simply not wide enough and customers often pass each other well within a metre.

However, mask wearing was near universal. Only three customers were spotted; one with his mask slipped down; another without a mask, and wearing only a scarf which had slipped down around his neck; and a woman who responded that she “had an exemption“.

Did she also have an exemption from the Delta Covid? She didn’t say.

But they were only three of several hundred this blogger witnessed.

People entering the stores were assiduously scanning QR codes.

Dodging the Bullet – a personal note

The Ministry of Health released a list of locations of interest where covid-infected Wellingtonians, returning from Auckland, had been in the last few days.

The locations included places in suburbs around Wellington:

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As this blogger read through the list, my heart sank. Two places on Wednesday 18 August, in Johnsonville, were on a day I visit a client. The times coincided when I accompany them through Johnsonville.

Could it be that we had crossed paths with this infected  person? I could have passed him on the footpath and breathed in as he exhaled. Delta Covid is that infectious.

I felt sick in my gut.

I quickly grabbed my work diary. Checking the appointments, I found my client’s entry.

It had been crossed off.

I had been reassigned to Miramar clients instead. This was dodging the bullet on a personal level.  By reassigning me, my Manager may have inadvertently saved me and my client from becoming two more statistics.

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 31

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

So ended the third day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

RNZ: North Shore Hospital patient tests positive for Covid-19, emergency department closes

NZ Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus Delta outbreak – Everything we know so far about Wellington cases

NZ Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus Delta outbreak – Two cities, one cluster; North Island cases grow

NZ Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus Delta outbreak – Locations of interest pass 190 – yet more expected

RNZ: Covid-19 update – 11 new cases in the community, including three in Wellington

Additional

Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MoBIE): Workplace operations at COVID-19 alert levels – Guidance for businesses at Alert Levels 2, 3 and 4

RNZ: Daily cheer – Social media content from lockdown day 3

Previous related blogposts

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2

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Acknowledgement: Sharon Murdoch

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 2 – REVISED

20 August 2021 14 comments

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19 August: Day 2 of living in lock-down…

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 10

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

Traffic today seemed marginally lighter than yesterday, with not as many obvious “tradies” on the road. The nearby railway station park-n-ride had the same number of cars as yesterday (around half a dozen).

It was a much brighter, sunnier day than yesterday and people were out and about in my suburb walking with family and dogs. Mask-wearing was not much evident.

On SH2 “River Road”, traffic was lighter than yesterday, about 6 or 8 cars visible at any time. Unlike yesterday most of the vehicles were domestic rather than commercial.

Commercial vehicles sighted; two “Traffic Management” light-arrow trucks, complete with dozens of orange cones; a “Crest Clean” van; “Silbury Roofing” ute; “First Security” hatchback; “Waste Management” truck; “Apparel Line NZ Ltd”; ute marked “Hunt”; a ute towing a bobcat; “Posthaste” courier van; a police car; “NZ Post” courier; van marked “Flooring Design”; van marked “Wellington Waterways”; container truck; a ute marked “Site Care”; a flat-deck truck carrying an over-size tractor; van marked “Chorus”; a drain-cleaning light truck; SUV marked “Collective First National” real estate; a gravel bearing truck marked “Horokiwi”; a tow-wagon carrying a ute; vabn marked “Marshall Batteries”; “HydroTech” truck; “Envirowaste” truck; another “Waste management” truck; another “Envirowaste” truck; “Allied Petroleum” double-tandem tanker-truck; “Monk Appliances” black van; ambulance past Aotea Quay; a black van marked “Plumb 2 Please”; another ambulance heading north through the Terrace Tunnel

At Petone, track building operations had ceased. Heavy construction vehicles were abandoned with no crew about.

At the automated BP Service station on SH2 there were workmen and heavy-work vehicles continuing their construction/maintenance project from yesterday.

At the Ngauranga interchange there were about ten to twelve vehicles visible in either direction. It was definitely busier than last years lockdown.

Out in the harbour, two freighters were anchored on the open water. (Later, that night, only one remained on open water.)

South of Ngauranga, a white campervan was heading north. Another person taking the opportunity to treat lockdown as a personal opportunity for impromptu holiday-time?

In Wellington, the streets were more deserted than yesterday and in the commercial/shopping precincts, most wwere wearing face-masks.

Taranaki Street, looking north:

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Taranaki Street, looking south:

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In Dixon Street, four commercial/service vehicles marked “Vital” were carrying out work:

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One of the vehicles was a ‘cherry picker’. Were they doing work on the power or phone lines? Was it essential – “vital” – work?

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More workmen.

This time outside Te Papa Museum, in Cable Street. Around five men were busily erecting/dis-assembling the white marquee pictured below.

Only half appeared to be wearing face-masks. How is erecting/disassembling a marquee “essential” work?

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A Fulton Hogan truck and ute towing a portacabin, that appeared connected to work being carried out on the marquee:

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Ute towing portacabin:

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Around the bays; Oriental Bay and then Evans Bay; there were considerable numbers of people walking in the sun; families; and plenty of joggers. Not many were masked-up. Two mask wearers wore them inappropriately; one under the nose; the under his chin. (His chin was safe from Delta Covid, no doubt.)

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At the Evans Bay Marina campervan facility, things had changed.

Western end of the carpark:

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Compare todays photo (left) with yesterdays (right). Spot the difference?

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Southern side of the carpark:

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Compare todays photo (left) with yesterdays (right). Spot the difference?

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Northern side of carpark:

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Compare todays photo (left) with yesterdays (right). Spot the difference?

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Out on the street:

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Compare todays photo (left) with yesterdays (right). Spot the difference?

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From my observations, people were making the most of the fine day to either walk about; go jogging; carry out commercial – and possibly non-essential – work; or take campervans out for a tour.

You wouldn’t think there’s a pandemic and we’re currently facing dire consequences from the highly transmissable and deadly Delta variant.

Traffic later in the night was practically non-existent, with no vehicles near the airport or Cobham Drive when this blogger drove through just after 8pm.

The night-time drive home though wasn’t much better, with road works on SH2 opposite the Melling Railway station. The vehicles appeared to have “Fulton Hogan” brandings. How “essential” are roadworks during a pandemic lockdown?

When – not if – Delta Covid arrives in Wellington, it has to be hoped that Wellingtonians lift their game. If current behaviour persists, the virus will rip through this city.

Meanwhile, on a Black Humour Note.

By the way, is anyone still interested in signing this petition?

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Asking for a virus, keen to know.

But for the most supreme irony of the year, take a closer look. Look at the heading “National launches trans-Tasman bubble petition“.

Then look at the red-bannered message above:

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A rather unfortunate juxtaposition?

By Day’s End.

Current covid19 cases: 21

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

So ended the second day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

RNZ: NZ in day two of lockdown as case numbers rise

RNZ: Covid-19 update -11 new community cases and 8 in managed isolation

National Party: National launches trans-Tasman bubble petition

Twitter: @BMHayward – Sth Island lockdown – Sydney – 6.03PM Aug 18 2021

Previous related blogposts

Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

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Acknowledgement: Bill Bramhall (USA)

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Life in lockdown, Round Two – Day 1

18 August 2021 16 comments

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18 August: Day 1 of living in lock-down…

 

Day’s beginning.

Current covid19 cases: 5

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

After a night of torrential rain bursts and thunderous blasts of lightning, I wake up to Round Two of life under lockdown. The weather is overcast outside; the roads wet from last nights downpour. This is a good sign; people may be less inclined to sneak of down to the beach or summer baches for a long weekend.

Sorting through my revised roster of reassigned clients. Thankfully most are staunch and understand the severity of the crisis.

Listening to the radio, vox populi interviews of Kiwis in various centres, I am struck at the stiff-upper-lip response from people. The lock-down is considered necessary; people point to the cluster-f**k that is Sydney; “we can do this, we’ve done it before”. I am reminded of WW2 stories of British people during the blitz; calm resignation and determination to see it through.

Only one jarring, dissenting voice from the South Island who whines like a six year old that only the North Island should’ve been locked down because the outbreak was a North Island thing:

But Matt Radcliffe said the South Island should not have been forced to lock down for a case in the North Island.

“We’re like sheep aren’t we. Yeah, I think it is over the top. You know, one case, if it is one case in the North Island… Australians can lock down a state, why can’t New Zealand lock down an island, if it’s in the north, shut down the North Island.”

Australians can lock down a state” has to be the most moronic statement since David Seymour prattled on about plastic bags. Obviously Mr Radcliffe is living in blissful ignorance at how Delta has slipped through one state after another because NSW did not opt for a full lockdown.

Contrast with this person, who really was the adult in the room:

In central Dunedin, Carolyne Smith said anything less than level four would have risked a New South Wales-type scenario.

“I mean if we go for sharp and hopefully short, we’ll knock it on the head, but I think if Jacinda and Ashley had gone for say level three or anything like that, they would have been just wide open to letting it go.”

The drive into Wellington took me along my usual route; down SH2 to the motorway; through the Terrace Tunnel; down Ghuznee Street, toward the Basin Reserve and then the Eastern Suburbs.

Traffic along the way. Definitely busier than the last L4 lockdown last year. Whilst hard to put a firm number, counting at any moment indicated twice the level of traffic than last year.

And there seemed to be more tradies on the motorway and city streets with their vans, utes, flat decks, et al. Plus a coca cola delivery truck – because carbonated soft drinks, as we all know, are critical to our wellbeing.

Near deserted suburban park-and-ride carparks. Normally filled to overflowing onto adjacent streets, only half a dozen cars  sat under a gloomy, chilly gray sky…

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The drive into town (and on the way home later that night) was marked by the presence of police vehicle. One sighted on SH2; another in Victoria Street, south of the Terrace Tunnel; and one parked up on the grassy central berm in Cobham Drive, connecting the city to the airport. This was in marked contrast to last year, when police were curiously absent from streets and motorway.

As mentioned above, traffic on the motorway was noticeably heavier than last year’s lockdown. More trucks; vans, utes – both marked and unmarked.

The number of vans and utes with electricians and plumbers markings indicated that either these people were still on the job, or perhaps were nipping down to their local super market for milk, bread, and nappies.

Last year I listed the markings on commercial vehicles. But I also missed many more travelling in the opposite direction. I may or may not continue the practice…

But certainly will observe and diary events, incidences, and people being people as I witness them.

Meanwhile, as I entered the deserted streets of Wellington…

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Looking north along Cuba Street, toward Cuba Mall…

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Coca cola-branded delivery truck. Both delivery persons wore masks. One over his face (good). The other under his chin (not so terribly good)…

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At Evans Bay marina, where campervans were permitted by Council by-laws to park-up. It remains to be seen if these vehicles stay put for the next few days…

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As I left my last client and headed to my car, I stood in a Miramar street not far from the Weta Workshops.  Unlike last year, the high-pitched sound of a turbo-prop aircraft accelerating to take-off still filled the dark night. A marked difference from the dead still silence from April 2020.

Tonight I headed home. Wednesdays was usually spent with my partner; dinner; something interesting to watch on TV or Youtube (Chris Hedges and Seth Myers are strong favourites). But tonight was to be spent home, alone. We have separate “bubbles” with mine being far more extended than hers because of my community work.

At least my cat would be happy to see me.

By Day’s End.

As trhe day came to a close, our covid toll had doubled…

Current covid19 cases: 10

Cases in ICU: –

Number of deaths: –

So ended the first day of our journey to beat this thing.

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References

RNZ: South Island settles in for level 4: ‘That’s the sacrifice we’ve got to make’

RNZ: Microbiologist slams ‘irresponsible’ plastic ban claims cited by Seymour

Other Blogs

The Standard: The importance of political leadership in dealing with Covid

The Standard: Here again, but Delta gives less latitude. So give less latitude.

Previous related blogposts

Life in Lock Down: Day 33 & 34

Life in Lock Down: Day 2 of Level 3

Life in Level 1: Reinfection – Labour’s kryptonite

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Acknowledgement: Slane

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Team 5 million vs Covid: Aotearoa on Three Strikes

18 August 2021 15 comments

[Blogger’s Note: Events from 1.30PM, 17 August have overtaken this story.]

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covid 19

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Prologue

16 June, NSW: A Sydney limousine driver ferrying airline flight crews is found to be infected with covid19. Analysis confirms it is the Delta variant.Two days later, community transmission is reported where a Sydney woman had only fleeting contact with the limousine driver.

22 June, NSW: The “Bondi cluster” increases to 21 cases.

22 June, Wellington: Aotearoa New Zealand’s government announces a “travel pause” with New South Wales, effective 11.59PM. As reported;

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covid australia trans tasman bubble

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Strike 1

23 June, Wellington: The news shocked the entire country: a traveller from Sydney to Wellington had tested positive for covid19:

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covid 19

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The male traveller had spent the weekend of 19/21 June in Wellington. After only a fleeting two day visit, the country was thrown into an urgency not seen since last year’s covid outbreak and lockdown.

The response was immediate. Wellington’s Level Alert was raised to Two. It was quickly determined that the traveller had mixed with  thousands of other people as he visited popular tourist spots; retailers; a bar; cafe; hotel, etc:

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covid19

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Authorities only knew of his precise movements because he – unless most New Zealanders  – was scanning the QR code wherever he went. It was this meticulousness that allowed the Ministry of Health to ascertain not just where he had been, but who might have been in close contact with him.

We owe this person a great deal.

Four days after the first announcement, and upon his return to Sydney, the traveller’s partner tested positive for covid19. It was announced at around the same time that – unsurprisingly – the traveller’s covid variant was indeed the highly infectious Delta strain.

It was the same strain that was rapidly spreading through Sydney from where the traveller had come from. By a miracle, as days passed, there were no reports of community transmission in Wellington. None of his 2,609 close contacts tested positive for the virus. Neither were there any traces of the virus in the city’s wastewater.

We had dodged the bullet. Strike 1.

Strike 2

5/6 July, Auckland-New Plymouth: The country was stunned to learn that relieving foreign ship crews were landing in Aotearoa, without the full 14 day MIQ. One crew was transported to their vessel, the Spanish-owned Viking Bay:

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covid 19 playa zahara

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Alarmingly, the MoH disclosed:

A Ministry spokesperson says they entered into the country under an exemption so they did not have to quarantine.

“These mariners entered into New Zealand under an exemption contained within the maritime border order.

“It’s important to note that all people such as mariners who this exemption applies to are still required to comply with full infection prevention controls.”

It is as if  leading Ministry of Health officials are oblivious as to the vastly more infectious nature of the Delta variant. Remember that the Sydney limousine driver infected a 70 year old woman at a local cafe with only the briefest of interactions. As New South Wales’ Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, pointed out:

“This indicates that the initial case was highly infectious, as transmission must have occurred through fleeting exposure, noting that the woman who caught the infection at the café was actually seated outside and there was no known contact with the initial case.”

The van driver who transported the nine seafarers was put into isolation, as were two other Ports of Auckland workers.

The Ministry’s insistence that there was “minimal additional risk to any of the contacts during the transfer process” rings dangerously hollow when we realise that the current crisis facing NSW started of with one highly infectious person.

At last two Ports of Auckland workers and the van driver were put at risk of infection; potential serious illness, and possibly worse.

The drive from Auckland to Port Taranaki is a five hour journey.  During that journey, the travellersstopped to use the toilets at a Hamilton isolation facility”.

It is difficult to accept they made only one “pit stop”.  With nine individual seafarers and a van driver, is it credible they all needed to use the toilets simultaneously? And as Maritime Workers Union national secretary, Craig Harrison, added:

“It’s a fair old drive from Auckland to New Plymouth when you think about it. If the driver’s coming back from New Plymouth, if it’s down and back in one day, he must be refuelling somewhere.”

It is unclear where else the van may have stopped for food, toilet visit, or to re-fuel. And if the van had broken down, with two infectious seafarers onboard; had they interacted with passers-by or professional road-side assistance, the scenario for community transmission would have been set.

12 July, Wellington: A week after the five-hour drive from Auckland to Port Taranaki, the Viking Bay docked in Wellington.

13 July, Wellington: According to the MoH, fifteen of the Viking Bay’s 20 crew were transferred to an on-shore MIQ facility at the Grand Mercure Hotel. Including the original two from the Auckland-to-New Plymouth drive, all fifteen were now infected with the Delta variant.

The following day, another crewmember – one of the remaining five aboard the Viking Bay – became unwell and joined his comrades in MIQ. This despite the fact that same seafarer had recently returned a ‘negative’ covid test.

We had apparently (?) dodged another bullet. Strike 2.

Strike 3

18 July, Lyttelton Port: Another ship, the Spanish-flagged Playa Zahara docked at the port. The Delta variant had spread easily throughout the ship, infecting three crewmembers. A further thirteen crew also tested positive for covid, most likely Delta as well.

Again the relieving crew for the fishing vessel landed in Auckland on 18 June and spent only two days in MIQ. According to MoH,  they were tested before their arrival in Aotearoa New Zealand and again prior to boarding their ship. It is unclear when the second testing took place.

4 August, Port of Tauranga: Matters took a dangerous turn when the Singapore registered container ship, Rio De La Plata, docked at the port to unload its cargo.

Initially, 72 Tauranga port workers boarded the Rio De La Plata.

Eleven of the 21 crew aboard the ship tested positive for covid. According to the MoH, “Officials have worked with employers to identify 94 port workers who had contact with the ship, unloading cargo in shifts over the four-day period it was berthed at Port of Tauranga from 6pm on Wednesday 4 August to 2pm on Saturday 7 August.”

The number was subsequently increased to 98.

Writing for Stuff media, was able to reveal that no one at Port of Tauranga or Bay of Plenty District Health Board was keeping track of who was or was not vaccinated at the port.

Worse was to come.

It was also revealed that port workers were needlessly exposed to infected crew aboard the Rio De La Plata  a second time:

The Rio de la Plata was initially given the okay to berth in Tauranga on Wednesday. Then it was suddenly shut down that same night. Then it was given the all clear again the next morning. And now, half of its crew have tested positive for Covid-19.

Ports of Tauranga management put their side  of events:

The ship was tied up at Port of Tauranga from 6pm on Wednesday 4 August to 2pm on Saturday 7 August…

[…]

… A Port of Tauranga pilot boarded the vessel at approximately 5pm on Wednesday and brought the ship in to the Tauranga Container Terminal. At about 9pm, Customs NZ unexpectedly shut down operations on the ship and the local Public Health Unit advised Port of Tauranga that our pilot and the stevedores unloading the ship should go home and isolate while awaiting further instructions.

On Thursday morning, Government agencies have clarified the situation and the Public Health Unit advised us that operations can resume on the vessel and there was no need for workers to isolate.

This despite Port of Tauranga admitted that they had been advised the day before the Rio de la Plata had been boarded by an Australian Queensland pilot who later tested positive for the virus:

On Tuesday, 3 August, Port of Tauranga received an alert from Maritime NZ that the ship had been boarded two weeks ago by an Australian pilot, who had tested positive for Covid-19. Maritime NZ subsequently cleared the ship for pilot boarding. The ship was also cleared to berth by the Medical Officer of Health at the local Public Health Unit as part of the normal free pratique process.

11 August: the Rio de la Plata  departed Port of Tauranga. All port workers and two pilots tested negative for covid.

The Australian pilot who became infected was not so lucky:

The ship is linked to a COVID case in an Australian pilot who was onboard the vessel July in Queensland and who later developed symptoms and then tested positive for COVID-19 nine days after being aboard the vessel. The Australian pilot is confirmed to have the Delta variant and has not been linked to any other Queensland cases.

Yet again, bullet dodged. Strike 3.

Out!

[This part written after 1.30pm, 17 August. However, it largely follows the original ]

The high-transmission rate of Delta Covid was starkly illustrated in Australia, as described above, when a woman at a cafe came into brief, passing contact with a limousine driver.

In Aotearoa New Zealand, the insanely high degree of transmissability of Delta Covid was reinforced at Auckland’s Jet Park quarantine facility:

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covid - jet park

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Every aspect of the increased dangerous nature of Delta Covid, combined with Aotearoa New Zealand’s policies toward foreign ship crews avoiding full fourteen-day MIQ; and haphazard protocols followed by port workers with visiting ships – does not bode well for us.

Little wonder that the Prime Minister was also uneasy about our vulnerability when it came to maritime traffic:

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Delta covid is unforgiving.  We are tempting Fate with our complacency. Someone at the Ministry of Health has not been paying attention.

We must do better.

Meanwhile, from the Death Cult Capitalists

For ACT leader David Seymour, opening up Aotearoa New Zealand couldn’t come fast enough:

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And to drive home the point, he added:

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That could mean living with Covid-19, even if that led to large outbreaks, more hospitalisations and even deaths…” – Mr Seymour can be very casual with other peoples’ lives. Almost sociopathic.

To be clear what Mr Seymour is calling for:

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“We couldn’t afford a situation in New Zealand to have it out of control in the community because it would risk collapsing or compromising our health system.”

It is not often a politician calls for the planned exposure of a deadly virus on to our country; casually dismisses the inevitable deaths (and not just from unvaccinated); and doesn’t comprehend the damage it would cause our health system.

Not only would opening up and “living with covid” kill – our hospital wards would quickly fill with hundreds of covid patients. This would take beds normally occupied by others with injuries and illnesses. Hip operations would be cancelled: no beds. Injuries from a natural disaster would not be treated: no beds. Life-saving transplants could not go ahead: no beds.

That is the nightmare scenario ACT leader David Seymour would visit upon his fellow Kiwis.

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twitter - covid

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References

ABC News: How the potentially ‘inexcusable’ actions of a limo driver put Sydney on COVID-19 alert

Sky News: Woman in 70s contracted COVID from ‘fleeting exposure’ to Bondi limo driver

NSW Government:  COVID-19 (Coronavirus) statistics – 22 June 2021

Otago Daily Times: NZ pauses travel bubble with New South Wales

Ministry of Health: Australian traveller tests positive for COVID-19

RNZ: Sydney Covid-19 case flew to Wellington last weekend

Stuff media: Covid19 NZ – Wellington enters alert level 2

Stuff media: Covid19 – If Aussie tourist who visited Wellington has Delta variant, alert level shift may be needed

TVNZ: Partner of Sydney man who visited Wellington tests positive for Covid-19

Otago Daily Times: Sydney man who visited Wellington had Delta variant

The Conversation: New Zealand has managed to dodge the COVID-19 bullet, again. Here’s why

RNZ: Australian traveller who visited Wellington has Delta variant

RNZ: Two mariners who were in Auckland test positive for Covid-19

RNZ: Covid-19 – Mariners driven from Auckland to Taranaki pose ‘very low risk’

RNZ: Fishing vessel with two Covid-19 cases will dock in Wellington

MoH: Update on Viking Bay fishing vessel

RNZ: Public at risk, confine infected mariners to MIQ rooms – Des Gorman

RNZ: Another Viking Bay crew member moved to Wellington MIQ facility

MoH: No community cases; 2 new cases in managed isolation; 2 historical cases; Taranaki wastewater update

MoH: Update on Whole Genome Sequencing for Playa Zahara

NZ Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus – Most of infected Playa Zahara crew to go to Christchurch MIQ

Stuff media: Explainer – How a Covid-19 carrying ship docked in NZ, and why workers were let aboard

MoH: More than 20,000 daily vaccine doses; no community cases; two cases of COVID-19, two historical cases in managed isolation; Rio De La Plata update

Otago Daily Times: No community cases in NZ, port workers all negative

MoH: Container Ship at Sea off Tauranga tests positive for COVID-19

Stuff media: Who, exactly, is monitoring vaccination numbers at the port in Tauranga?

Port of Tauranga: Rio de la Plata Update – Tuesday 10 August

RNZ: Covid-19 transmission at Jet Park when doors opened for seconds

Stuff media: PM wants to stop foreign fishing boats from changing crews in New Zealand

Otago Daily Times/NZ Herald: Seymour – Open borders next year regardless of vaccination levels

RNZ: Covid-19 – Delta in NZ community would ‘risk collapsing or compromising our health system’

The Conversation: Most COVID deaths in England now are in the vaccinated – here’s why that shouldn’t alarm you

Twitter: @GrumpyYetAmusin8.1AM – deadly virus – eugenicist – 8.11AM  Aug 12, 2021

Additional

NZ Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus – Viking Bay mariners broke MIQ rules in Wellington

Previous related blogposts

Life in Level 1: Reinfection – No, Dr Bloomfield!

Life in Level 1: Reinfection – Labour’s kryptonite

Is Air NZ the Covid re-infection problem? Possible evidence points to national airline

Does OIA evidence confirm possible Air NZ link to recent covid outbreaks?

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Acknowledgement: Shaun Yeo

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Judith Collins and National: It’s a trust thing

14 July 2021 5 comments

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national not to be trusted

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Clever strategies

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There are firm reasons why National continually fails to gain traction with the voting public (recent Roy Morgan poll notwithstanding, as one fall does a trend not make).

The ongoing in-fighting. The revolving door on leadership changes. It’s lack of coherent policy and direction. A current Caretaker Leader who struggles to be likeable with the public. More leaks than Auckland City’s water pipes. A tarnished image as a “prudent fiscal manager”. And lingering suspicions that the Nats would prioritise business demands to re-open the borders to allow entry to migrant fruit picking workers; hospo staff; tourists; Uncle Tom Cobbly; et al.

The last two are of particular interest.

Caretaker-Leader Judith Collins has berated the current government for poor fiscal management;

“It is irresponsible of the government continuing to spend money like it is with no thought as to where it comes from at the same time as we have 4500 kids in [emergency housing] hotels.

We are a small economy, we now have about $100 billion worth of debt, up from about $50b when the govt took over, and you can blame Covid all you like but ultimately – as those reports show – there was a problem before the government took over and the government had no plan for it…

… but it is ultimately the government’s decision to waste enormous amounts of money and not to actually put the focus on where it needs to be.”

Which is so deeply ironic that it could only be at home at the bottom of the Pacific Marianas Trench.

It was only last year that then-Finance spokesperson, Paul Goldsmith promised voters a tax cut (ie, an out-and-out bribe for votes).

When asked how National could possibly fund tax cuts when every economist was predicting a recession – if not outright Depression – Mr Goldsmith struggled to provide an answer. He eventually came up with a funding solution; raiding the Covid Relief Fund;

The change would not affect the National Party’s proposed temporary tax cuts, which are being paid for by drawing down $4.9 billion of the $14 billion Robertson had set aside from Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund for future Covid-19 policies, if needed.

When the voting public heard National’s plan, they responded en masse to hand a historic majority Labour government. It was clear that most New Zealanders wanted National nowhere near the Treasury benches. Especially Paul Goldsmith who seemed fiscally inept beyond comprehension.

The 2020 General Election did more to undermine National’s “street cred” as a “prudent fiscal manager” than at any time in recent history.

A Newshub-Reid Research poll in July last year backed up National’s fall-from-fiscal-grace in the public eye.;

The latest Newshub-Reid Research Poll asked New Zealanders which party they trust to run the economy from now on through and after COVID-19.

A clear majority – 62.3 percent – trusts a Labour-led Government under Jacinda Ardern, while just over a quarter of the country – 26.5 percent – trusts a National-led Government under Judith Collins.

So when National’s Caretaker Leader Judith Collins accused the govt of being “irresponsible of the government continuing to spend money like it is with no thought as to where it comes from” and wast[ing] enormous amounts of money” – no one was listening.

While Ms Collins berates Labour for “continuing to spend money like it is with no thought as to where it comes from” – her Covid spokesperson, Chris Bishop, was demanding that government purpose-build isolation/quarantine facilities on “vacant land near Auckland Airport“. According to Mr Bishop;

We still think purpose built quarantine facilities makes sense. Using hotels in downtown Auckland was a good stop gap measure last year. But hotels simply aren’t built for quarantine and isolation.”

However, it was noticeable that Neither Mr Bishop, nor his (current) Leader, have offered any costing to purpose-build such a facility.

To provide some broad indication, a planned purpose built quarantine facility in Victoria, Australia, is estimated to cost A$15 million [NZ16 million] to design and a further “A$200 million [NZ$214 million] to build a 500-bed facility and around A$700 million [NZ$750 million]  if it was scaled up to 3,000 beds”.

By comparison, Aotearoa has between 4,000 to 4,500 beds in hotels in Auckland (18), Hamilton (3), Rotorua (3), Wellington (2) and Christchurch (6).

Using the above figures, building a 4,000 bed facility would cost the country well over a billion dollars. With inevitable cost over-runs, the final figure would be anyone’s guess.

Chris Bishop also called for returnees to be paid a wage whilst self isolating;

“We think the government needs to be more generous when it comes to supporting people when they’re told to self-isolate. Earlier this year we announced a policy of the government paying people’s wages when people are ordered to self-isolate. It’s pretty sensible – if the government is saying to you “stay home” and we don’t want you at work – they should pay.”

National’s calls have not been costed – and nor would they be. The agenda from the Opposition is not to demand a more effective Managed Isolation and Quarantine system. Instead, their unspoken aim is,

(A) to paint the Labour government as ineffective, for pure political point-scoring

(B) to pressure the Labour government to adopt costly policies, which would push up borrowing and debt.  Caretaker Leader Collins would then wag a disapproving finger; and tut-tuttingly exclaim,

“It is irresponsible of the government continuing to spend money like it is with no thought as to where it comes from… it is ultimately the government’s decision to waste enormous amounts of money and not to actually put the focus on where it needs to be.”

Clever strategy; force your rival to spend money – then blame them for spending money.

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Crazy incoherencies

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National’s Deputy Leader, Dr Shane Reti, has called for the retention of Aotearoa’s system of twenty District Health Boards (DHBs);

“So far the Government has employed 25 people with a budget of $5 million to reduce the number of DHBs. But this funding will never directly benefit patients.

Rather than spending millions on the unnecessary amalgamation of DHBs, this money would be much better spent in areas that will actually help New Zealanders.”

Dr Reti’s statement was backed up by his Caretaker Leader, Ms Collins;

“We have all sorts of issues right now. Now is not the time to be restructuring in the middle of a pandemic and an inability to get vaccines out.”

Meanwhile, National’s Covid spokesperson, Chris Bishop, has condemned DHB’s role in distribution of the vaccine;

“We’ve always said that relying on the DHB to do the rollout is not a particularly great model.”

Clearly, Dr Reti, Ms Collins, and Mr Bishop don’t talk much to each other. Based on the comments of those three, the public would be confused as to what National’s policy was regarding DHBs and the vaccine roll-out.

As Former Senior Policy & Communications Strategist for PM Ardern, Clint Smith, put it in a recent ‘tweet‘;

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This is called “incoherence”.

If  “relying on the DHB to do the rollout is not a particularly great model” – then what use are they? Why endorse a system that cannot carry out a task that is their raison d’etre – vaccinations?

Are they opposing reform of 20 DHBs for the sake of Opposition, when they clearly have no alternative solutions of their own?

Yes, they are.

And the public have noticed.

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Confusing irrevancies

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#Demandthedebate is a hashtag currently trending on social media – but not quite in the way National ever intended.

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Social media wits – notably on Twitter – have mercilessly lampooned the launch of National’s campaign to publicise and “debate” certain issues. The “serious” version;

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The more entertaining takes;

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There was more – much more. So much in fact that at last one media outlet realised what was happening and reported the hi-jacking and mass lampooning of National’s “Demand the Debate”.

The campaign has been clumsy since it released it’s initial press statement on

The Press Statement, in it’s entirety;

Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins says New Zealanders are being left out of important decisions by the Labour Government and today she has launched a campaign for Kiwis to ‘Demand the debate’.

“The Labour Government continues to make policy announcements that were never campaigned on and will have a significant impact on New Zealanders.

“From the Car Tax, cancelling promised infrastructure projects, the $785m Auckland cycle bridge, rushed law changes to deliver Māori wards, to the hastily announced oil and gas exploration ban; New Zealanders are starting to feel left out.

“At the same time more than 4000 children are left to grow up in motels, mental health services are in crisis, the Government is looking to criminalise speech they disapprove of and tell you what car you can drive.

“Let’s be clear, Labour was elected on a Covid-19 mandate and nine months later we are still waiting for border workers to be properly vaccinated and MIQ beds sit empty while migrant families wait in desperation to be reunited. We are still last in the developed world for Covid-19 vaccinations. Kiwis deserve better.

“Every week, I’m contacted by thousands of Kiwis who are worried they just don’t have a say in the future of their country anymore. They’re being kept in the dark and their questions go unanswered by Ardern’s Government. So today, we launch the first in a series of billboards on important issues that Kiwis deserve to have their say on.

“The first campaign relates to the Government’s 2019 He Puapua report. Kiwis were never told about it at the time and it was never campaigned on by Labour. It has recently been considered by Cabinet and is being consulted on with a select few New Zealanders.

“The He Puapua report contains recommendations for fundamental changes to our legal, constitutional, and democratic governance arrangements. Changes like separate health and justice systems, separate RMA rules, and separate electoral arrangements. These proposals must be taken to an election so all Kiwis can have their say.

“While they claim publicly it’s not their policy, the Labour Government has already started to implement large parts of He Puapua like Māori Wards and a Māori Health Authority, without the wide-ranging public debate that these changes deserve.

“The Government’s parliamentary majority is not a mandate for Labour to promote their ideological wish list. New Zealanders deserve a say on their country’s future and together we must demand the debate.”

As many have pointed out, National’s claim that “He Puapua report. Kiwis were never told about it at the time and it was never campaigned on by Labour“. Which is bizarre. The report was just that; a report. How could a political party campaign on a “report” that had no standing as it had not even been accepted as party policy?

Government departments create hundreds, if not thousands of reports. Campaigning on each one would be impossible.

This is desperate mischief-making taken to ridiculous levels.

Whilst mentioning the He Pua Pua report as the “first campaign”, it only hints at successive topics; “the Car Tax, cancelling promised infrastructure projects, the $785m Auckland cycle bridge, rushed law changes to deliver Māori wards, to the hastily announced oil and gas exploration ban.”

The craziest part of the press statement is this “gem”;

“The Government’s parliamentary majority is not a mandate for Labour to promote their ideological wish list…”

It’s almost as if the 2020 election never happened and Labour never won a historic 65 seat majority – the first in a MMP Parliament.

Then again, when it comes to “mak[ing] policy announcements that were never campaigned on and will have a significant impact on New Zealanders” – National has some experience in this area;

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Then he raised GST.

If these are the issues that National wants to debate, they have been living in the Wellington Beltway longer than is healthy. Most people would not care greatly about these issues and a considerable number might even agree with them; eg the oil and gas exploration ban.

(Which, by the way, was announced in April, 2018 – two years before the 2020 election.)

These are not debating issues. They are not even “talking points”.

They are a lame attempt for National to be relevant.

And even here, they have failed miserably. Because very few  – perhaps no more than National’s current voting base – would be greatly interested in these so-called issues. They are perhaps Issues of National Significance for National only.

The real issues confronting this country – housing; climate change; staying safe during the covid pandemic – have been all but ignored.

This is by design, not by accident. For not only does National not have anything “fresh” to offer on these issues – but it has actively contributed to one (the housing crisis) and is distrusted on another (keeping us safe from covid).

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Callous indifference

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When Boris Johnson announced that Britain would be easing covid restrictions by 19 July, it was met with incredulity and fear. Even as a covid was surging through the country, PM Johnson was announcing the unthinkable;

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PM Johnson’s statement was nothing less than a death sentence for thousands of unvaccinated British people;

We’re seeing rising hospital admissions and we must reconcile ourselves, sadly, to more deaths from COVID. In these circumstances we must take a careful and a balanced decision.

It was surrender to covid and prioritisation of business over peoples’ lives;

“We have to balance the risks of the disease and of continuing with legal restrictions, with their impact on people’s lives and livelihoods.”

The stats speak for themselves; – over 31,000 new cases and 26 deaths, daily;

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No wonder the interim director for Royal College of Nursing, Jude Diggins, was scathing;

“This disease does not disappear on 19 July. No available vaccine is 100% effective … Public mask-wearing is straightforward and well-established – government will regret the day it sent the wrong signal for political expediency.”

Chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication at Cambridge University, David Spiegelhalter, described PM Johnson’s 19 July decision is chilling terms;

This is an experiment, and I think we’ve got to call it that. I respect the judgments by Chris Whitty and others who say that if you’re going to do this, this is the right time to do it.”

In The Lancet, 122 scientists wrote an open letter condemning Boris Johnson and his government;

In light of these grave risks, and given that vaccination offers the prospect of quickly reaching the same goal of population immunity without incurring them, we consider any strategy that tolerates high levels of infection to be both unethical and illogical. The UK Government must reconsider its current strategy and take urgent steps to protect the public, including children. We believe the government is embarking on a dangerous and unethical experiment, and we call on it to pause plans to abandon mitigations on July 19, 2021.

 

New Zealanders look aghast at covid out of control in India and Fiji; the virus taking hold in New South Wales; and then a British Prime Minister stating matter-of-factly that his country will lift all restrictions – even if it means “we must reconcile ourselves, sadly, to more deaths“.

Then they look at Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins…

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… and they wonder. They wonder if, in National’s Caretaker Leader, Judith Collins, there lurks a “Boris Johnson” waiting to throw open the doors to the rest of the world – and a virus.

With Judith Collins and National, it’s a trust thing.

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#NationalNotFitToGovern

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References

Roy Morgan: Is the COVID-19 ‘honeymoon’ over for PM Jacinda Ardern?

RNZ: Ardern stays firm on superannuation age after Treasury flags rising cost pressures

Stuff media: Election 2020 – ‘Fair cop’ – National’s Paul Goldsmith admits to accounting mistake as Labour points out $4b hole

Stuff media: Election 2020 – National’s fiscal hole appears to double to $8 billion as Paul Goldsmith denies double count mistake

Newshub: Newshub-Reid Research Poll – Kiwis trust Labour more than National to run the economy

Business Insider: Boris Johnson told the UK to reconcile itself to more COVID-19 deaths as the country lifts almost all restrictions amid a new surge

TVNZ News: National proposes building of purpose-built quarantine facility on Auckland’s outskirts

National Party: Our approach to COVID-19 and the vaccine roll-out

ABC News: Melbourne COVID-19 quarantine facility approved as Commonwealth, Victoria agree on site

Managed Isolation and Quarantine: Managed Isolation and Quarantine capacity

Stuff media: Covid-19 – Why the Government isn’t using purpose-built quarantine facilities

National Party: Ditch DHB merger, spend funding on medicines instead

Stuff media: Judith Collins lashes DHB overhaul as too much Wellington bureaucracy, and a ‘separatist model’

Twitter: Morning Report – Chris Bishop – vaccine rollout (RNZ: Morning Report – Chris Bishop on vaccination rollout)

Twitter: Clint Smith – 8 July 2021

Stuff media: National launches billboard campaign to ‘demand debate’ on Government policies

Newshub:  ‘Pineapple on pizza? Demand the debate’: National’s new campaign parodied in memes

Scoop media: National Launch Campaign To Demand The Debate For All New Zealanders

NZ Herald; Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern bans oil exploration

Electoral Commission: 2020 General Election official results

ODT:  Key ruled out GST increase in 2008

RNZ: PM defends proposed GST increase

Business Insider: Boris Johnson told the UK to reconcile itself to more COVID-19 deaths as the country lifts almost all restrictions amid a new surge

The Independent: Big majority of Britons ‘worried’ about Boris Johnson’s plan to lift all Covid restrictions, poll reveals

TVNZ: Covid-19 cases in the UK surge to highest levels in five months

Gov.Uk: Coronavirus (Covid-19) in the UK

The Guardian: New Zealand not willing to risk UK-style ‘live with Covid’ policy, says Jacinda Ardern

The Guardian: Boris Johnson to scrap most of England’s Covid rules from 19 July

Reuters: Analysis – UK PM Johnson’s new COVID gamble worries some scientists

Sky News: COVID-19 – Tolerating high levels of COVID infections is both ‘unethical and illogical’, scientists warn

The Lancet: Mass infection is not an option – we must do more to protect our young

The Guardian: New Zealand not willing to risk UK-style ‘live with Covid’ policy, says Jacinda Ardern

TVNZ: Judith Collins ‘very hopeful’ Covid-19 alert level restrictions will lift today

TVNZ: ‘New Zealand cannot afford any more lockdowns’ – Judith Collins

NZ Herald: Covid 19 coronavirus – National leader Judith Collins calls on Government to open travel bubble with Australia

Stuff media: Covid-19 – Judith Collins says Government should look into vaccinated people skipping managed isolation

Previous related blogposts

Life in Level 1: The Taxpayer’s Coin

Life in Level 1: The Doom of National

Life in Level 2: National’s Barely Secret Agenda

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Acknowledgement: Rod Emmerson

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Have your own thoughts? Leave a comment. (Trolls need not bother.)

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= fs =

Does OIA evidence confirm possible Air NZ link to recent covid outbreaks?

13 March 2021 4 comments

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air nz

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An OIA response from Ministry of Health (see below, under “Addendum”) has fuelled speculation that Air NZ flight crew cannot be eliminated as the cause of the Auckland August covid-outbreak last year and the current February-Valentines Day outbreak. The sources for both outbreaks remain unknown and officially designated as “under investigation“.

The Auckland August covid-outbreak began on 11 August with four community cases detected. The first infected person – a worker at Mt Wellington Americold – became symptomatic on 31 July.

Wanaka-based phylogeneticist, Dr James Hadfield, pointed out;

Finding a recent case in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) or elsewhere on the border that matched this cluster lineage would be strong evidence for the border incursion scenario. We haven’t got any such direct evidence – but this doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

[…]

Extensive testing and contact tracing determined the earliest case found to date was an Americold coolstore worker who first showed symptoms on July 31, and the initial spread of the cluster centred around this coolstore, which imports frozen goods.

Thus, the third hypothesis is that the virus may have been imported on packaging material, where it could have survived in low temperature conditions, and then gone on to infect a worker at the coolstore.

This hypothesis is given further credence by the possible genomic link to Ecuador, since viral particles have been found in China on frozen shrimp packaging from Ecuador.

However, no shipments from Ecuador were received by the coolstore in question.

Coincidentally (?) there is also a branch of the company – Americold Logistics –  in Māngere.

Americold Logistics in Māngere is 1.7km* drive from Auckland International Airport.

In the case of the February-Valentines Day outbreak, Case B involved a worker fromLSG Sky Chefs in Māngere who worked at the laundry facility. Health officials believe she was the first to be infected but developed symptoms after her daughter and then got tested. She had not been at work since 5 February and how she became infected remains unknown. All members of staff at her place of work return negative Covid-19 testing results“.

LSG Skychefs Māngere is a 1.8km* drive from Auckland International Airport.

On 24 February – in a story titled Is Air NZ the Covid re-infection problem? Possible evidence points to national airline – this blogger mapped LSG Sky Chefs, Americold Logistics, and Auckland International Airport;

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sth auckland covid links

 

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However, there was a missing piece: the location of a hotel used by Air NZ as an isolation facility for flight crews returning from international routes. Enquiries to Air NZ and elsewhere were met with a wall of silence. Flight crew’s safety and privacy were often quoted. (Though this does not feature as a concern for other Returnees and migrant essential workers staying at publicly-listed MIQ facilities, including a MoH webpage.)

Aside from the publicly revealed isolation facilities at Grand Windsor in down Auckland’s Queen Street and Ramada Hotels at Auckland CBD and Manukau – the location of an up-till-now secret facility in Māngere was a secret.

However, in a response to an OIA request from this blogger, it can be revealed that the heretofore un-named facility is/was the Heartland Hotel at 14 Airpark Drive, Māngere;

It is unclear if Heartland Hotel is still being used by Air NZ.

On 9 February, former Newshub and RNZ journalist, Zac Fleming discovered that Air NZ flight crews had been leaving their isolation facilities at Ramada Hotel at Auckland CBD and Manukau, and the Grand Windsor on Auckland’s Queen Street, to exercise regularly out in the streets.

It is highly probable that flight crews would also have done the same when in “isolation” at Heartland Hotel in Māngere.

In an Air NZ staff bulletin to crew, it was stated that Ministry of Health guidelines permitted outside exercise activity “… for up to 90 minutes of exercise per day.”  This was confirmed in an online MoH web-document dated 24 December 2020;

Aircrew are only permitted to leave their place of self-isolation:

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to do any outdoor exercise

Flight crews were not held in MIQ for fourteen days. Rather, they were held in isolation for 48 hours and allowed back into the community after just one negative covid test.

Though as University of Otago Medical School epidemiologist, Sir David Skegg, warned;

Of course a single negative test does not prove that a person is not infected, especially early in the course of their illness.”

Mapping all four facilities, LSG Sky Chefs, Americold Logistics,  Auckland International Airport, and Heartland Hotel;

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Heartland Hotel, at 14 Airpark Drive, Māngere, is 3.5kms* from Auckland International Airport.

As this blogger suggested on 24 February – The close proximity of Americold to Auckland International Airport could be considered a coincidence.

But add LSG Skychefs to Americold and the International Airport – and there’s a pattern.

The close proximity of Heartland Hotel is one of the final two missing pieces;

Missing Piece 1: Is/was there a second Air New Zealand Isolation facility  within the LSG Skychefs – Americold – Auckland International Airport precinct? What was it’s location? And if it did exist; did isolating Air NZ flight crew members take their exercise outside the facility “as per the MoH guidelines you will be able to leave the hotel for up to 90 minutes of exercise per day”?

Missing Piece 2: Did an employee from Americold Mt Wellington (where covid infections were detected) have direct contact with the Māngere Branch, thereby placing themself at “Ground Zero”?

This blogger contends that a cascading series of events has resulted in returning Air NZ flight crew(s) initiating both the August Auckland and Valentines Day outbreaks:

  1. Air NZ flight crews isolate for only 48 hours instead of two weeks, even though they are returning from high-risk destinations such as Los Angeles, Asia, etc.
  2. Until recently, returned Air NZ flight crews were permitted to leave isolation to exercise (ie; jogging, walking, etc) out on the streets. A jog by an “isolating” flight crew member around Māngere is not only conceivable but likely.
  3. Air NZ flight crews are permitted to leave isolation after 48 hours after one negative covid test – despite common knowledge that false negatives are common.
  4. Air NZ management have cut flight staff, thereby putting pressure on remaining employees to isolate for only two days, as well as being forced to work shifts on “quarantine flights”.

There has been mounting pressure on this government for South Aucklanders (Manukau, Māngere, etc)  to be given priority for vaccination;

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why?

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– but no one has asked the obvious question: Why is it necessary to vaccinate South Aucklanders first?

What has made South Auckland a target-zone for new covid outbreaks?

As an observant ‘Daily Blog’ reader pointed out; these outbreaks do not seem to be happening in Wellington, Rotorua, or Christchurch, where MIQ facilities also exist (but not Air NZ isolation facilities);

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pennywise - air new zealand - covid19

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Genomic sequencing has eliminated MIQ facilities as being the source for the two recent outbreaks.

Yet, the virus had to enter Aotearoa New Zealand by some means. It didn’t arrive here by ‘spontaneous creation’.

Which leaves our national air carrier. And as this map shows;

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four facilities - a coincidence?

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– it cannot be a coincidence that all areas of interest are in close proximity.

Air NZ is allowed to operate because it is considered a critical infrastructure-service. It has less stringent isolation/quarantine requirements than any other regime operating. As the Ministry of Health explicitly outlined why Air NZ receives preferential treatment;

Because of the importance of maintaining international air routes, New Zealand-based international air crew are mostly exempt from a 14 day isolation or quarantine period as long as they meet certain conditions – both in flight and during layovers…

It would also explain why the Ministry of Health refused point-blank to disclose answers to these two questions I put to them;

1. How many flight crew personnel have contracted covid19?
 
2. Are any flight crews currently infected by covid?

Their response;

“This part of your request is withheld under section 9(2)(b)(ii) as the release of this information would likely unreasonably prejudice the commercial position of the person or company who supplied the information.”

– makes no sense. It is unclear how crew infection rates could “unreasonably prejudice the commercial position”  of Air NZ.

But it makes total sense if the number of returning flight crews showing covid infections has increased significantly. That is not information which Air NZ management or the majority-shareholder – the government – would want in the public domain.

Especially if – as it seems likely – some returning infected flight crews were either not fully isolating (going out for exercises, jogging, walks, etc) – or their negative test results are worthless.

The sooner all Air NZ flight crews are vaccinated, the better for the entire country.

Because what other transmission routes could there be except Air New Zealand.

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* Distances calculated via Google Maps

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Postscript:

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New case of Covid-19 found in airline crew member

7.44PM, 7 March 2021, RNZ

A new case of Covid-19 has been identified in an airline crew member during routine surveillance testing

In a statement this evening, the Ministry of Health said the crew member had returned to New Zealand from Japan on 28 February and had initially returned a negative test result [my emphasis].

The person has since returned a positive test result today, after a swab taken yesterday during routine surveillance testing.

They have moved into Auckland’s quarantine facility today.

The individual’s three household family members have already been tested today and the results are all negative.

Fourteen other air crew who were on the same flight are being contacted, isolated and retested.

The MoH said a public health assessment showed there was low risk to the public, as Auckland was at alert level three during the time the case was back in New Zealand.

There is currently one location of interest – the Auckland Airport Countdown on 3 March between 12.07pm and 1.22pm.

Anyone who was at the store at the same time has been asked to monitor their health for the next ten days and get tested if symptoms arise.

Results from genome sequencing are expected on Tuesday and will help rule out any local transmission.

The new case comes after New Zealand marked a full week with no community cases, following an outbreak in South Auckland.

Auckland moved out of alert level three at 6am today and is currently operating under alert level two.

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Let’s do the sums:

Returned to Aotearoa New Zealand: 28 February

Covid tested & result: negative

Released after MoH mandated 48 hours in Isolation: 2 March

Visited: 3 March, Auckland Airport Countdown between 12.07pm and 1.22pm

Re-tested: 6 March

Covid test result: 7 March: positive

That’s five days out in the public, including a busy supermarket.

Covid testing picked up this case. How many did we miss?

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Addendum:

Ministry of Health OIA Response in full:

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