N.Z. in lock down: DAY 35


Yesterday was DAY 35 of New Zealand in lock down as we fight the COVID19 pandemic.

Human behaviour must at times to an alien seem completely confounding. Here we are at LEVEL 3, which for most New Zealanders is basically LEVEL 3.5 – aside from a few changes, lock down continues like it has for the past five weeks. Because of that New Zealanders should still be observing two metres distance and maintaining a bubble. They should

Yet, on Tuesday morning, having seemingly completely forgotten or deliberately ignoring the rules, there were about 40 people outside a Burger Fuel store in Auckland. Heaven forbid anyone of them was meant to be in isolation, because potentially if one person was infected and passed it on to 6-10 people, suddenly 60-100 people might be infected and then 600-1,000. Given that New Zealand has so far lost 19 people to COVID19 and had 1470 or so cases, 600-1,000 new infections would put dozens in hospital and kill maybe another 10-13 people based on current numbers.

Suddenly we are back on LEVEL 4 lock down. Suddenly we have been made to watch weeks of collective hard work get vapourized just like that – all because a bunch of idiots could not or would not follow the rules. Yet, the vast majority of others who went out to get their first fast foods in weeks or coffees from their favourite barista, had no trouble being compliant.

It is not just random bunches of people who have forgotten. Politicians have too: A.C.T. Leader David Seymour wants to reopen the New Zealand border as soon as possible to international travel. All this in a week where – with the exception of our Polynesian neighbours and Australia – most of the countries nearest and dearest to New Zealand are by no means in control of their respective COVID19 outbreaks.

Now, I really should not be surprised Mr Seymour wants to reopen the border again. As the leader of a party that espouses small government and liberty it is totally in his political remit to be doing this. What seems to be missing though in Mr Seymour’s case, is a reading of the general sentiment around why we have been having lock down and what we hope to get out of it. Or maybe he simply thinks he knows better than the vast majority of New Zealanders who want COVID19 dead and gone once and for all – myself and my family included.

And then there are people like Dr Simon Thornley, an epidemiologist at University of Auckland. Dr Thornley believes that the entire lock down is unnecessary and that we should be coming out of it much faster than we are. Dr Thornley appears to intone that its okay if people with complications from other medical issues die, because they “were going to die anyway”.

I suspect Dr Thornley’s academic reputation has probably taken a bit of a hit with such an attitude. Very probably no one in the medical profession wants to see avoidable deaths happening. It also completely misses why New Zealand went into lock down in the first place: in the worst case scenario, 80,000 New Zealanders were potentially going to die and entire communities were going to be potentially devastated by COVID19. The 0.1% or so that might die might seem like a very low statistic. But that would still be 80 people. Potentially 80 separate families losing a loved one.

You cannot ever tell the family of a deceased loved one that their loved one fell within some sort of statistical margin that was somehow acceptable. Dr Thornley and others proposing a rapid reopening of New Zealand would do well to remember that.