Ardern’s announcement about the new 4 level alert system for coronavirus

Written By: - Date published: 12:31 pm, March 21st, 2020 - 97 comments
Categories: health, jacinda ardern - Tags: ,

Like most of us I’m pretty stressed, and struggling to keep up with the rapidly evolving situation. I’m going to ask here that we be extra kind to each other, or at least respectful.

RNZ’s livestream

(Ardern’s announcement at midday, commentary via RNZ, a second announcement and Q and A from Ardern around 12.30pm).

New government website http://covid19.govt.nz/ (currently overloaded)

Key messages:

Most people who get covid will have a mild illness. We need to protect the  smaller number of those that are at high risk.

We’ve now moved from Level 1 to Level 2 (see below). This means limiting movement, locally and including non-essential domestic travel.

At risk people, the elderly, people with lung or immune issues, need to stay home now as much as possible.

Please check in with neighbours and others in our community to make sure people are ok.

Everyone try to limit distance between people to 1 – 2m. Keep on with the hand washing.

Please shop normally, so that supermarkets can keep up with supplies (we don’t have food or medicine shortages, just excessive demand in places).

The Four Level Alert System

The four levels give everyone clear guidance on what we can do at each stage.

We can move back and forth between levels, depending on how well we adhere to requirements. See Newsroom link below.

NZ is now at alert level 2.

Some countries went from level 1 to 4, we’ve had more time to prepare and slow that down.

NZ’s four levels (from the Spinoff)

1. Where Covid-19 is here but contained.
A preparation phase. Measures include border measures, contact tracing, limits on mass gatherings.

2. Where the disease is contained but risks are going.
Move to reduce contact. Measures include further border measures. Cancel events. Ask people to work remotely where possible and cancel travel.

3. Where the disease is increasingly difficult to contain.
Step things up again. Close public venues. Ask non-essential businesses to close.

4. Where we have sustained transmission.
Eliminate contact altogether. Maintain essential services but ask everyone to stay at home until Covid-19 is under control.

High definition PDF of the four level chart.

https://twitter.com/grantrobertson1/status/1241148360116948993

Newsroom piece NZ’s new Covid-19 strategy explained, from the 19th (Thurs), with graphs and explanation that I think address how we might move up and down the levels.

My personal view at the moment is that we need to bring everyone into the discussion if possible, because this will enable communities being able to work together. We’re a diverse bunch here and often tend to knock opposing ideas down. But we know from the past that TS can be a place of deeper and more considered discussion and debate even across disagreement. Let’s aim for that again.

97 comments on “Ardern’s announcement about the new 4 level alert system for coronavirus ”

  1. weka 1

    There's a lot of really good information in there, including critique of the govt approach. Interviews about school closure processes and what employers can and are doing.

  2. bwaghorn 3

    Is level 3 where they shut the schools

  3. observer 4

    The alert system is sensible. It clarifies the more general advice, and will become part of everyday language.

    Some towns/regions will be at Level 3 soon, and everyone will know what it means. Or at least, have no excuse not to know.

  4. Poission 5

    No mention of an enhanced testing regime.Random community sampling should be undertaken to fulfill the null supposition.

    Where full community testing has been undertaken (with quarantine measures) we see better outcomes.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-21/one-italian-town-is-bucking-the-countrys-coronavirus-curve/12075048

    • weka 5.1

      Twitter said this morning that testing has now jumped up to our 1500/day test limit.

      • veutoviper 5.1.1

        Did Twitter actually say that 1500 per day was the limit of our testing capability?

        Dr Bloomfield, D-G of Health, confirmed that 1500 tests were completed yesterday and overnight at his press conference at 11am when he advised that:

        • a further 13 cases had been confirmed in the last 24 hours bringing the total to 43, and
        • as yet, they cannot rule out community transmission in two of the new cases.

        https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/412278/coronavirus-ministry-of-health-announces-13-new-covid-19-cases-in-nz

        As well as the new NZ Govt https://covid19.govt.nz/ website, I find the RNZ dedicated COVID-19 page on their website which is updated regularly a good main site for news etc.

        https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/covid-19

        RNZ Checkpoint with Lisa Owen had an hour special from midday to 1pm with a further session scheduled for 5pm today.

        Earlier today Kim Hill on her Saturday Morning show on RNZ National had a couple of indepth interviews on Covid-19.

        I found the first of these with consultant clinical virologist (and Naked Scientist) Dr Chris Smith of particular interest. It covered a lot of questions that people have been raising, including the questions that arose on Open Mike this morning vis a vis the relationship to the COVID19 situation of encouraging early and widespread uptake of flu vaccinations here in NZ.

        This link to the overall episode this morning has links to the various relevant interviews and audio of these – and also some that were interesting and NOT about Covid 19!

        https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/saturday

        • weka 5.1.1.1

          'Twitter said' is twitter speak for 'someone on twitter said that I consider to be reasonably reliable'. Always good to fact check.

          The 1,500 limit was from wider this week. I'm sure it will increase as they scale up labs and gear. I also assume they're making priority decisions about who to test and when based on that. It's not like they could have tested tens of thousands of people in Feb.

          • veutoviper 5.1.1.1.1

            I spoke briefly on the testing capacity to a neighbour in the know in this area – high up in the pathology area (practical and medical school) – who did not say what it was but indicated that it has been and is being ramped up as a top priority. She will be directly involved from now on, along with many of her colleagues in this area as the med school moves to online teaching.

            All part of the overall NZ Pandemic Plan which was revised in 2017

            https://www.health.govt.nz/publication/new-zealand-influenza-pandemic-plan-framework-action

            This in turn is part of the overall emergency management planning for the health sector as per this

            https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/healthy-living/emergency-management

            The above are just the tip of the iceberg in relation to overall NZ government planning for national, regional and local emergencies, which underwent a major overhaul just three plus months ago in Dec 2019 as a result of a 2017 Ministerial review into better responses to natural disasters and other emergencies, commissioned after the November 2016 earthquake and tsunami and the 2017 Port Hills fire.

            I will try to throw a short comment together on this overall change to NZ emergency management and post it on OM tomorrow. I have one or two other very interesting – and very busy – neighbours involved in this side as well!

            • weka 5.1.1.1.1.1

              From 4 days ago,

              "On March 12 laboratories across the country could handle 550 tests a day, Ardern said the daily capacity would soon reach 1500."

              https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/120331916/coronavirus-increased-testing-capacity-is-there-its-now-up-to-the-doctors-pm-says

              Yes, I am assuming it will be increasing over time. But the idea that is going around that we could be testing tens of thousands of people doesn’t seem real to me.

              • Incognito

                There should be more than enough primary and auxiliary equipment around in various labs around the country and these need to be checked for performance criteria. It will take time to train extra staff to handle the samples, which is fairly critical, and the instruments. The kits and reagents could become a limiting factor as the whole world is using these and AFAIK there’s a limited supply chain. Another factor is the whole logistics chain and managing (centralising) the data flow.

                • weka

                  Yes, multiple factors all having their own constraints, some more easily resolvable than others. I'm seeing lots of people basing their ideas on not understanding the physical limits of our society and global economy. I guess we are so socialised into if you want something and have the money you just buy it.

    • Incognito 5.2

      This was a small village that went into complete isolation and lockdown and everyone (3,300) was tested and tested again. It was a drastic action and in a way a large experiment on a small scale. The problem is that it cannot be linearly scaled to a nation-wide scale. It would mean completely isolating the country and immobilising all of its inhabitants. At national level, the practical limitations become almost physical limitations.

      • weka 5.2.1

        I doubt we would have enough test kits or lab space either.

        • Incognito 5.2.1.1

          It is ramping up but you simply cannot test and monitor (i.e. repeat testing) the whole population of NZ like they did in Vo whilst having everybody in complete lockdown.

    • patricia 5.3

      Testing stations have been set up in many communities.

    • mauī 5.4

      The good news is that I think the Chief Doc said we did 1,500 tests yesterday and on a population basis that is equivalent to what South Korea has been doing, and they seem to have a handle on it.

  5. Corey Humm 6

    "bring everyone into the discussion" do you mean on a government level? If so no, absolutely not, the only people who should have any voice in the decision making process are health experts and cabinet and perhaps civil defense I don't see what diverse voices in decision process will do when we are simply acting on medical experts advice, noone cares or wants to know what rwnj talkshow hosts or woke Twitter thinks about a pandemic.

    If it's a conversation of how do we cope with those decisions or how do we cope with losing our jobs or loneliness and isolation without social contact then sure!

    But the "they should be doing this , lock the country down , close the borders, we're all gonna die" "it's 5g" "give everyone a thousand dollars right now" "jacinda needs to grow a spine" from dramatic unqualified people is getting draining.

    • bill 6.1

      I'm just going to throw in what I believe to be indicative of a bureaucratic/political mind set.

      When Ed Miliband was the UKs Minister for Climate Change (or whatever the exact title was), Kevin Anderson (eminent climate scientist), approached him with the news that 2 degrees was slipping out of reach. Miliband's response was that "they" couldn't let on because they'd already invested too much in the narrative.

      Right now, politicians (insofar as they are "managers" of society) should be taking direction from virologists (or whatever the proper title might be) and not allowing any economists or others into the room.

      And when their directions impact on another field of expertise, then people from that field should then be elevated for those decision processes.

      Don't expect anything so sensible though.

      Expect bureaucratic clusterfuck just as in the aftermath of Chernobyl, Christchurch, Fukashima – and just as is happening in the face of AGW.

    • weka 6.2

      "bring everyone into the discussion" do you mean on a government level?"

      No I meant on TS. I'll edit to make that clearer. It's mostly me saying that everyone will have thoughts on what is going on and we can foster good conversation rather than fractious conversion that shuts some people out.

    • woodart 6.3

      totally agree corey . to many sideline experts wont improve anything. just drags out any decisions while talkfests happen.

  6. bill 7

    To protect supermarket workers – open the places to the public only between stints of shelf stocking and no more "checkout chicks".

    To protect older and more vulnerable people – as in some UK supermarkets, have times set aside when they can shop in a less busy and possibly less contaminated environment.

    To protect yourself – shop at the local dairy (or equivalent) where fewer people will have passed through.

    To protect the homeless – government needs to requisition motels and such like now (as already done in California)

    To protect the poor – that fucking $1000 recurring payment needs to be made to everyone yesterday (tax it back off the richer later)

    To protect small retail food outlet workers – treat the retail space as a kind of warehouse space. Take orders 'at the door', collect them and pass them over at the door or out through the door.

    To protect yourself – be cautious around public transport.

    If those $1000 recurring payments ever eventuate (unlikely), think on whether the function of your job is meaningful in a wider context, and if it isn't, long finger the fucker.

    Like others, there are people in my life, some closer than others who, should they get infected, I likely won't be seeing this time next year. Fuck all the bureaucratic monkeys and MPs who prioritised spinning the plates of commerce over people and their well being – fuck them all. -end-

    • Rosemary McDonald 7.1

      "…prioritised spinning the plates of commerce…"

      Yes. Folks with short memories and a desperate need for a Benevolent Leader to follow blindly will forget that pause…

      Time to dig out Colleen McCulloch 's "A Creed for the Third Millenium" out of storage.

      All the best bill.

      Don't let the bastards etc etc…

    • Sabine 7.2

      seconded. all of it.

  7. RedLogix 8

    Some good news from Italy:

    Around 3,300 people were tested, even if they had no symptoms.

    "We tested everybody," Andrea Crisanti, professor of microbiology at the University of Padua, told the ABC's The World Today.

    • Incognito 8.1

      And now what?

      • RedLogix 8.1.1

        Checkout the link embedded in my first sentence.

        Essentially they tested everyone and found all the silent cases as well as the active ones. Then treated and/or isolated all the cases.

        Vo, in the region of Veneto, is right in the middle of what Italy is calling its coronavirus red zone.

        But local officials say there hasn't been a new case of COVID-19 there since March 13.

        • Incognito 8.1.1.1

          I’d already read it before your comment appeared (see https://thestandard.org.nz/arderns-announcement-about-the-new-4-level-alert-system-for-coronavirus/#comment-1693339 and my reply). You haven’t answered my Q 😉

          • RedLogix 8.1.1.1.1

            Well yes it's an obvious question, can this village maintain their isolation until the pandemic ends globally? Can whole countries do this? NZ and Aus could, but a much tougher ask in places like Africa.

            Testing is one of the four legs on which our strategy will stand on; testing, contact tracing, isolation and mitigation. This article demonstrates just how vital extensive testing is, although logically it cannot stand on it’s own.

            In my career in process automation, there is a very common maxim "you can't control what you haven't measured". And the more you measure the more accurately and rapidly you can control.

            The exact same applies here.

            • Incognito 8.1.1.1.1.1

              You can achieve reasonable control of a stand-alone closed system if you know and measure the key parameters. The current pandemic is not equivalent.

  8. A 9

    We need to level up and lock this shit down for 3-4 weeks and at the end we can get on with living having cleared the most significant time gap. NZ is already at a higher rate of infection per capita than Taiwan ffs.

  9. adam 10

    1. We have been here before, but many of y'all don't want to recognise that. AIDS – yeap that old epidemic. And one thing we learned from that is you can pretty trace transmission through inequality.

    2. The last 40 odd years have been an exercise in growing inequality via economic terrorism.

    3. Coupled with the purity of liberalism that has been rammed down our throat – we have had decades of underinvestment in public health, wealth, wellness and mutual understanding. Do you know your neighbours?

    4 The poor are going to suffer in this – the poor are going to suffer more than anyone other group in society. And what makes me mad – our politicians know this. They know how epidemics work – they know the science, and they know how vectors of transmission work in society. They also know that most people can not cope with financial burden that is coming. That poor people in particular can not and will not be able to cope.

    • Climaction 10.1

      Despite the madness, I’ve seen more acts of kindness in the last week than I’ve seen since the Christchurch earthquake.

      everyone reaching out to neighbours, friends, family, making sure they’re ok and understand they can reach out.

      trying to implicate politicians and rich people in some Anti-poverty conspiracy is as bad as the anti-climate change movement conspiracy that is running through the white upper class suburbs

      • woodart 10.1.1

        +100 climaction. too many people needing someone to have a grudge against.

      • adam 10.1.2

        Fuck off with trying to make what I said a conspiracy theory Climaction. Just the usual dumb assedness technocrats who are really quite fucking stupid. I'm a firm believer in cock up theory. My guess you just don't want know how bad things stand within the health infrastructure because of cuts, efficiency drives and general shit fuckery of ideological hacks.

        I'm pointing what happens with epidemics – go have a read of how AIDS hit those in unequal places of power. The link I gave you has a good collection of historical pieces to get you head around how it works.

        As for the false equivalence with anti-climate movement – how much of a dumb c*&k can you be?

        • Incognito 10.1.2.1

          Climaction’s comment was fair enough and neutral. Please tone down your language and keep your angry outburst under control, thanks.

        • Climaction 10.1.2.2

          Brother works at middlemore and sister at shorecare. Brothers view on middlemore is that it’s so fucked up with entrenched factions it’s it’s own worst enemy. Can’t blame 9 years of national for everything

          its not fake equivalence. It’s very real equivalence

          • adam 10.1.2.2.1

            9 years have you got you head in the clouds, the rot has been longer than that (at least 40 years of madcap far right economic ideology) with ample evidence to back up my statement.

            My wife works in a hospital, my family have worked in healthcare for the last 60 years – and the decline in the last 40 is going to be put on display very soon.

            Don't know about where you live, but they have been telling people to not go to hospital with a fever up here because they can't cope already.

            So poor people dying is nothing to worry about, because climate change is the only issue for you Climaction?

            • Incognito 10.1.2.2.1.1

              So poor people dying is nothing to worry about, because climate change is the only issue for you Climaction?

              That’s not at all what Climaction said or implied and you seem to be twisting words for the sake of having an argument (AKA flaming). Can you please cut it out, thanks?

              This is the second time I’ve asked nicely and said “please”.

              • adam

                Twisting words – his whole comment was twisting what I said.

                FFS get some balance.

                Please and nicely.

    • Incognito 10.2

      They [the politicians] know how epidemics work – they know the science, and they know how vectors of transmission work in society.

      It is ok to be angry right now but please don’t base your anger on nonsense. Most politicians don’t know shit about these things.

      • adam 10.2.1

        Hasn't this crisis been been building for over a month?

        Are you saying that the minister of health, the PM and Cabinet are not getting the best possible advise, and present?

        That they are not being told how epidemics work by scientists?

        Are you saying the degrees that the politicians have, mean nothing in their ability to comprehend scientific and historical data?

        So why are they there? Why do we have them if they "don’t know shit about these things"?

        • Instauration 10.2.1.1

          We need behave and do exactly as the PM, Cabinet and MOH have requested. This is imperative.

          However

          The PM and Cabinet are issuing guidance and directives as if they are law.

          "should" is guidance not law. Cabinet minute is not law (thankfully)

          "must" without targeted legislation or declared "State of Emergency" is not law.

          "Will face legal consequences" is bravado.

          The Government is relying on puny interpretations of powers under Public Health and Health and Safety legislation to convey Cabinet advice as "directives" punishable by law.

          Why bother Parliament to decide abortion legislation if it is simply up to the Cabinet to arbiter abortions as a public health issue ?

          That is scary.

          Have some courage Jacinda – pass legislation that reflects Cabinet intentions – or declare a State of Emergency

        • Incognito 10.2.1.2

          Relying on experts and getting a crash-course doesn’t make them experts, not even close (AKA they don’t know shit with the possible exception of the Minister in charge of a specific portfolio). They act on expert advice (or reports and recommendations from working groups and review committees), which requires trust. You’ll be aware that there are still many unknowns about this virus and pandemic and that even the experts disagree. This time, it is mainly medical science and research. Other times, it is about the economy, for example.

          https://www.pmcsa.ac.nz/

  10. Climaction 11

    It’s great to have a measurable scale of how bad the government thinks things are.

    this might finally remove the media “experts” from the opinion scene and allow the real experts in the professional health community the airtime we need to understand what is actually happening.

  11. A 12

    It's not like we would have as much difficulty with nationwide quarantine as the US where this is happening now…

    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/washington-secrets/breaking-trump-eyes-2-week-quarantine-only-drug-grocery-stores-open

    The federal government has been reluctant to order a “stay in place” order. But officials have said that the administration has been briefing Congress, states, and industry leaders about a potential shutdown that could start next week and after the president taps the Stafford Act that some say allows a national quarantine.

    The goal, said officials, is to stop the spread of the virus and potential deaths.

    The unknown: The administration hopes that the number of cases of the coronavirus does not surge too much.

    A knowledgeable source said that Department of Homeland Security officials are telling states that it is ready to mobilize the National Guard and dispatch them with U.S. military and first responders.

    The goal is to have them dispatched before any call for a national quarantine. The reason: Stop looters and other violence.

    They will announce this as soon as they have troops in place to help prevent looters and rioters and will announce before the end of the weekend.

    NZ is a small fraction of the population and land size. No need for our nation to ever get to the point the US is at now, however we should be preparing our low income earners + welfare recipient without further delays (Bill styles above) so it can be called by end of next week with minimal suffering.

  12. barry 13

    The plan for community transmission should be to ensure that the average transmission rate is less than 1. Then it dies away like in China. Then we can go to work, play sport and socialise again.

    If it gets much more than 1 we have exponential growth and end up like Italy.

    It means testing (even when we have no cases), tracing contacts (keep on going to 3 or 4 degrees of separation), and following up on isolation.

    Once we get good at it, we gradually open our borders (with isolation for entrants starting with long term arrivals.

    It will probably be years before the rest of the world gets their numbers low enough to allow tourism on the scale that we had before. Maybe we don't want it like that again. That means that there is no point in supporting all the workers to stay in the industry. Some operations will have to be allowed to close, and the sooner the better for everyone.

    • weka 13.1

      This is what I suspect too. And when we get to talking about climate change again and how we dropped out GHGs globally so fast, I think there's going to be much more capacity to build a post-carbon economy. I doubt that many people are ready for that conversation yet but I don't think we can leave it too long. I too think sooner we face that the better, but while some of us have been thinking about these things for a long time for others it's very new and takes time to adjust to.

      I also want us to build a resilient society because covid is unlikely to be the last challenge to the global economy.

    • SHG 13.2

      Then it dies away like in China

      We don’t know anything about what’s happening in China, because the Chinese government is our source of information about what’s happening in China.

    • McFlock 13.3

      The plan is to get the transmission rate to zero.

      The reality is "as low as possible".

      There are two factors at play regarding longer term effects on global travel.

      The first is whether the virus evolves to be less lethal, which can happen over time: the patients who have more mild symptoms for longer infect more people than the patients who get obvious serious symptoms or.. whatevs very quickly.

      The second factor is whether we get a decent vaccine in a year or so. In which case it becomes like the flu: annual shots to lower the effect of each infection season.

      The issue this year was that we have no vaccine and doctors were essentially treating in the dark, with no knowledge of which drugs were more effective than others. Our treatment knowledge is improving, but vaccines are often silver bullets if we can find them.

      • SHG 13.3.1

        The issue this year was that we have no vaccine and doctors were essentially treating in the dark, with no knowledge of which drugs were more effective than others.

        Not entirely true. We (the human race) have been testing vaccine candidates for lots of things for a long time. Some of the reasons that vaccine candidates were labelled failures were things like “we thought this vaccine would prevent Ebola but it only seems to prevent coronaviruses, dammit”. We’ve got to go back through all those failures, but it’s not treating in the dark.

  13. CarolynS (@Carolyn_nth) 14

    People in the media are saying the alert levels have made things clear – well they mainly seem to be talking about workers and businesses, which is no small thing, and to be welcomed for the running of the country & workers.

    For this 70 yr old, things are far from clear and is just creating anxiety. On the one hand the PM says people over 70 should stay at home. She also said people should shop at supermarkets as normal. So which is it for 70 yr olds? Go to the supermarket or not? If not, there should have been a clear system for us to get home deliveries.

    Tried Countdown's home delivery or order online & PickUp from my local store. You can book up to a week in advance, with warnings slots are filling up. All the day-time slots for PickUp say "closed". There's slots for home delivery during the week, but when I click on them, it doesn't register and I get a message to select a slot. Tried it with 3 different browsers. Nothing works. Won't let me go to checkout without selecting a slot.

    Bloody useless. And the costs for home delivery will make it impossible for some pensioners on low incomes. I'm fortunate as I can last a week without getting anymore groceries in – not an option for . It's cheaper for orders over $200.00 (so benefits the wealthy). I figure I can bare the cost of about a 2 weekly order over $200.00.

    Of course the supermarket situation has been made worse by those not in much need, health or age wise, bulk buying & clearing the shelves. They now have restricted hours, meaning physical distancing has been made harder.

    End of rant

    • weka 14.1

      I think it's going to be hard for many. At this point it's all advisory, so more at risk people who have no choice will have to go to the supermarket. I'm hoping that over the next few weeks/month we will see new systems being set up. Lots of places communities will pick up the slack, but lots of other places that won't be possible.

      There's going to be lots of people needing work soon, a shopping service could be one new operation we see, with state funding for low income people in the same way that we do for homehelp.

      Good to see you Carolyn.

      • CarolynS (@Carolyn_nth) 14.1.1

        Thanks, weka. Hi to you, also.

        And I have more time at home now, so will be online more.

        Yes, apparently it is only an advisory. But some MSM headlines give the wrong impression eg I think it was Stuff with an earlier link saying over 70s to self isolate.

        Anyway, it's clarified on this RNZ article:

        https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/412294/concerns-elderly-people-not-getting-covid-19-messages

        Tuffnell wanted people to know that the government's latest advice on staying home was not mandatory, but a suggestion.

        Also he's recommending an hour in the mornings for us oldies to use the supermarket. The supermarkets dismissed this idea last week because Grey Power told them seniors wanted to be able to shop at any time. But that was before the restriction of opening hours.

        I have emailed Countdown with my concerns.

        I have had a couple of people offer to shop for me, but the people who live closest are not people I know so much. Also I prefer to be independent. I wouldn't mind ordering home delivery more often, if it were easier and cheaper, or store pickup if it wasn't so quickly booked in advance.

        I've been socially/physically distancing myself where possible, but many people in public don't seem to practice it, especially young people. Had to go to the bank earlier this week, the guy who queued behind me was closer than 1 meter. Shops and banks should promote physical distancing, in queues, etc.

        • weka 14.1.1.1

          "Also he's recommending an hour in the mornings for us oldies to use the supermarket."

          That's a great idea. Could be extended for other higher risk people too.

          Emailing Countdown was a good idea. Fingers crossed they'll get a bit more responsive and creative.

          I reckon things will get clearer next week as people start getting over their shock. I really wish some of the MSM would stop amping up everyone's fear.

          • veutoviper 14.1.1.1.1

            Woolworths introduced this from 7am to 8am in their Australian supermarkets last week for elderly and people with disabilities etc. Countdown here is part of the Woolworths group but did not intend to introduce it here according to their management a few days ago.

            Maui posted on this here on TS http://mauī Comment:Open mike 16/03/2020

            Sacha was nor impressed at the time of day for this initiative, but I can understand that trying to close off these large stores to general customers at any other time of day would be difficult.

            However, are you aware of Countdown's Quiet Hour shopping for people with autism and other conditions where the bright lights, noise etc can be upsetting?.

            After trials in a few stores first, this was introduced across all but two of their stores in Oct 2019 from 2.30 -3.30pm on Wednesdays (with a few exceptions to these hours).

            Australia Woolworths stores have done this for a couple of years.

            https://www.countdown.co.nz/news-and-media-releases/2019/october/countdown-s-low-sensory-quiet-hour-to-be-offered-nationwide

            Countdown are also progressively introducing pharmacies into their stores throughout NZ, with about 30 stores now having them. They are open seven days 9am – 8pm (although presumably hours may change in current circumstances) AND a few months ago they dropped all prescription charges except for scripts issued by specialists. Previously they had dropped the per item charge to $2.50, but the new nil charge means a lot of people who could not afford the $5 or $2.50 per item are now able to fill their prescriptions for nothing.

          • CarolynS (@Carolyn_nth) 14.1.1.1.2

            Yes. I think things will get clearer over time. I think the people bulk buying and clearing shelves has put unexpected pressure on supermarkets. All systems are under strain.

            I logged into Countdown fairly early this morning. They had opened up a new day (next Sunday) for home deliveries. There were a couple of slots saying "available". There weren't any like that yesterday, just some blank slots. I was able to put in a pretty big order for next Sunday.

            I can do that fortnightly if necessary.

            The hardest thing is keeping a supply of fresh fruit and veges in my little flat and fridge. I'll take up an offer from a nephew on the other side of town, and ask for a mid weekly delivery of fruit and veges.

            But it's still going to be very tough for the vulnerable, age and health wise, to keep up regular grocery shopping, especially if they are on low incomes. Countdown's delivery charges are $14.00 for an order up to $199.00 and $9.00 for an order over $200.00 – this privileges the well off, and families over singles.

    • peterh 14.2

      Don't talk rot, she is telling the young to look after the old, PICK up their shopping and deliver it

      • CarolynS (@Carolyn_nth) 14.2.1

        A call to be kind and helpful, is not a comprehensive system. And according to Grey Power Nelson, many seniors do not have internet connections, so are not well informed of the current alert.

        It's easier to follow in small towns eg I understand somewhere in the Wairarapa, people are going door to door and checking on people over 70 yrs. That's much harder in a city like Auckland.

        Not all of us have relatives or friends nearby, and I am one of those who doesn't have children.

        Thanks for your kindness and understanding in these anxiety-making times.

  14. Rosemary McDonald 15

    "Surely not", said I when told that the SOP at a certain hospital in the North Island is not only not providing face masks for frontline doctors and nurses but also actively discouraging these vital personnel from wearing masks they have purchased themselves.

    Something about 'creating panic'.

    Hmm. Funny, really, when you think about it.

    I'd be positively orgasmic if the medicos treating me were wearing the full PPE…panic has a face in this wee drama…those Chinese doctors and nurses collapsing on the job.

    FFS, ?DHB take better care of your greatest assets.

    Sigh.

    Still they're obsessed with the messaging.

    • CarolynS (@Carolyn_nth) 15.1

      Do they have masks available for doctors and nurses, or is that statement a cover for lack of them? Getting the right kind of masks seems to be pretty difficult/impossible for the general public. Also there are warnings about using them "correctly" if using them.

      • Rosemary McDonald 15.1.1

        Very good to see you here again Carolyn_nth. 👍

        My friend told me that the nurses are not allowed to wear even masks they have purchased themselves…purchased because they are not supplied as routine issue…like, say, the packets of latex gloves that adorn the walls of practically each clinical space at the hospital.

        Gloves practically mandatory during patient contact but definitely not masks?

        It was definitely about scaring the patients, which to me is nonsensical.

        Atishoo, atishoo we all fall down…we learned this at our mother's knee.

        Mind you, my friend is Asian…and what would they know about infection control? (/sarc in case it isn't obvious)

        In another few weeks the face mask thing will be de rigueur here…for those who can get them.

        (Lots of folk are making their own. Some patterns are of suspect quality, but others not too bad. Hopefully there will be a reliable supply of top quality kit for hospital staff…and the rest of us can DIY and add to the endless youtube content.)

        Interesting times.

        • CarolynS (@Carolyn_nth) 15.1.1.1

          Gosh. Sounds awful of the health board. I have masks allegedly to filter paint fumes – didn't work so well. Can they be converted to anti-Covid-19 masks?

          • I Feel Love 15.1.1.1.1

            Health care workers know what they're doing, if anyone does, they do. There is no conspiracy.

            • Incognito 15.1.1.1.1.1

              Agreed. You don’t need to wear a face mask when dealing with a broken collar bone.

              • Rosemary McDonald

                Sigh.

                Because of course we all know you can't have a broken clavicle and coronavirus. At the same time. And be infectious and not symptomatic.

                Sighs again and wonders when people will learn that hospitals are cesspits of infection.

                Trust the frontline staff to take the precautions they feel necessary.

                They'll all be wearing as much PPE as possible soon enough.

                • weka

                  They may not have enough masks, and be saving them for once CV is in the community/hospital.

                  I'm guessing the masks are made overseas, probably in Asia, and there is a worldwide demand. Someone correct me if I am wrong please.

                  • CarolynS (@Carolyn_nth)

                    Some news reports from January and early March report shortages of protective gear, including masks, for the general public and for nurses.

                    This from 31 January. Reports of shortages and profiteering

                    Pharmacies have reported that people are buying boxes of N95 masks to ship back to Asia, where there is an "acute shortage" as it is mandatory to wear them in Wuhan, the centre of the deadly virus and home to 11 million people.

                    And this from March 6: Reports of nurses concerned about lack of protective gear in NZ health services.

                    Nurses are raising concerns about the availability and adequacy of protective equipment in hospitals, as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases grows.

                    The nurses' union, New Zealand Nurses Organisation, said staff were becoming increasingly anxious about their safety and how well prepared district health boards were to handle the illness.

                  • Rosemary McDonald

                    Absolutely no reason we can't make masks here. I bet you'd be able to round up hundreds of geriatrics happy as to run a manual production line.

                    Eye protection…came across a brilliant clear plastic full face shield clip on YouTube the other day…

                    Gloves…humm.. just got Peter's supply of medical type stuff from the local dhb. Surgeon's latex gloves(super sterile) and pre packaged and sterile catheterization packs cut by 2/3.

                    We anticipated this, so are not panicking.

                    Usual order of vynil gloves and other stuff.

                    Weka, my friend was wearing her own mask at work at the hospital, for her protection and that of her patients. She thought it strange that she was told by her superior not to wear a mask…because of 'scaring the patients'.

                    She sees it as a human rights issue.

                    • weka

                      Patients should be able to ask to have a masked medical person too.

                      I'm sure there's an ironing out process all round at the moment. My sense is that even though we knew this was coming, last week was a big wake up call for NZ, and there's been a fair amount of stress in all systems. I definitely noticed it at the GP level, they weren't as well prepared as I had assumed.

                      I've seen homemade mask instructions online. Am waiting for ones that have some level of authority with them. I don't think we are at the stage of hospitals needing them (and they have good reasons for not), but definitely need to be preparing for that.

                      What Incog said about autoclaving too. No idea to what extent that tech/process still exists in hospitals.

                    • Incognito []

                      Plenty of autoclaves around in NZ, small and large, but not all gear/equipment can be autoclaved and remain functional. The convenience of disposable materials has been pushed along with the argument that it is more economical in the long run. Of course, it works as long as supply chains can keep up with demand.

                  • Incognito

                    The problem is that much gear used in hospitals, and not just in hospitals, is disposable. The amount of medical waste (as in disposed stuff) is phenomenal. If they can switch to masks that can be autoclaved and sterilised, that might help.

                    • RedBaroncv

                      i think i saw somewhere in the USA was using UV light to sterilise a type of mask so it could be reused not dumped

                    • Incognito []

                      Interesting, but I doubt how effective it would be as UV light works well with smooth flat surfaces or air and, less so, water flows as it doesn’t penetrate into tissues and materials.

                      Ok, it seems the brainy people have already engaged their brains 😉

                      Conserving Supply of Personal Protective Equipment—A Call for Ideas

                      https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2763590

                      I hope NZ health practitioners, DHBs, and MoH take note.

  15. Sabine 16

    we need to stay the fuck at home.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/coronavirus-boris-johnson-uk-doctor-victims-intensive-care-ventilator-italy-a9415356.html

    and the government needs to assure that people who stay at home don't lose their lively hood.

  16. Muttonbird 17

    Driving around Auckland today getting gas supplies and taking the boy for a 1v1 football session I did see a lot over over 70s flouting the Prime Minister's directive.

    I can only assume these are old people who think they are invincible and these concerns don't apply to them. Or they are right wing nut jobs who hate anything Jacinda Ardern does.

    Probably both.

    • Incognito 17.1

      They are not in lockdown and it is meant to keep them safe.

      The announcement was at noon and do you think the ‘house arrest’ commenced immediately? Give the oldies a chance to arrange their affairs, please.

      How can you tell if someone is over 70?

      • Muttonbird 17.1.1

        I know what it's meant to do. The Prime Minister explained that.

        While the rest of us have had our livelihoods removed to protect older people they might want to do as they are told…

        • Sabine 17.1.1.1

          well, you might want to watch the link i posted and then you might want to re-adjust your thinking of 'protecting the older'.

          this lung disease kills young and old, it just kills the older first and faster.

          We should all be at home, all of us. For at lest three weeks. And here we are and we are pretending as if this is just a flu. It ain't. Its a deadly lung disease. So why would the oldies pay any more attention then the very young ones? because we have are at level two on the scale of 4? lol.
          when we reach level 4 this virus will run rampant and hurt and kill indiscriminate.

        • Rosemary McDonald 17.1.1.2

          Seriously Muttonbird???

          Take a deep one and think about it.

          Those over 70s most likely know the risks and that the risk is to themselves.

          They probably know that a la Italy, extreme medical intervention will be rationed and they will not make the cut. Perhaps being out and about helps with the whole accepting your mortality…bearing in mind that unlike the Younger Folk…being out of doors is their happy place, rather than indoors glued to a screen.

          You and your ilk will inherit the earth soon enough…practise a little empathy before the burden lands on your shoulders.

        • Incognito 17.1.1.3

          People fear for their lives and for their livelihoods.

          Don’t pick on a single group, or a few individuals of such a group as they are not representative, because these measures are to protect all of us but most of all the most vulnerable. It is focussed/targeted and judicious use of rules & regulations and resources. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

          Your comment comes across as ‘sour grapes’ – understandably so, may I add – because you feel helpless and have no choice and control over your own situation while they ‘flout the rules’ (they don’t).

  17. Andre 18

    Here's the view from a front-line doctor dealing with COVID-19.

    If you still think it's just like the flu and we're all over-reacting, you need to read it.

    If you're already freaked and panicking, don't read it. Seriously, don't.

    https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2020/03/lung-fluids-coronavirus/

    • weka 18.1

      I won't. Are you seeing many people not taking it seriously now? I'm not seeing that online, but I'm guessing there will be people who aren't online who haven't been paying attention.

  18. greywarshark 19

    How things are going over there, over there, the virus is coming…. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/03/19/coronavirus-deaths-rising-faster-uk-italy/

    One stark stat: In the last week active cases in Italy have risen by 171 per cent. That compares to almost 300 per cent in France, 500 per cent in Spain, 550 per cent in Germany and 480 per cent in the UK. From 21 March at 2pm, Dominic Gilbert at The Telegraph – Data Journalist.

    Major Covid-19

  19. Macro 20

    US is in deep trouble. tRump was warned on the 3rd January that things were going to get rough but fobbed it off until far too late.
    https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/3/21/21189179/coronavirus-trump-intelligence-reports-warned-pandemic

    Here is a running total of Covid_19 cases by country.

    No other country has been as far into the pandemic and still had the number of cases growing at the rates the U.S. is seeing.

    20

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