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Chris Bishop goes woof woof on variant ‘B.1.1.7’

Written By: - Date published: 1:26 pm, December 28th, 2020 - 43 comments
Categories: chris bishop, chris hipkins, covid-19, health, national, same old national, uk politics - Tags:

I realise that this would normally be our silly season, but it seems a bit macabre with such an awful and predicable death toll running overseas in the northern winter. But nothing really excuses Chris Bishop for being a complete dickhead in barking for immediate offshore testing for travellers from the UK. It is pointless. Thank god that the government are a bit more sensible. They’re instituting an extra test at our border.

Yes – I know that part of the role of an ineffectual opposition is to try to bristle themselves up like any other canine to look bigger than they really are. It is all part of the ridiculous game of democratic politics. Only tolerable because no-one has managed to come up with anything more stable that doesn’t have regular revolts or human triggered famines.

But I’d have to say that for me, outright stupidity should be off the table – even for MPs.

There is a new strain of Covid19 B.1.1.7 being reported from some parts of the UK that appears to have an increased speed of transmission statistically. That rate is estimated between 40% and 70% more than the current dominant strains in the UK. It also doesn’t appear to be any more deadly than the existing strains. We probably won’t know for certain on either factor for months because that will require a pile of lab and statistical analysis to distinguish it against the other background factors – like winter, a rural correlation and staying indoors.

A selected for variant isn’t abnormal for this disease. It has happened before as anyone who looks at the variant maps or data. There is a very accessible outline in the Reuters article that I pulled this image from.

covid-19 variants frequency global
Reuters: How the novel coronavirus has evolved

While it is a slow mutating disease compared to something like influenza, the sheer number of infections means that it has ample opportunity to select from variants that have better abilities to reproduce. The virus is likely to recombine individual attributes between different strains when they are mix in together in a host.

Dr Zania Stamataki, Viral Immunologist, University of Birmingham, said:

“The emergence of different coronavirus strains a year after SARS-CoV-2 first jumped to humans is neither cause for panic nor unexpected. Mutations will accumulate and lead to new virus variants, pushed by our own immune system to change or perish.

“This virus doesn’t mutate as fast as influenza and, although we need to keep it under surveillance, it will not be a major undertaking to update the new vaccines when necessary in the future. This year has seen significant advances take place, to build the infrastructure for us to keep up with this coronavirus.”

Science Media Centre: “expert reaction to the new variant of SARS-CoV-2

But apparently Chris Bishop just likes barking at cars. From New Years Eve with the political tactic of ‘viewing with alarm’ this was reported..

National’s Chris Bishop said the government needed to respond to the new strain by introducing pre-departure tests for arrivals from the UK. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Bishop said the government needed to respond to the new strain by introducing pre-departure tests for arrivals from the UK.

“No one is saying that it’s a silver bullet, it’s not something that’s going to magically eliminate Covid overnight, but we think it’s an important part of a suite of tools that can be used to make sure our border response is as top notch as possible,” he said.

Bishop said the situation in the UK was another example of why the government should introduce a ‘traffic-light system’ to grade the risk of incoming travellers.

“That would allow a much more intensive regime for people coming from the UK for example, compared to people from Australia. That’s what people like Professor Baker and others have been calling for, and I think it’s really now time to look at implementing that,” Bishop said.

RNZ: “Covid-19 at border: National calls on government to address concerns over new strain

Woof woof from the shaggy dog… I thought we’d gotten over this idiotic politicking crap now on Covid-19.

Basically that has to be one of the most mindless and outright stupid assertions that I’ve seen from even a National politician for a while. Sure the CDC in the USA has done it. But that is a country that is currently still controlled by a narcissistic idiot who can’t be briefed and who has been dispersing similar fools throughout the federal systems – including documented and attested disruptive political interference in the CDC.

Basically what would be the point of a test? It takes time to get a test that doesn’t have a high probability of getting a high false positive or negative. It takes days after infection for the virus to have a viral load that would even show up in a test.

Just going to get the test involves a significiant risk of picking up an infection. That is the whole point of having lock downs like those currently in operation in the UK – it reduces the probability of transmission.

This is followed by hanging around airports with other potentially infected people waiting for planes. Then days upon days of flying in confined spaces with a lot of other potentially infected people and waiting for transfers at other airports before they arrive here.

Currently we seem to be getting most of the covid-19 cases detected here in MIQ in the day 3 tests, but they’re coming out of treatment pretty fast as well. But given the transit times that are currently prevalent for most multi-hop flights from origin to border seems to indicate that it is likely they picked up the infection in transit (BTW: I’d love to see some more useful analysis of that than the reporters are currently reporting).

So what is the point of doing the the test in the UK? Anyone rational would just isolate themselves as much as possible before boarding a plane rather than going for a test (and increasing their risk of being infected). They’d watch for their own symptoms and get tested if they had some.

After all that is just rational. Who’d want to be caught in transit with Covid-19 and turfed off the plane into isolation and possible death in a foreign country. Especially with the current costs of travel insurance. If they are asymptomatic then they’re almost as likely to not test positive because their viral load just hasn’t risen high enough to hit the thresholds of the tests.

This morning a more rational response was announced by the government. I had to amend my post to remove the same suggestion. Have earlier tests at our border (something we should have done a while go anyway).

New variants of Covid-19 has led the government to introduce a third test for people travelling from high risk countries like the United Kingdom and United States.

Currently everyone who travels here is tested on day three and 12 of their quarantine stay.

From midnight on 31 December, all returnees from higher risk countries will be tested on their first day as well.

Minister for Covid-19 Response Chris Hipkins said returnees would also be required to be in isolation or quarantine in their allocated room at a facility until their initial test had returned a result.

“This means if the result is positive they will be transferred to a quarantine facility effectively several days earlier than under the standard two-test regime,” Hipkins said in a statement.

“We’ve been monitoring overseas developments very closely, and, like many other countries, New Zealand has heightened concerns about the new variants of the virus and their potential to spread more rapidly, and the ongoing high rates of infection in some countries.”

He said asymptomatic people were arriving at the border and being picked up in day three testing – so the new day one test would ensure results as soon as possible.

“It will also help us identify earlier anyone who sat close to them on flights,” he said.

“Our 14-day managed quarantine and isolation regime is providing one of the strongest border defences anywhere in the world. These additional requirements for returnees from higher risk countries will provide extra safety for people working in the facilities and greater assurance for New Zealand generally.”

The government was also looking at the option of pre-departure testing for UK arrivals to New Zealand.

RNZ: “More Covid tests for arrivals as new strains emerge

Perfect for everything except for

  1. Do the day one test for everyone. There is no point in increasing the complexity of the system. Getting your sinuses probed three time is going to be no more obnoxious as having it happen twice or even once. We could also do with better data about the progression of the disease in arriving passengers and crew.
  2. Focus any pre-departure ‘option’ on what do we do as vaccines become more available. Don’t waste time on pointless and meaningless activities that are only useful for academic research and the airline and airport industries.
    If the flight industry want to know the levels of infection in transit and the operational changes required to diminish it – then they can do that themselves. After all it is what they must do before they’re able to be regarded as a means of transport rather than simply being the plague carriers. They’re also the experts in shoving hosts together to share diseases globally – (opps) managing mass international transits.
  3. Ultimately suppressing this pandemic is going to rely on being able to reduce transmission between regions of varying resistance to the disease and its variants so suppression can be done locally. So we go back to the smallpox suppression techniques. Proof of vaccination before entry. Widespread vaccinations.

But I guess that National are the same old national. Their heads still seem to be far too embedded up their own arses to even become an effective opposition. It would have taken a moments thought to come up with what Chris Hipkins announced today, and it would have made them look prescient and ahead of the ball. Instead it mad Chris Bishop look like a shaggy dog stupidly chasing a car for no apparent reason – again.

43 comments on “Chris Bishop goes woof woof on variant ‘B.1.1.7’ ”

  1. SPC 1

    Bishop said the situation in the UK was another example of why the government should introduce a ‘traffic-light system’ to grade the risk of incoming travellers.

    No need, given Singapore and Hong Kong have blocked transit flights from the UK and reduced the flow from the UK.

    • lprent 1.1

      Well there is that as well (should have thought of that myself).

      From memory that was done well before the dishonourable opened his mouth. A good question to ask.

      But are we still getting flights direct from Doha and Dubai? It appears so from Auckland airport arrivals.
      https://www.aucklandairport.co.nz/flights

      • SPC 1.1.1

        Just as well, at least there is some hope for those trapped in the UK lockdown.

        There might be a case for an Air New Zealand flight for those without housing (hard to book using the public library etc during a lockdown), or otherwise some form of emergency aid via the embassy.

        • lprent 1.1.1.1

          I saw somewhere that the gov was urging people to get on the register of kiwis in the UK.

          I suspect that could be a possible mercy flight list.

  2. SPC 2

    Minister for Covid-19 Response Chris Hipkins said returnees would also be required to be in isolation or quarantine in their allocated room at a facility until their initial test had returned a result. “This means if the result is positive they will be transferred to a quarantine facility effectively several days earlier than under the standard two-test regime,” Hipkins said in a statement.

    It's in the right direction as an approach to a more infectious threat. (I would have moved to room isolation for the first week, but that could be a next step).

  3. SPC 3

    So what is the point of doing the the test in the UK? Anyone rational would just isolate themselves as much as possible before boarding a plane rather than going for a test (and increasing their risk of being infected). They’d watch for their own symptoms and get tested if they had some.

    I completely agree, and have long wondered why Baker advocates for such pre testing. Getting the test and then getting to the plane are the two risks taken to get here. And those getting tested would be going to places frequented by locals with symptoms getting checked (so its either coronavirus or flu they might be catching by being there). They get a negative test result, but get infected just before getting the flight. It's a move in the wrong direction.

    At least the queue for the vaccine will not be populated by those already inflected.

    • Incognito 3.1

      I completely agree, and have long wondered why Baker advocates for such pre testing.

      Here’s your answer, take it or leave it:

      Otago University epidemiologist Michael Baker told Morning Report the pre-flight test is one of two moves he supports. The other is that anyone travelling to New Zealand from a list of countries with large COVID-19 outbreaks should go into quarantine for a week beforehand.

      If their pre-flight test was positive, they would need to delay their departure to New Zealand by a month while they cleared the virus.

      It would be an alternative to closing the borders to certain countries, Baker said. All travellers would still undergo the two weeks in isolation and two COVID-19 tests on their arrival.

      “The goal here is not to stop every case, it’s to reduce the number arriving in New Zealand which puts a strain on our system.

      “This is all about probability, it’s about decreasing the risk of anyone getting through this managed isolation system in New Zealand.”

      https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/travel/2020/10/coronavirus-epidemiologist-michael-baker-calls-for-pre-flight-quarantine-for-some-travellers.html

      It was not hard to find …

      • SPC 3.1.1

        Your point?

        Those in high spread nations are already self-isolating before flying out? However they run the risk of getting infected getting to and through airports etc.

        We cannot run quarantine in other nations, so what does this even mean?

        • Incognito 3.1.1.1

          My point? None, zilch, nada.

          It’s Baker’s point, which is what you were wondering about, apparently.

          I did say, take it or leave it, because some lazy commenters here have a ‘funny’ habit of going after the one who provides helpful links that can be found without much effort if they would actually look for them …

          • SPC 3.1.1.1.1

            Gee, I wonder how I knew Baker had advocated for pre testing before Bishop, if I had not already read media accounts.

            And what is Baker's point?

            Not even Bishop is silly enough to call for a weeks quarantine overseas, he realises he might be asked what that's about. Who knows?

            • Incognito 3.1.1.1.1.1

              Of course, you are very well informed and now you also don’t have to wonder any longer why Baker advocates for pre-testing. My job is done, again 🙂

              Oh, I see, you found another point by Baker to quibble about. Why don’t you take it to the COVID-19 Technical Advisory Group and tell them that you think Baker is “silly” and why? He seems to rub a few others here the wrong way too because ‘he’s in the media so often’ 🙁

              https://www.health.govt.nz/about-ministry/leadership-ministry/expert-groups/covid-19-technical-advisory-group

              • SPC

                now you also don’t have to wonder any longer why Baker advocates for pre-testing.

                If you had followed the thread discussion … I was agreeing with LPrent that pre testing made no sense as it increased the probablity of people arriving infected.

                So you have no idea what quarantine overseas meant either. Maybe it is what he calls waiting a month after a positive test result – but who knows? Media do not explain it.

                As for TAD, meh. The government and MOH have put him the Team B noise category on this issue – they are only moving now because of the more recent increased transmissibility factor – and the first day testing and room isolation until a test result assists with that (for mine I would have a first week room isolation for those from nations of this strain, but the government action is a good move).

                • Incognito

                  So you have no idea what quarantine overseas meant either.

                  That was not your question @ 3, was it? I’ve done the donkey work for you once, haven’t I? Now it’s your turn to do your own homework, isn’t it?

                  If you had followed the thread discussion …

                  😀

                  ‘kay, Baker is “silly” and “noise”, righteo 😉

      • Drowsy M. Kram 3.1.2

        Thanks Incognito – that's clear. To take the pressure off MIQ staff/facilities, NZ could close its borders to (or adopt more restrictive travel policies for) ‘high-risk’ countries, or insist on precautions designed to decrease the proportion of returnees who are infected. Obviously those precautions won't be 100% effective, but they would be better than nothing IMHO.

        Ho-ho-hotel: How to have Christmas in quarantine

        • Operational capacity across managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities is 4500 rooms.
        • All rooms will be occupied on Christmas Day
        • The total number of people through all 32 MIQ facilities since March 26 is 87,996.
        • There are currently 5401 people in managed isolation facilities and 97 people in quarantine.
        • SPC 3.1.2.1

          or insist on precautions designed to decrease the proportion of returnees who are infected

          Would pre testing do that? The reduction in flights back from the UK is already doing it to some degree.

          Hipkins has for now decided on a new first test on the first day of arrival and isolate returnees to rooms until the result comes back.

          • Drowsy M. Kram 3.1.2.1.1

            Would pre-testing decrease the proportion of returnees who are infected?

            Probably (IMHO), but I could only guess at how great that decrease would be. If it was (say) more than a 50% decrease, then maybe it would be worthwhile, but it’s not for me to judge – best to ask MIQ staff working at the ‘coalface’.

            • SPC 3.1.2.1.1.1

              Whereas I think pre testing would in fact increase the numbers arriving infected.

              Most people in high spread nations are isolating and only risk catching the virus going to the airport, or if required to have a negative test result – getting it and then arriving at the airport infected (those at testing stations are usually there because they have symptoms) becomes a danger to others at the airport and on the plane etc.

              • Drowsy M. Kram

                Whereas I think pre testing would in fact increase the numbers arriving infected.

                I'm not following your reasoning. It's possible that individuals could be infected during testing, or at some time between testing and a negative result being returned (no negative result, no flight), or between the negative result being returned and boarding a plane, or during the flight itself.

                But the only additional risk from pre-testing is the test itself – this could even be done without leaving one's home, and so incur minimal additional risk.

                And, if it was me, I'd be taking every precuation not to get infected from well before the pre-flight test until I arrived in NZ, i.e. every step of the way.

                • SPC

                  If people could be tested from their home fine without risk of associating with those with symptoms, then fine. But otherwise pre testing is dangerous to them and then to us.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    Has the risk of contracting COVID-19 during the go-to-whoa standard testing process been estimated? If the risk is significant then this estimate could be quite important.

                    For example, in the USA & UK, two countries with relatively high rates of infections, there have been ~3 COVID tests carried out for every 4 people, which is about three times the testing rate in NZ.
                    https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

                    • SPC

                      One known is that those isolating, without symptoms, would be taking a risk going out to do anything, let alone with being those with symptoms being tested.

                      And yeah, going to get tested because of similar cold/flu symptoms during winter has its risks of increasing spread of coronavirus and the cold/flu. And they do not get the benefit of contact tracing because spread has overwhelmed their tracing system.

                      On the other hand, one reason so many US hospitals have ununsed antibodies is that people arrive too long after infection (they just self isolate until they get sick enough to be hospitalised) for them to be used effectively. For those who do get very sick that's a pity.

                    • Incognito []

                      https://www.who.int/influenza/surveillance_monitoring/updates/latest_update_GIP_surveillance/en/

                      My ‘point’ is, read it, if you like, especially the first two bullet points, and draw your own conclusions.

                    • Drowsy M. Kram

                      @Incognito (8:40 pm) – thanks, if I'm intepreting that WHO link correctly then the actual risk of infection associated with testing is likely to be small and probably well worth it for the detection, tracing and containment that wouldn’t be possible without testing.

                    • SPC

                      The best regime is the car-park drive in (PPE health workers do the test) and those tested are in their own cars.

                      And the testing regime works best in conjunction with an operational tracing system (not overwhelmed by high levels of spread).

                      But if there is high spread, an overwhelmed tracing system, and people have to use public transport to queue at indoor testing locations, in say London, and people can self-isolate …

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    But if there is high spread, [and] an overwhelmed tracing system, and people have to use public transport to queue at indoor testing locations, in say London, and people can self-isolate …

                    Yes SPC (@11:09 pm), please go on… if those conditions are met, does the risk of infection increase to the extent that it outweighs the benefits of testing? That's what I'd like to know. Do you know? If so, then please share your evidence. Perhaps there are reports of testing centres acting a superspreader ‘events’?

                    • SPC

                      Testing is to manage the pandemic spread and identify the cause and treatment of those who are sick.

                      If those with symptoms are not sick and can self isolate (no work issues) and cannot support the track and trace system (already at lockdown levels) by getting tested (note there is no current anti-body availability in the UK for those with pre existing conditions)…

                      For us the pertinent case is the Kiwi without symptoms who has been isolating while waiting for a flight and has little recent contact with locals.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    Just for discussion.

                    ~88,000 people have been through NZ’s MIQ facilities since March 26. Of those, 430 (roughly 1 in 200) tested positive for COVID-19. [Does anyone know how many cases were picked up in the day 3 test?]

                    Frontline MIQ workers might prefer a lower number – who could blame them? And, since COVID-19 cases in MIQ facilities represent the greatest risk of another outbreak in NZ, trying to lower that number while MIQ facilities operate at or near capacity is a no-brainer.

                    I'm speculating that pre-flight testing would roughly halve the number of positive tests in MIQ facilities. We’ll have a better idea of whether that’s reasonable once the additional day 0/1 test for returnees from the (high-risk) UK and USA has been in place for a while.

                    https://covid19.govt.nz/updates-and-resources/latest-updates/additional-covid-19-tests-for-returnees-from-higher-risk-countries/

                    Pre-flight testing is available in NZ, in the US, and elsewhere.

                    What travelers should know about COVID-19 testing before boarding a plane

                    Traveling around the U.S. these days is no longer just a matter of hopping a flight. Because of the nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases, almost a dozen states now require airline passengers to quarantine for 14 days as soon as they touch down.

                    To encourage passengers to brave these obstacles — as well as to boost their sagging revenue — major U.S. airlines are offering preflight COVID-19 tests. The tests are voluntary and cost anywhere from $70 to $150. Some tests can be done at home, while others are available at the airport. Results are provided in a few days.

                    Airlines offering tests still require passengers to wear a mask, observe social distancing rules and practice other safety measures. Each carrier has a slightly different process for administering tests, but all encourage passengers to be tested within 72 hours of boarding. Here's what what you need to know about different airlines' coronavirus testing services.

                    Is Covid-19 testing the way to restart travel? Grades are mixed so far.

                    Airlines and tourism organizations around the world say testing is the answer and are rushing to make it happen, opening test sites at airports, adding test results to passenger records and offering flights only for tested passengers. The World Travel and Tourism Council, along with business and airport groups, on Monday called on governments to open borders with testing to reduce risk rather than waiting for vaccines to end the pandemic. The state of Hawaii, which reopened to travelers with rigorous testing requirements, says it works.

                    “This is save-the-industry important,” says Nick Careen, a senior vice president at the International Air Transport Association, which represents 290 airlines in 120 countries. “We need to start flying now. Border restrictions need to be removed or we will start seeing more airlines fail.”

                    But already there are problems and concerns with travel-related testing. Two passengers with negative Covid-19 tests likely infected five others on the same 18-hour trip in September from Dubai to Auckland, New Zealand, according to a scientific study of the incident published in November by the government-run Institute of Environmental Science and Research, based in Wellington.

                    • lprent

                      [Does anyone know how many cases were picked up in the day 3 test?]

                      Not exactly. However it does appear to be high. (arbitrarily picks a day) on 18th December the cases were as follows Two on day 12 testing. The other eight on day 3.

                      Media release
                      18 December 2020

                      There are 10 new cases of COVID-19 to report in managed isolation in New Zealand since our last media statement on Wednesday. There are no new cases in the community.

                      Two previously reported cases have now recovered. The total number of active cases in New Zealand is 51. Our total number of confirmed cases is 1,754.

                      • One case arrived on 4 December from Netherlands via Singapore. This person tested positive at routine testing around day 12 and has been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.
                      • One case arrived on 5 December from Italy via the United Arab Emirates. This person tested positive at routine testing around day 12 and has been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.
                      • Two cases arrived on 10 December from the United States. These people tested positive at routine testing around day 3 and are now in quarantine in a facility in Christchurch.
                      • Two cases travelling separately arrived on 12 December from India via the United Arab Emirates. They both tested positive during day 3 testing and have been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.
                      • One case arrived on 13 December from Germany via the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia. This person tested positive at routine testing around day 3 and has been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.
                      • One case arrived on 13 December from the United Kingdom via the United Arab Emirates. This person tested positive at routine testing around day 3 and has been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.\\
                      • One case arrived on 13 December from the United Kingdom. This person tested positive at routine testing around day 3 and has been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.
                      • One case arrived on 13 December. This person’s travel itinerary is still being confirmed. This person tested positive at routine testing around day 3 and has been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.

                      The airlines already select out people who are travelling and obviously sick.

                      If I had to bet, I’d guess that probably most of the day three positives picked it up on the transit. That is because the usual time from infection to infectious is between 3 and 5 days. It is to make sure that transit caught covid-19 has time to get to a high enough level to trigger the day three test.

                      The same issue applies to pre-flight testing. You can test, then get infected, wait a few days for results, and then hop on a plane to infect others.

                      Generally the problem with MIQ hasn’t been the number of people in country with Covid-19. It has been the limited number of places available because it is expensive handling people like hot potatoes and reducing the risk of disease spread into the community. Pre-testing does absolutely nothing to change that. It is also completely unsupervised and therefore useless as constraint.

                      Day one testing does help a teeny bit. It removes those who are infected from the MIQ hotels and puts them into medical quarantine. It also provides a focus for flights and travel paths that need a look at. It also means that we can start getting a handle about transit infection – like where are people getting it.

                    • Drowsy M. Kram

                      Thanks lprent – so of the ~430 cases detected in MIQ facilities, maybe 300+ were picked up on day 3.

                      Another question would be: 'What proportion of people who have been through MIQ facilities were travelling from the UK?' Maybe ~20% if the 18 December example is representative, which could mean less than 100 COVID-19 cases from the UK since MIQ got going.

                      Those numbers (and so the risks) seem pretty small to me – not sure if the changes to the test regime for some travellers are about risk minimisation, or if they're being brought in due to concerns about possbile increased risks, a bit of both, or something else.

                    • Treetop

                      I can see MIQ numbers increasing in 2021 under all months.

                      Toilets on international flights would be a hot spot.

                      Having a Covid test on day 1 is sensible as the earlier a person presents the earlier they can be quarantined.

                      I expect the UK and South African mutations to become wide spread.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    The NZ Government will likely be requiring a pre-departure COVID-19 test for those travelling from the UK to NZ.

                    https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/cost-pre-departure-testing-uk-returnees-largely-fall-passengers

                    Wonder how long such a test will need to be in place before the statistical significance of any effect on the number of cases showing up in MIQ facilities can be determined – COVID-19 risk assessment is probably a 'fluid' field of research, what with new strains etc. etc.

                    Returnee dies at Auckland’s Grand Millennium MIQ facility in Auckland’s CBD
                    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/300194447/returnee-dies-at-aucklands-grand-millennium-miq-facility-in-aucklands-cbd

                    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus

              • Incognito

                Yes, that’s all correct, of course. The point is that a proven actual positive case wouldn’t and shouldn’t even bother to go to the airport in the first place, highly likely infecting others, and clogging up the system even more. I think pre-flight testing has some merit.

                • SPC

                  How many of those are there? Most people in high spread nations are already isolating before the flight back.

                  • Incognito

                    Most people in high spread nations are already isolating before the flight back.

                    How many is “most”? Do ‘most’ people take a test as well and is that discretionary also?

                    • SPC

                      No idea. But it's quite common for there to be references to self isolating while waiting for the flight back (in media stories). And no, little reference to getting tested.

                • Macro

                  Lesson learnt from 2020 :

                  2019 – stay away from negative people.

                  2020 – stay away from positive people.

  4. Forget now 4

    Bishop apparently still pushing for trans-Tasman bubble as well, which seems poorly timed (I have family in Sydney). Wiles raises interesting points about funding and trusting overseas pre-departure testing.

    Though I don't think it is an entirely daft idea to throw another slice of gruyere in the sandwich. It could screen out some who would go on to infect others onboard a plane. But certainly not an easily implemented simple fix for everything. Much more the; something must be done, this is something, so we must do it; thought trap.

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/433735/government-warned-against-introducing-pre-departure-covid-19-testing

  5. Lucy 5

    Actually the thing we need to remember is that all the Russian and Ukrainian fishermen were pretested before departure and that worked really well! The problem is that to believe the pretest we must trust the health system of the other country. Why would leaving people be a priority in a pandemic? Easier to not run the test when you are trying to work out which of your citizens are infected – especially when resources are finite. Payment does not mean the work is done – if a box needs to be ticked it will be ticked whether or not the underlying work is complete.

  6. AB 6

    Bishop doesn't care about the arguments either way. His job is to undermine the public's confidence in the government's response. In the early days of the pandemic National said the government's response was excessively harsh/dictatorial, and now they say it is too weak. They have sometimes said both things – that it is bot too harsh and too weak – simultaneously. And Bishop is doing this right now – advocating for pre-depature testing and wanting the trans-Tasman bubble opened. The goal is to imply that there is a level of finesse and precision of calibration that National would bring. It's bullshit, he knows it, but he just doesn't care

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