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Covid and contact tracing

Written By: - Date published: 4:46 pm, November 12th, 2020 - 32 comments
Categories: uncategorized - Tags: , ,

Another period of time of uncertainty with potential community transmission of covid. From RNZ,

One of the community cases has no known link to managed isolation. Officials will provide more information in another briefing later today, expected to be about 5pm.

The other community case is linked to the November quarantine cluster.

The imported case arrived on 9 November from Los Angeles, returned a positive test around day three and is in quarantine.

Hipkins says they do not have anything to say about any movement in alert levels at this stage. Any change would require a Cabinet decision and at this point they do not have the information to weigh in such a meeting at this point.

“We will know more about whether we need to have one of those in the next few hours.”

Hipkins urges people to take the standard simple precautions – mask wearing, washing hands, distancing.

I was interested to see this messaging on twitter about contact tracing from tech researcher Andrew Chen,

Latest scan count data from 10 August through to 11 November. Approximately 10-15% of people are scanning QR codes, everyone needs to keep track of your movements in the way that best suits you: take selfies when you go places, take digital notes, keep paper records, use the app.
The app is one way to keep track of your records, with the benefit of you being notified quickly if your records overlap with a known COVID-19 case. But any method of keeping records is better than nothing, because it supports a rapid response and a rapid response saves lives.

Bad news about the stats, good to see the app being promoted alongside other methods of keeping track of our movements.

I live in the rural South Island. You still see sign-in forms in shops and hand sanitiser. I don’t notice the QR codes because I don’t have the app. I don’t see people doing much with any of those. I rely on eftpos transactions and my to do lists when I go to town to be able to track where I have been if I need to. Not infallible, but probably not too different from remembering to scan a QR code. What would be great would be a set of options that people can use that are clearly explained and accessible. At the moment it seems a bit Number 8 Wire.

I was disappointed to hear Wallace Chapman on RNZ talking on the Panel about contact tracing and referring solely to the app. Worse, the Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins did the same thing on RNZ at the next hourly news.

We should be better than this by now. Not everyone has the app, not everyone has their phone with them, not everyone has a smart phone. We need to learn a new set of behaviours, and make them attractive enough over the long haul (I’m assuming years not months).

The drop off in app usage us understandable, maybe we should be teaching people to use a range of techniques and tech, and finding the ones that work best for them that are sustainable over time. I’m sure the MoH wants everyone using the app because it’s easier for them, and faster when there is an outbreak, but given our low numbers some diversity here would be good.

Other developing news around potential weak spots in New Zealand’s covid management systems are the proximity of the new community case to an isolation hotel (next door).

MSM reporting of vaccine development and timeline was off with Stuff reporting two days ago that a vaccine could be rolled out early next year. RNZ has a more even handed and less sensational report today about the governments preparation. Getting people’s hopes up about an early vaccine is not going to help us with the marathon now required.

32 comments on “Covid and contact tracing ”

  1. Richard 1

    I have my Google location tracking on, along with keeping a eye on the news I feel this is effective

  2. Matiri 2

    We're also rural south island and follow the news. We keep a daily log on our mac, have masks ready to use if needed and plenty of soap for hand washing.

  3. observer 3

    I live in Auckland Central. I would say mask use is no more than 20% among pedestrians in the area, including confined spaces indoors. Higher on buses, but not universal, at all. Not much sign of physical distancing either.

    Signing in etc. is important, but that is to trace after the fact. Prevention is the first step, and we just don't seem to be taking that seriously.

    Hipkins just now has asked people in Auckland CBD to stay home if possible, and all the usual things (masks etc). I fear we'll be going back up through the levels because the government has to do what we won't do for ourselves. Hope I'm wrong.

  4. bwaghorn 4

    Time to clamp the boarders shut and await the vaccine, it's not worth the risk of more lockdowns. Special cases only allowed in .

    • Andre 4.1

      What if we got serious about everybody wearing masks in public places wherever they might get close to anyone outside immediate family?

      That is a significant factor in other places that have controlled covid well, like Taiwan.

      • bwaghorn 4.1.1

        It would take instant fines to achieve that . Cant see that happening.

        • Andre

          Here in Orcland for the last round of level 3 and level 2, mask wearing got to quite high levels without it being compulsory (except on public transport). Just strongly encouraged, with a lot of public figures wearing masks as well.

          Chances are pretty good that if the government put a serious push behind wearing masks out in public, the numbers would go back up again. But the messaging on masks has pretty much died off, and public figures like Ardern and Bloomfield aren't modelling mask-wearing anymore, so no surprise the public aren't either.

          • weka

            It's a different situation though. Under higher levels the risk is higher (of more lockdowns, or catching covid). Now it's like people will judge the risk as being very low. This is certainly what it looks like from down south. Why should we be wearing masks when the chances of contact are very small (this is a rhetorical question, I know what the actual answer is). Also, Taiwan compared to Gore or Balclutha, just doesn't work on so many levels.

            If we've got another few years of this, getting everyone to wear masks when the risk is low of perceived as low will create problems of compliance as we go along.

  5. Pingao 5

    Reply to bwaghorn … What about imports and exports? They cross the border too along with the people that transport them.

    • bwaghorn 5.1

      Its a lot less likely to come in through the cool stores than walk in on a expat or duel citizenship person running for cover.

  6. Descendant Of Smith 6

    None of which helps much if your boss makes you go to work:

    Hipkins said it was a "disappointing situation" the manager told the worker, who is in a customer-facing role, to go to work and wear a mask.


  7. Maurice 7

    Germany is touting a 5% work-at-home surtax because those workers do not pay "their share" of tax due to less travel and buying while at work.


  8. Peter 8

    People don't want to use the app. People don't want to use masks. People don't want to wash hands.

    What bets many of those same ones are bitching this morning about 'the Government' stuffing up in Auckland or about themselves being inconvenienced?

    • tc 8.1

      My last few outings from home saw very few people scanning the QR codes at outlets.

      Some even sneered at me scanning them having to brush past not bothering and got shirty if social distancing was requested in a checkout queue.

      IMO the scene is set for an outbreak that will be hard to trace thanks to many fellow kiwis not giving a F.

    • SPC 8.2

      People do it whenever there is known community transmission.

      And they have every reason to expect government border management to keep it out, so they do not have to.

  9. Tricledrown 9

    N95 masks not being provided is absolutely ridiculous.

    People working in the isolation units should isolate to and from work and at home.

    They should receive a higher payment for the risks involved for them and their families and have regular breaks.

    The QR codes should be compulsorily used every where no entry until you have signed in or scanned.Not much to ask to make it easy to contact trace.

    Every body has to up our game no more burying heads in the sand

    • RedBaronCV 9.1

      Yes to everything but the QR codes. 20% of the population would need a new cell phone to do that.

      • Henry Filth 9.1.1

        Compared to the amount of money spent so far, dishing out free/subsidized cellphones wouldnt be overly expensive.

    • SPC 9.2

      Agree on the N 95 level masks for MI guests and staff.

      Agree again – MI staff should have a month on month off regime – and socially isolate while working (delivery of food etc, and use masks if on PT during the workign month).

      QR codes, when not at Level 1.

      And I would add – the MI guests should be confined for their room for the first week – we need to prevent any mixing of first and second week guests (Oz does this for the entire two weeks barring chaperoned weekly walks).

  10. Enough is Enough 10

    I saw someone in Raglan today wearing a mask

    • tc 10.1

      Good on them, they could be in a risk category or simply being cautious.

      With the cavalier attitude I'm seeing it’s a smart move.

  11. SPC 11

    While there was some reason for confidence that we could track and trace this – because its related to the MI cases already known. Until the chain to the student is known, and her contacts and their contacts are tested, there is a high risk this will go runaway – and lead to a merry chase.

    Bar owners, night club owners and churches may not be operating this weekend in Auckland.

    • SPC 11.1

      Then again, they will be. The government has determined given they know the source they can play detective.

      The risk is there is a person (someone like a cafe worker) between the known source and this student and its their contacts who will be out and about this weekend.

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