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Covid19 is a bastard

Written By: - Date published: 9:25 am, May 11th, 2020 - 128 comments
Categories: australian politics, health, health and safety, uk politics, uncategorized, us politics - Tags: ,

We are heading towards decision time. Does Aotearoa New Zealand loosen up and head back to a semi normal life?

There are many loud voices supporting loosening things up. Particularly those of the right, National, business interests and owners of suburban shopping malls. Why can’t we just get back to normal?

The problem is that normal is years and a vaccine away if ever.

Pretty well all kiwis are proud that the Government responded early and directly. The infection rate started to spike in the same way that it has in other nations. But because of the staunch position taken by the Government and the overwhelming support shown by kiwis we appear to have it under control.

The right have struggled. The Government was too staunch yet not staunch enough. Various permutations of this position have been argued for the past few weeks.

Their latest tactic is to attack the Government for allegedly not getting the legal technicalities right.

I thought that David Parker gave a pretty good response. Bridges attacks were the sort of attacks you would expect from a first year law student and Parker’s response was the sort of response you would expect from a law professor.

Their other attack point has been to claim that Australia has also managed to squash the curve but they were able to get a take out coffee and a haircut and they were able to go to the beach.

The situation is more complex and the relative positions are not so different. But it appears that Australia may not be so conclusively winning the war and eradication may not be in its game plan. Its infection rate has not been squashed. This brings into question suggestions that we could have a Trans Tasman bubble.

As the virus has shown in Japan and in Singapore you may think that you have it under control and then it neatly sidesteps arrangements and keeps on spreading.

Australia is starting to get the same nutty lock down protests that the United States has experienced.

And they appear to think that Bill Gates is implicated.

There is even a kiwi strain appearing and protests are proposed for this Saturday the 16th of May. I suspect that it is linked to the anti vaxxer movement.

Meanwhile the United States and the United Kingdom are moving ahead with plans to loosen up personal distancing restrictions at a time that their infection rates have plateaued rather than are declining. To be frank this is a recipe for disaster. Stand by as infection rates surge again.


128 comments on “Covid19 is a bastard”

  1. Andre 1

    A sensible decision on whether to relax restrictions really depends on some quite detailed information about individual cases that shouldn't be released to the public, for good privacy reasons. Another factor is whether that relaxation can and will include maintaining much tighter bubbles around those that may have any conceivable risk of catching COVID then subsequently spreading it.

    If the few recent new cases have all been either recent repatriations that were still in quarantine or within-bubble close contacts of known cases that were immediately linkable, then that points towards it being feasible to relax restrictions.Especially if extra provision and support is given to strengthen the bubble around those hundred-odd remaining active cases. Preferably also around the recently recovered for another week or two, just to be sure.

    But if the recent cases have included any out-of-bubble transmissions that required a genuine contact tracing effort, then to me that strongly points to maintaining level 3.

    • mickysavage 1.1

      I gather that recent cases have either been Waitakere Hospital nurse infections, which is a big worry, or returning nationals or existing bubbles. This tends to suggest we can cautiously loosen up. But it will only take one random transmission and we may have to go back into lockdown.

      • Andre 1.1.1

        Yeah, that's my impression too. But I've got niggling in the back of my head that a few days ago one of the new cases was reported as still under investigation. Which worries me.

        So I would hope that a move to level 2 would include doing stuff like helping strengthen bubbles around existing cases and their carers. Such as ensuring groceries get contactless delivered to the bubble, rather than someone within the bubble needing to go shopping. If someone within an active case bubble has work available and needs the income, then income support to allow them to stay strictly within the bubble would be a good thing.

      • RedLogix 1.1.2

        But it will only take one random transmission and we may have to go back into lockdown.

        No I don't think so. The purpose of the lockdown was never to eradicate the virus; it was to buy us time to get in place test and track, plus all the other medical system tools needed to manage a much longer term crisis.

        We will get more cases as we move out of lockdown; but if we can find and isolate them quickly enough the virus should not get out of control. I'm not underestimating the challenge this represents, but it is absolutely the only path out of lockdown.

        And as your OP shows, there will be a rising level of resistance to lockdown, how ever deplorable this may feel to many. And we can be certain our media will exploit it to undermine Ardern; some media would sooner see thousands of dead kiwis than this govt have another term. Maintaining lockdown indefinitely simply feeds this risk.

        Oh and a great title for the OP. Early in January Xi Xinping used the term “demon virus”, a phrase that has stuck in my mind. ‘Bastard’ would be the equivalent in our vernacular.

        • KJT

          Agree. It is all about being able to limit and control any outbreaks.

          Zero cases, eradication, may not be possible for many months.

          Complacency. Thinking we have licked it. Is a big threat.


          And the people who would rather have thousands dead, than see the Government have another term.

      • RedBaronCV 1.1.3

        I spend my time worrying that one of those Waitakere cases lives in a bubble with an essential worker who has been down at Macca's drive in for the whole of level 3.

        The Matamata cluster still seems to be producing after 54 or so days so that's 4 cycles. 

        Us risk adverse would probably be happier with about 28 days of zero. I'm not personally too keen on inter regional travel yet – Queens birthday is coming up – but accept that there may need to be more targeted assistance for some areas. And schools are big bodies of people  busy transmitting.

  2. Dennis Frank 2

    There's a mood of rebellion out there, which the Nats hope to surf into the election.  Too much a gamble.  Resurgence of the virus would topple them off the board.

    Govt is up against human nature:  tired of onerous constraints, the people seek escape from the confinement.  Rule-breakers were all over the place again.

    So I expect the plan later today will be for a middling trajectory – further easing, but built-in delays to gratification.  So the orthodox will feel reassured by the govt's use of the precautionary principle, and the rebels will ignore it regardless.  Cops & courts will have to improvise their fakery around enforcement.

    • swordfish 2.1


      There's a mood of rebellion out there, which the Nats hope to surf into the election … Govt is up against human nature:  tired of onerous constraints, the people seek escape from the confinement.

      Recent Research NZ polling suggests the bulk of the population remain more cautious than the Govt.

      Eg (1) 60% wanted Level 4 extended longer a few weeks back,

      Eg (2) In latest poll, only 36% said they intended to widen their bubble under Alert level 3.

      • observer 2.1.1

        Yes, all surveys have shown high levels of public support (the professional ones, not the self-selecting online fake polls).

        Two reasons why that has not been highlighted in the news:

        1) These have not been TV1/TV3 polls. The networks highlight their own (fair enough, they spend a lot of money on them). They pay little attention to other polls.

        2) It's easy to fill up news/interview time with assorted spokespeople, who naturally represent their own group (retail, hospitality, tourism etc). But they don't represent public opinion overall. Only polls do that.

        So there hasn't been a "mood of rebellion" at all. Not by any measure (polls, petitions, protests, even the kind of thing we've seen overseas).

  3. RedLogix 3

    So far our govt has responded to the immediate crisis admirably. We are moving into phase that as your OP outlines, is immeasurably more complex. So far we are three months into this event and most people and nations have been able to go through lockdown and draw down on their accumulated resources. Not all, but enough to sustain the expectation of a return to something we recognise and familiar and normal. 

    When this momentum of the old normal slows sufficiently there will be a cascade of consequences. The pandemic crisis is uncovering new trends to bolster the arguments of both pessimists and optimists. All we can be certain of is that we need to dump our old clichés and be prepared for the challenge of new puzzles.

  4. Pat 4

    The logical thing to do is to wait for at least a complete cycle of zero new cases however the herd immunity (unspoken) crowd are applying (promoted by National) sufficient pressure as to make that unworkable…..we are going to have to hope we are exceedingly lucky.

    Relying on luck is not what I call a 'strategy'….it has a definite orange hue.

    • ScottGN 4.1

      I’m not one of the herd immunity crowd or a National supporter and I’ve supported the government actions right through the lockdown.

      But it’s time to move cautiously towards what will be the new normal now. In essence the public are making the decision for the government. People have started to slip free of their bubbles. There simply won’t be anymore tolerance for another 14 day cycle of a potential infection period at level 3. And I don’t see Ardern ordering troops onto the streets to enforce it.

      We’ve given it our best shot and done remarkably well. Hopefully we’ve managed to overcome the shortcomings of our preparedness at the start of the crisis and can properly manage any outbreaks which will probably be a certainty.

      • Pat 4.1.1

        "There simply won’t be anymore tolerance for another 14 day cycle of a potential infection period at level 3."

        I agree….from a vocal minority (supported by vested interests, political and business via media)….the support of the majority however to complete the job started remains.

        It wouldnt require troops in the streets to enforce.

    • Grantoc 4.2

      I think you're being far to risk adverse Pat.

      If you look at this from the perspective of what the data is telling us (which is what the public health experts go about ad nauseum), then, based on yesterdays figures the percentage of NZders actually dying from Covid is 1.4% of the total number of positive cases. Turning that figure around, this means that 98.6% of all those tested as positive are surviving.

      These kinds of percentages have been consistent throughout the pandemic.

      There has also been significant improvements in tracking and tracing since the Min of Health got organised to combat this virus. Its therefore entirely reasonable to assume that the risk of New Zealanders dying from this virus is now miniscle.

      Conversely the risk of damage to our overall well being far far outweighs the risk of the virus now. From my point of view the stats provide a compelling reason to move to level 2.


      • Pat 4.2.1

        If the strategy is elimination (as we are informed it is) then there is no logic in abandoning that strategy until it is achieved UNLESS it becomes apparent the strategy is failing to achieve its goal……the question of being risk averse was decided when we entered level 4.

        "Conversely the risk of damage to our overall well being far far outweighs the risk of the virus now. From my point of view the stats provide a compelling reason to move to level 2."

        Which stats?….the NZ covid case stats provide no such compelling case…indeed the contrary.

        "Park said health workers were trying to contact about 1940 people who had been at the three clubs and other places nearby. The mayor said gains made against the virus were now threatened "because of a few careless people"."


        The jobs are gone regardless….the impact on the economy of extending restrictions is marginal.


        • Macro

          Pat, I think you misunderstand the use of "elimination" in this instance. Yes the govt strategy at the present time is elimination. But here the word is being used as a verb, not a noun. We are currently in the process of elimination. As Ashleigh said in one of the briefings about a week ago, elimination doesn't mean there will be no more cases popping up. The final phase of the programme is not elimination, but eradication. Under eradication then the goal is for no more cases. Again eradication is used more as a verb – a process to work through – rather than a noun. When there are no more cases, and every case has recovered or died then we can say we have eradicated the disease.

          • Pat

            The expectation was that any 'cases popping up' would be from offshore..i.e. returning nationals or employees servicing international trade….hence the plan to make sure there was no undetected community transmission.

            Eradication would require the virus to be eliminated globally…something we (in NZ) have no control over.

            • Macro

               the plan to make sure there was no undetected community transmission.

              And essentially we have achieved that. Over the weekend there were over 16,000 tests undertaken in NZ, targeted, and random, and of those, only 4 positive cases resulted, all of which were readily traced to previous cases in an existing cluster, or returning travellers, and all were in isolation. 

              • Pat

                We have almost achieved that…so why give up when we are almost there?

                • Grantoc

                  I think to continue to try and achieve complete elimination/eradication will mean being in a perpetual state of 'almost there'. What would be the point if this meant, as it probably does, staying in level 3 or 4?

                  Hanging on to a fantasy that we're 'almost there' means tracking down every last covid virus. That's never going to happen – and, to repeat, what would be the point? 

                  Better to go to levels 2 and 1 and to manage Covid through effective tracking and tracing systems. And, as well, to focus on finding an effective  vaccination.

                  • Pat

                    As said before …"UNLESS it becomes apparent the strategy is failing to achieve its goal"…we havnt even given it one cycle in level 3 to show its worth.

              • bill

                And wasn't there something about that over-seas traveler having an incubation period that was longer than the two weeks of required quarantine?

        • Grantoc

          A couple of points in response Pat.

          Effective strategic planning means that strategists adapt and adjust as new information becomes available. Insofar as the Covid elimination strategy the government is pursuing is concerned, it has already done this to some extent. 

          An extremely important consideration for the government in continuing to pursue an elimination strategy is the degree to which it benefits the country verses costs the country. If analysis suggests that we should stay at level 3 so the the elimination strategy can continue to track down a virus here or a small outbreak there, is it worth the sacrifice of say another 50,000 jobs? or the delay in providing cancer treatment? I say it is not worth it. At which point the strategy should be abandoned, unless it can be significantly modified.

          The stats I was referring to above are the NZ stats. Especially the percentage of deaths to confirmed cases.

          Many jobs are gone, and many more will go – but by moving to level 2 and eventually 1, it means that there is a much better chance of saving (even growing) jobs and the economy, which in turn contributes to our overall well being.

          In my opinion its not worth staying in level 3 to pursue an elimination strategy that produces limited and decreasing returns, whilst having the side effect of destroying the economy. I doubt even Jacinda can charm NZders to agree to that.


          • Pat

            and when the lock down needs to be reimposed (either regionally or nationally) you'll be the first to support it no doubt.

            "In my opinion its not worth staying in level 3 to pursue an elimination strategy that produces limited and decreasing returns, whilst having the side effect of destroying the economy."

            And there is the false dichotomy….extending the lockdown or not will not stop the destruction of the economy…that is destroyed by the virus and the international impacts, not whether we can go to the pub or restaurant or not.

            and a difference of 50,000 jobs…on what basis?

          • RedBaronCV

            That always sounds "very persuasive". But the reality is we are talking a about a few weeks in what for most people is a very long lifetime. There are also costs in not having that little extra time. People like me who would be far more active out and about if we had had more zero days rather than dodging going out to the movies. And from overseas experience it only takes a few who are highly social to spread it far and wide

      • RedLogix 4.2.2

        These kinds of percentages have been consistent throughout the pandemic.

        It varies wildly from country to country. So far there are 4.2 million confirmed cases globally and 282 thousand deaths. That's a Case Fatality Ratio of 6.8%

        Now you can argue with both the number of actual cases and the number of deaths; both are likely to under-report the actual numbers. As testing extends more broadly across populations we will get better data and models. There is a lot to learn about immunity and whether having serum antibodies implies anything for herd immunity. And as we dig into excess deaths statistics we'll get a full picture of the real human impact of this pandemic. 

        But for now these are the numbers we have to consider as the global base case, and right now it shows that if you are diagnosed with CV19 there is about a 1:4 chance you will become seriously ill, and a 1:15 chance you will die. 

        There are many concerning aspects to this new virus; perhaps the worst is it's high infectivity before symptoms appear, and relatively long delay before it kills. This means it is under almost no selective pressure to become less lethal over time. Indeed it could easily mutate into something worse.

        Its therefore entirely reasonable to assume that the risk of New Zealanders dying from this virus is now miniscle.

        Maybe this is true for NZ, but these mainly apply because of our full lockdown. But lockdowns while effective, are not efficient. I also support moving to Level 2 soon,  not because the perceived threat is low, it will because we are now better prepared to manage it with more efficient methods.

        Level 2 will mean we can move about and most people will cautiously welcome this, BUT this does not mean the crisis is over. It's now moving into a more complex and riskier phase; we cannot assume life is going back to 'normal'. 

        • KJT

          The number of deaths and disabilities as a result, of Covid are definitely understated.

          As the deaths and disabilities from other causes, because hospitals are full of covid cases etc, have seldom been totalled, for one.

          If we had gone the way of Italy, Sweden and the USA, how much over normal would our total excess deaths have been? Seen articles that suggest at least as many, as those who die directly from Coronavirus.

          • McFlock

            I think that will come out in the wash. The excess deaths might be unrelated causes but associated with health system overload, or they might be misdiagnosed/undiagnosed/contributingcause covid.

            In ICD10 there is a diagnostic code that might cover deaths due to lack of medical care access, which would be pinged if there were no ICU beds clear. But also, many other causes of death will decrease at this time (NZ might actually be useful as a reference for the non-covid health effects of lockdown).

            So if traffic mortality goes down, but the proportion of traffic admissions who die increases, that might say something. And if all other causes not plausibly covidian go down, maybe an increase in pneumonia deaths indicates misdiagnosed covid.

            • ianmac

              Didn't a credible poll in US show that about 70-80% were unwilling to go to restriction free state? Imagine similar in NZ.

              • KJT

                A, during the lockdown, poll said 83% supported the Governments actions.

                The support for continued restrictions is likely still high.

                However, the less cases we have the harder it is to justify level 3 restrictions.

                Community support is vital for restrictions to work, so they have to be seen to be proportionate.

                I actually trust this Government to sensibly assess and balance the risks, on their record so far.

  5. Sabine 5

    Unless the government is willing to pay all of the bills not currently being paid it will have to 'open' up. Its actually quite simple, no one in this country who was not on a benefit before lockdown can pay their bills in full on (best case scenario) 585.00 per week. https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12330543

    And offering people loans in a world were nothing is assured and nothing can be planned is not gonna cut it, is not gonna work, and above all is not helpful at all. Despite what the dear nicely paid suits in parliament (of all sides and all shades of beige) may say. 

    I would also like to see something happening about the need for proper access to medical care for pregnant women about to give birth, surely we can do better then fuck all and a port a shower on the road side for women in child birth  cause all of our hospitals are closed for business unless one has the virus.  Just to name one of the things that really needs to be addressed now before we start loosing women to child birth like we did in 1890. 

    But all of these things were well known going into lockdown, and as stated before let me repeat this again:

    "Going into lock down was the easy part, going out of is going to be the really hard and unpleasant part". And maybe that needs to be acknowledged. 

    As for the unemployed, maybe the Government can hire a few of the newly unemployed office workers and call takers  of NZ and let them answer phone calls to WINZ, i hear the WINZ drones have issues keeping up with the new generation of the wretched and refused of this country to help them get the financial benefits they need and are legally entitled too (as all benefits are pre-paid by the tax payer – just in case people forgot where the money comes from – the worker, not Gareth Morgan and his ilk)

    • A 5.1

      Jobseeker Support for a single person over 25 is $250ish a week net.  Chuck in an Accommodation Supplement and you still aren't up to the generous level of wage subsidy.  It's going to be a secondary shock to everyone (many of whom thought they wouldn't never need a benefit).

    • The Al1en 5.2

      As I've told you before, I take home less than $585 per week and pay all my bills, so to repeat the lie no one can pay their bills on the wage subsidy is still factually incorrect.

      • ScottGN 5.2.1

        The net weekly pay from the wage subsidy once tax and KiwiSaver are deducted is $475.00. As for managing on it, doesn’t that rather depend on what your weekly outgoings were before you needed to rely on it? Not many people will have landlords in a position to reduce their rent for example, and in Auckland at least average rent will certainly take a sizeable chunk of the subsidy. 

        • The Al1en

          You'd have to search for the previous exchange on the subject to find my comments that for many it would be a struggle and/or impossible, but the fact remains, a blanket statement this isn't possible, just isn't true.

          • Blazer

            You are correct.

            The same logic applies to  homes being unaffordable I guess.

            There will always be some who..can afford them.

        • KJT

          A family living in Auckland will be paying that in rent alone.

          Even in Northland, rent starts at $300/house.

          And, if you are a small business paying $11000 a month in commercial lease, not unusual…….

          Of course the malls and landlords, should come to the party as well, after the money most have been making. But only a few have,

  6. AB 6

    I fear that the same sort of Kiwi 'she'll be rightism' that has given us such a lethal adventure tourism industry and so many workplace deaths, will also undo the good work done to date on COVID-19.

  7. Muttonbird 7

    Open the schools, they are inherently disciplined places full of routine and all comers and goers are known. Schools can be traced.

    Everything else where you can't practice distance stays shut.

  8. Oh gee …. maybe one should show up to the NZ protests (in a mask) with a sign demanding more funding for vaccine development ….

  9. Kay 9

    There was a terrible bullying culture in NZ before this, even amongst 'professionals.' Some things never change. 

  10. RichardP 10

    My level 2 rule would be "If alcohol is involved (or likely to be), then it's a no. Other businesses fine proved they practice distancing and contact tracing.." – given many of the clusters NOT from old folks homes are from situations where alcohol (and the close mixing that comes with it) were present (Bluff wedding, Matamata St Patricks day, Boom rock wedding, Korean night club etc.)

  11. weka 11

    Re the anti-vaxxer communities, we really need to take a step back and consider what is going on there. Hating on them, shunning them, ridiculing them will not make them go away, and will almost certainly radicalise the majority of them who are fairly ordinary NZers. The extremists and the manipulators we can deal with differently, but most people who have concerns about vaccinations, 5G, GE foods, fluoridation and so on, have some basis for their general unease with the state of technology in the world. Making this a fight between anti-science and science is supreme will cause wider divisions and is the same radicalising split that is happening in other areas. The right will use this to further create a Trumpian culture in NZ.

    Instead, we have the option of calling in. Instead of "I'm right, your wrong" (and seriously, does anyone believe that will actually work with most people?), we can find common ground and build working relationships that are the core of healthy community.

    If we believe instead that are a nation state that should be all on the same page, that community and relationship don't matter,  then we (progressives) will make our own contribution to Trumpian culture in NZ.

    To be clear, I'm not suggesting us all singing kumbaya, or that we accommodate behaviour that is anti-social or dangerous. We can still disagree, sometimes vehemently, and we still need collective, thoughtful approaches to dealing with the extremes. I'm talking about understanding that we are in this together and that the basis of good politics and society needs to be respect for people (as distinct from their ideas).

    Understanding that we have things in common, and that there are actually third party actors involved who have a whole another agenda entirely will free us up to break the binary we are currently stuck in.

  12. peterh 12

    Be very careful.  The great aussie  myth , Melbourne 100 new cases in 4 days, 1 bubble at a meatworks 76 cases , one of the infected meat workers wife works at a aged care now its in the aged care . yesterday 8 new cases 4 at meatworks. 4 from RANDOM TESTING and today had to close down a new health care centre

    • Pat 12.1

      A pattern repeating all round the world…and we are on the cusp of avoiding it.

      Sadly it looks like we will end up doing a half arsed job thanks to political pressure.

      • ScottGN 12.1.1

        It’s not just political pressure though Pat. A friend of mine is desperate to see her grandchildren. Another friend broke lockdown rules last week to go and get her mother and move her into her house. Walking about Auckland nowadays I see all sorts of people out in groups that must surely be out of their bubbles. You just can’t lock the population in their homes endlessly.

      • Poission 12.1.2

        A single ember can re light the forest.

      • swordfish 12.1.3

        A pattern repeating all round the world…and we are on the cusp of avoiding it.

        Sadly it looks like we will end up doing a half arsed job thanks to political pressure.

        Pretty much my view in a nutshell.

  13. Sanctuary 13

    If the virus comes in waves overseas that require more lockdowns, then aiming for eradication with closed borders looks an attractive economic aim.

  14. bill 14

    Australia is starting to get the same nutty lock down protests that the United States has experienced.

    It's not fair or accurate to suggest that all of the people protesting lock-down are "nutty". People on very low incomes who can barely muster two brass farts in the best of times have to find a way to put food on the table and pay bills….on something like 80% of "not two brass farts" in some of the better situations.

    The response differs around the world, but when a government says people must stay at home, then that government has a duty or obligation to make sure people are provided for. And that hasn't been happening.

    On the larger picture, while I understand governments and businesses wanting a return to normal economic activity, I'm not convinced that sentiment's wholly shared by the public. Sure, people want some things to return, but as for a 'cut and paste' jobby from November 2019….yeah, nah.

    And then there's that opportunity to have a wee deek at physics and have our future guided by reality rather than ideology….seemingly not up for discussion and so slipping us by.

    • AB 14.1

      "It's not fair or accurate to suggest that all of the people protesting lock-down are "nutty". People on very low incomes who can barely muster two brass farts in the best of times…."

      Such an important distinction this – prolonged lock-downs have to be accompanied by the bailout of citizens. Governments need to chuck new money in at the bottom and tax it out at the top. The latter can wait for a while.

      • bill 14.1.1

        Kyle Kulinski provides a pretty reasonable take on lock downs and consequences or expectations in this vid. It revolves around a woman in the US who has just been jailed for seven days because she refused to not open her salon…

  15. Wensleydale 15

    It's nice to see we haven't progressed far beyond baying mobs chanting "Burn the witch!" I mean, "Arrest Bill Gates!"? I try hard not to ridicule people like this because it's not terribly constructive… but they just make it so fucking easy. I work with a guy who spends much of the day watching fringe videos on the internet. He entertains us all with his barking mad conspiracy theories about 5G, Illuminati mind control and the Deep State pumping drugs into the water to pacify the populace. (He doesn't respond well to comments about the Lizard People infiltrating contemporary society as a precursor to a full-scale invasion. That's just silly, apparently.) Sometimes we just let him talk because it's so thigh-slappingly hilarious, but most of the time we're just left speechless. I mean, where do you even start with this stuff?

    • weka 15.1

      Start with understanding that if we put the conspiracy stuff aside, are there still concerns about Gates, his influence and what he does? Are there reasons to distrust the state? Is high tech out of control and needs reining in via ethics and other values? That's not necessarily going to build common ground with your work mate, but it does shift *us out of shun and ridicule being our natural inclination. Then the issues of tech and govt become about ideas and politics rather than writing people off. 

      • Sacha 15.1.1

        Comes down to how much energy we have to be unpaid and unqualified therapists for the fears of those around us. So many others we can be helping first.

        • weka

          Much important therapeutic work gets done unpaid and by people with experience but no formal qualifications /shrug

          I don't see how that's particularly relevant though. Apart from some basic compassion and respect skills, I'm not suggesting everyone has to get into each other's heads.

      • Wensleydale 15.1.2

        You're a better person than me, Weka. And no, I'm not being facetious.

      • francesca 15.1.3

        I for one object to a billionaire( who got to that position with some pretty unpleasant business practices,) having so much power and influence .

        "While the efforts of fellow billionaire philanthropist Michael Bloomberg to use his wealth to win the presidency foundered amid intense media criticism, Gates has proved there is a far easier path to political power, one that allows unelected billionaires to shape public policy in ways that almost always generate favorable headlines: charity."

        "The Nation found close to $250 million in charitable grants from the Gates Foundation to companies in which the foundation holds corporate stocks and bonds: Merck, Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, Vodafone, Sanofi, Ericsson, LG, Medtronic, Teva, and numerous start-ups—with the grants directed at projects like developing new drugs and health monitoring systems and creating mobile banking services."

        Are we to be governed by corporates, dictating education and public health?


        This really smacks of the rich giving to themselves and each other, and avoiding taxes at the same time 

        Pay your bloody taxes and let elected governments develop public health policies

        • KJT

          Their influence on education has been the worst effect for the USA. 

          We can see what dumbing down does, right now.

    • RedLogix 15.2

      Lizard People infiltrating contemporary society as a precursor to a full-scale invasion. That's just silly, apparently.

      Why does no-one take us geckos seriously?

      I mean, where do you even start with this stuff?

      Here is metaphor that might help. I spent a fair chunk of my life tramping and more than a few times I got 'geographically embarrassed' as we like to put it. The mistake most people make is pushing onward in the hope they may stumble across some clue that will help. It rarely does. 

      The trick is to stop, sit down, get warm and have a bite to eat if you can. Then think back to when you can last remember you knew where you were. Then carefully reconstruct the steps needed to get there.

      Well the interesting part with most of these conspiracy theories is they almost always contain at least some small kernel of truth. That's the point where you knew you were on the track.  I had a close friend who had bought into the whole faked moon landing package, but rather than confront the hot mess head on, I took it back to things we both personally knew for certain were true about the event and slowly worked it from there.

      For most people, this kind of off-track adventure is a matter of trust. Either the official narrative is missing or deficient and they start searching for alternatives. This is not in itself a bad thing, because the gated institutional narrative is often manipulated in ways we should be questioning. Finding points of trust (and they can often be quite small things) is the key to not getting lost.

    • joe90 15.3

      The virus is a bioweapon deployed by China so Soros and assorted jack-booted globalists working with Bill Gates and the UN can mass-medicate the citizenry with a supposed vaccine while the sons and daughters of liberty are sitting ducks under the freedumb hating socialist diktats of social distancing and mandatory isolation.

      • Wensleydale 15.3.1

        Thanks for clearing that up for me, mate. Cheers.

      • AB 15.3.2

        Darn – you're right. I thought Crooked Hillary and Sleepy Joe had bought the virus back from China to destroy the greatest economy in the history of the world. But I like your theory better.

        • Dukeofurl

           Some  hard line Catholic Prelates have joined the chorus . In one strongly worded sentence, it claims that "centuries of Christian civilization" could be "erased under the pretext of a virus" and an "odious technological tyranny" established in its place. "

          "A letter signed by such Catholic notables as the German Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller,[one of Benedicts right hand men]  Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano from Italy and Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, the former bishop of Hong Kong, claims that the pandemic is being exploited to restrict basic rights "disproportionately and unjustifiably." It also maintains that the contagiousness of the novel coronavirus has been overstated by authorities, referring to unnamed "authoritative voices in the world of science and medicine" to back its claim.

          It strongly criticizes governments around the world for the lockdowns imposed in a bid to stem the spread of the virus, saying that "the imposition of these illiberal measures is a disturbing prelude to the realization of a world government beyond all control." 

          In one strongly worded sentence, it claims that "centuries of Christian civilization" could be "erased under the pretext of a virus" and an "odious technological tyranny" established in its place. 


    • bill 15.4

      I used to live next door to a guy who ran an aged care home and one day he started on earnestly  about "Greylons" and "the Manhattan Project" and such like.

      I guess I could have focused on what he was thinking and dismissed him as mad or whatever, but I focused on how he was thinking, and realised he was no different to me or anyone else I've known.

      Maybe that's a way around an urge to just dismiss people?

  16. Rosemary McDonald 16

    We towed a trailer  loaded with household stuff from the Waikato to the Far Far North on Saturday.

    Did our research, and one of the Offspring applied for permission to travel with us to help with heavy lifting so we didn't have to ask for help from outside our bubble.

    We wisely planned to stay overnight before driving back south (so we can travel up in our Bus tomorrow) and politely turned down offers of staying with friends….didn't want to bubble break…but the motel down the road refused to take us because they're 'only allowed to accommodate Essential Workers.'

    I could have directed her to the Rules for Inter Regional Travel in Level 3 which allow for home relocations, but she had got it so firmly into her head that only Essential Workers were allowed to travel and she'd be 'audited and get into trouble ' that I really couldn't be bothered bursting her bubble.

    Luckily we have friends up there who run a backpackers…closed under lockdown….who were happy for us to stay. They had even left food and fresh fish for us. We never actually saw them ….bubbles etc…so we owe them bigtime when we can finally meet up again in person.

    We had got all our paperwork in order,  as well as a brief explanatory account of why we were Traveling all neatly packaged in clearfile pockets for a quick and clean flick at the checkpoints/roadblocks. 

    Not needed. Not a single checkpoint despite numerous marked police cars on the road.

     There was more traffic on the road than we expected in the built up areas, but way less than normal so the the trip was much quicker. The Auckland motorway was a breeze. Traffic, but flowing happily along at 100kph. None of that stupid shit at the  southbound on ramps on the Northern  motorway, which had us wondering if it was just Shopping that creates the hideous bottlenecks even in off peak times normally.

    We did have minor car trouble…needed a computer technician/mechanic to reset a warning light and test drive the car….all done 'contactless ' and maintaining required 2 meter gap.  Couldn't Paywave as the mechanic had not been able to source a capable machine…such has been the rush.

    So.  Why this boring tale?

    We bought a property, sight unseen, in the first few days of  Level 4.

    Signed documents, witnessed via a WhatsApp video call.  All very new and scary for dyed in the wool Luddites.

    Have been through considerable stress trying to get shit done that needed to get done, but we have got there without too much bloodshed and only a few tears. Patience has been the key.

    Things have Changed.  We Old People have adapted to these changes, and what could have been difficult  was not.  Businesses have adapted,  and are still functioning and are managing  to maintain safe distancing. Some clearer signage might help at the service stations, but we could still get the vital BP mocha and the double wrapped pies.

    We were surprised that some acquaintances Up North accepted our rule they could not help us…. some of those folk tend to be  healthily suspicious and dismissive of government imposed controls(quite a few are proud 'anti -vaxxers' even)…but there seems to be an aura of cautiousness and compliance. 

    Level 2 can come with some of the existing controls with few problems…IMHO.

    Checkpoints still…even just to remind folk. 

    Open shops other  than supermarkets,  with the same social distancing rules.  Please…because I'm not buying new bath towels on-line.

    Schools…I don't know.  I suspect that if I had school age children or mokos  I'd be wanting them at home still. Be interesting that one.

    Keep the borders closed.  To even the Aussies. We don't need overseas workers to come here to be exploited…hire our own, train them and pay them well.

    When it's 'safe'…allow travelers in but on strict self funded three week Quarantine. No exceptions.  


    • Sacha 16.1

      Congrats on the house.

      • Rosemary McDonald 16.1.1


        Literally over the road from our favorite free park over in our Bus. Saw it on Trademe, got good mates to check out access for the Bus and the Wheelchair.  Tick for both, and the price good enough that we can afford required modifications. Might realize the dream of having an accessible holiday place for mates who need it. 😉😉

        • patricia

          So pleased for you Rosemary.  You have moved North in time to miss the worst of the winter as well.  Keep well.  All the best.

          • Rosemary McDonald

            Had our first truly disgusting damp amd fogggy Waikato winter morning the other day.

            I was doing a wee jig, complete with heel-clicks, as I found a gap in the trailer for the chainsaw.

            We are finally going home.🙂

    • RedLogix 16.2

      Best wishes with your new home. yes

      The good news is most people are doing the best they can in this changed world.

      • Rosemary McDonald 16.2.1

        Thanks RL. Having no Home of our own to go to when Level 4 struck was confronting to us.

        We thought we'd be fine so long as we had the Bus. The NZMCA closing all 40 of our club parking  sites…an overreaction IMHO…will have rattled a few permanent but happy bus dwellers.

        Sharing with son and daughter in law, both working fulltime outside the home,  created stress. More for them, as they were concerned about bringing home The Virus and making the OPs sick.

        I admit to having some concerns that we are not being told the truth about the origins of Te Virus and how it has been transmitted. Having extended family in Wuhan has given us some insight.

        But what has been interesting is while I gave been outside over the past week loading the trailer and repacking our Bus the opportunity has arisen for some interesting chats with passing random walkers.

        Most seem content with the Lockdown and how our gummint have handled things. None give a toss about healthworkers wearing masks  because that is not their lives.

        Most talk about WHO and their delay in declaring a pandemic and them seemingly being confident that China had it under control. Also most remember, as I do, that when the genome of Te Virus was first mapped…initial comments from experts declared it to be obviously a construct, made in a lab.  Now, today, almost impossible to find links to those initial summations with the accepted narrative quickly shifting to the Wet Market.

        Now, there's a shift back again….all very interesting …and a pox on MSN for the way this saga has been handled at their end.

        They are the true bastards on this.

    • Anne 16.3

      Not a boring tale at all. Interesting and enlightening. My congrats too.

      • Rosemary McDonald 16.3.1

        Ta Anne.  We thought we'd find a level of rebellion Up North.  Seems most folks getting on with it from a distance and enjoying being able to get out on the water and catch a fish.

        Looking forward to catching up with other locals we have got to know over the years…politically very diverse.

        Once I have unpacked.😉

    • KJT 16.4

      Good to hear you've found a home.

      • Rosemary McDonald 16.4.1

        Three less homeless people. 😄(We have a mate going to move into our sleep out…another van dweller finding Lockdown tough.) 

        • KJT


          Currently only have family as basement dwellers.

          Covid has actually put rental accommodation within reach, of our usual rotating coach surfing youngsters.

    • Ad 16.5

      That's been a very long road for you Rosemary, and I wish you and your a swift settlement into the new place.

    • Molly 16.6

      Congratulations on the house, Rosemary.  All the best with the unpacking and settling in. 

      • Rosemary McDonald 16.6.1

        We don't have much stuff Molly…and the previous owners have left the place furnished. Clean and tidy….but fully furnished. Be like a treasure hunt. A bit weird going through someone else's cupboards…

        We took a hell of a punt buying sight unseen, and we were heavy on the 'good faiths '  when going unconditional.

        Looking over the place on the weekend  all seems in order. 

        They have even left us the old tractor. I've always wanted one of them.🙂

        • patricia

          Tractor!!  Rosemary you are full of surprises. Your own place is so important to well being.



        • Brigid

          A tractor!! How awesome. Glad you've found a place to settle. I like the north, tho in places it's a bit white (woops I didn't write that). But yeah politically very diverse.

    • ianmac 16.7

      A great story Rosemary. Hope you don't mind but reading between the lines it seems to me that some stress has gone out of your life and that you are relaxed and optimistic about your future. It is why I read it all carefully in case I missed any words. Thanks for the insight.

      • Rosemary McDonald 16.7.1

        Biggest stress over the past six weeks has been having our Bus locked in the mechanics yard…not knowing if she was repairable, how much  how long? If ever.  I had nightmares. I woke in tears.

        The stuff you read from me here…not stress…I'm righteously venting.

        My anger at the seeming lack of understanding from Our Leaders and their official advisors of how vulnerable healthcare workers and those they care for are will persist.

        Just today…two more nurses testing positive.  Why are healthworkers so vulnerable?

        Because they are almost always up close and personal to their patients.   'Hands on' really does mean hands on.  And unless your arms are 2 meters long…

        My disdain, no, disgust at the MOH has been cemented in place by the way they have handled the whole issue of PPE for front line workers.  Simply confirms what twenty years of engagement with them on disability issues taught us.  They really are a bunch of numpties.

        The good thing is that with the Big Move coming up we will be too busy sorting our own shit out.  And catching up on some fishing. Our new neighbour came for a chat while we unloaded the trailer the other day and remarked to Peter that he had never seen him before without a fishing rod hooked to his wheelchair. 

        OTOH got chatting with one of those frontline nurses the other day.  You remember, one of those who wore her own mask at work and was told not to wear it.

        One of the thousands who signed the petition begging the MOH to to show proper leadership and listen to those actually doing the work.

        Not to the ivory tower dwellers.


    • adam 16.8

      Welcome to the north, you going to like it up here. 

      The warmth helps. 

      • Brigid 16.8.1


        It's a good place.

        We could start a movement.


      • Rosemary McDonald 16.8.2

        We have been hanging around north of Kaitaia for about 6 years.  Just about tangata whenua….without the actual whenua.

        Good people. Gentle weather. Some solid activists on environmental issues….especially commercial water consents.

        Fishing great.  Two wheelchair accessible wharves…one two minutes away and the other half an hour.  Great pies.




  17. Blazer 17

    Deep,deep depression is inevitable.Unemployment will rocket after the wage subsidy runs out mid June.

    Sweden which has no lockdown had 36,000 new unemployed in one month.

    Identifying and isolating new outbreaks quickly may contain the virus but GDP and the economy will be fucked for years.

    12 years of maintaining a financial ponzi scheme guarantee that.

    • patricia 17.1

      Blazer,  yes you are right.  However,  the Budget may extend the wage subsidy till Sept so business has more chance of improved takings in the spring and summer. This has to be a collective effort. We need to support local enterprises,  and I don't mean Maccas.

      The young are agile tech savvy and geared for shorter termed employment. If Govt puts the right supports in place they and we will get through this.

      The GDP and the economy needed a revisit,  and covid-19 has forced that confrontation.  We need to guard against the wealthy organising the changes to suit their views rather than having it reflect our needs.

      In the "new way"  perhaps religions and foundations need to be taxpayers to avoid a "money go round" where they support other tax free wealthy groups. 



      • Blazer 17.1.1

        Where did you get your information that the Govt could extend the subsidy till September?

        • ianmac

          Robertson did say last Friday when asked about the ending of the wage subsidy that a new more focussed to need was needed. Then said wait for the Budget on Thursday.

          • Blazer

            Thx.Will look forward to this budget…should make the 'mother of all budgets' look like a ..gamete.

        • patricia

          Blazer  It is what I think is needed.. This is bigger than past problems and needs a bold vision. A further thing could be a Kiwi Corps which was hiring unemployed at a living wage to improve New Zealand in many ways.  We have permission to think outside the usual norms Right?

            And Robertson’s comments re budget.

  18. barry 18

    A problem for deciding whether to loosen up is the long tail. 

    When numbers drop very small, modelling becomes impossible and averages no longer apply.  What can happen is that a caregiver gets infected and goes home to self-isolate and gives it to one family member, who gives it to the one person they have contact with.  If pubs are open that one person can go and give it to 100 and we have a big cluster (like in S. Korea). Or 100+ people in a meatworks like Germany.

    At some stage we have to get better at stopping the chain.  That means proper quarantine with well-protected care-givers.  China did this in Wuhan as they saw that it would go on forever.  Even then they had another case crop up yesterday after weeks of none.

    Opening up is very risky.  A week of zeros would give me more comfort.

  19. Ad 19

    3 new cases today dammit

    • Poission 19.1

      which is troublesome is the self isolation part .

      Of the three cases – two are linked to the St Margaret's Hospital and Rest Home in Auckland, bot are nurses at Waitakere Hospital. 

      Both were asymptomatic throughout a stand-down period which they spend in precautionary self-isolation at home. They were tested as part of routine requirements to safely return to work but both returned positive results.

      Strong precautionary measures remain in place at the hospital and the St Margaret's facility, the Ministry of Health said. They couldn't rule out further cases in clusters.

      The third case is someone who travelled back from overseas. It is an imported case.

      • Pat 19.1.1

        Pretty concerning that health professionals appear unable to avoid contamination and transmission.

        • francesca

          Thats true Pat, but they have far more exposure 

          • Pat

            In the workplace yes…still would hope that there is considerable effort being applied to finding out why…and PDQ

        • Poission

          Maybe if they understood the risks of getting changed at work,and showering b4 they left,where transfer is the most significant problem,

          • gsays

            While I can not speak for all DHBs, locally, those initiatives were started by the workers. Even the wearing of scrubs (so they could be contained and laundered in-house) was opposed by the PTB.

            Again, it was because of senior staff doing what they knew to be right then their example was followed by junior staff, despite protestations of management.

      • RedBaronCV 19.1.2

        Did they return positive results and are still infectious or did the tests just pick up the residual virus  after they have had the no or mild symptoms period?

    • Incognito 19.2

      Two asymptomatic nurses picked up in a routine test.

      I would like to see the number of active cases drop much lower before we move to L2 but I think it is a fait accompli. We’ll find out in 2 hours.

      • Poission 19.2.1

        Asymptomatic cases can also shed virus,

        Among 76 residents in the point-prevalence surveys, 48 (63%) had positive rRT-PCR results, with 27 (56%) essentially asymptomatic, although symptoms subsequently developed in 24 of these residents (within a median of 4 days) and they were reclassified as presymptomatic. Quantitative SARS-CoV-2 viral loads were similarly high in the four symptom groups (residents with typical symptoms, those with atypical symptoms, those who were presymptomatic, and those who remained asymptomatic). It is notable that 17 of 24 specimens (71%) from presymptomatic persons had viable virus by culture 1 to 6 days before the development of symptoms. Finally, the mortality from Covid-19 in this facility was high; of 57 residents who tested positive, 15 (26%) died.


        • Incognito


          Asymptomatic nurses is the last we want or need. Hospital staff was apparently a major vector in Italy, particularly in Lombardy. They are also treating vulnerable patients who don’t have COVID-19 but require medical care for other reasons. It is a ticking time bomb.

          • Poission

            Yes but look at the money the DHB saved by not laundering nurses uniforms.

            • gsays

              Surgery cancelled, wards emptied and brand new scrubs in the hospital and management were forbidding nursing staff wearing scrubs.

              Initially it was because you couldn't be in the same uniform as consultants, then a week or so later, the claim that the laundry wouldn't cope.

              After being ignored, scrubs became allowed.

          • Andre

            I'm a little curious about how robust the definition of "recovered" has turned out to be. At the start of all this, it was defined as " Recovered cases are people who had the virus, are at least 10 days since onset and have not exhibited symptoms for 48 hours, and have been cleared by the health professional responsible for their monitoring."

            It doesn't appear to have changed in the meantime. Which strikes me as a little surprising given how much we've learned since then, and how much more testing capability we now have.

            I'm also curious about post-recovery advice – whether it's "you're good, go nuts" or something more like "it would be really good if you could still consider yourself contagious for another couple of weeks".

  20. Kay 20

    Yes, slightly different situation in Germany, but reads very familiar and could easily translate to here.


  21. observer 21

    Unfortunately the lockdown has shown us that "we" do well when the decisions are made for us, and "we" don't, when the decisions are left to us.

    I wish that wasn't true. I value my freedom. But the zeros (or very low numbers) that we celebrate are only happening because the government gave us no option. We couldn't mingle and spread the virus, because there was nowhere to mingle. As soon as we had more choices, a lot of people started making bad ones.

    Politicians always tell voters that they are wonderful people (that's how politicians keep their jobs). So Ardern is hardly likely to say "You guys are f***ing this up, and I don't trust you to do the right thing".

    We might get away with it if we move to level 2, and avoid the re-emergence of cases, as is happening in so many other countries. But let's not kid ourselves. It was 5 weeks at level 4 that did it. The government had to save us from ourselves.

  22. adam 22

    I'm more than happy to let the US and the UK do what they going to do. When infections go back up, more strikes are on the cards. Because people are sick to death watching friends die just by going to work. 

    What I'm more worried about here is people thinking this is done and dusted. We did good, no matter what the far right loony brigade may want to spin. But, the reality is Covid has no respect for past good actions. It's what we do in the now which matters. 

    • Rosemary McDonald 22.1


      I am taking some comfort though that so far, the region giving the most single digit salutes to the Rules(judging by the attention from the police) has not, so far, become a known cluster.  Which you'd think would happen with Counties Manukau residents going all BAU during leve 4 and 3.

      Or, it could just be that there a more cops per square k in that region.  

      Anyway…those who will be reckless will hopefully be reckless with other reckless folk. 

      We will just have to be vigilant and wear masks inside outside our bubbles.  Wash hands. Wear gloves.

      Behave like we have Te Virus.

      (Which is probably the most sensible thing Our Leader has said in the last seven weeks.)


    • Dukeofurl 22.2

      "But, the reality is Covid has no respect for past good actions. It's what we do in the now which matters. "

      Exactly. It just started with  one virus particle  in one person in Wuhan 6-8 months ago and has gone around the world.

      A second wave is almost certain and another etc , but starting from different points. Random mutations maybe small, but thats on average, a small variation in the  5 millionth person to be infected may be enough to tip it to attack the young and healthy instead.

  23. Robert Guyton 23

    Jacinda: "People will be at the movies, at sports-games, at concerts, but they will be spaced-out!"

  24. R.P Mcmurphy 24

    this represents a new beginning. exactly how it will play out is anybody's guess. my hope is that we stop trying to rev the guts out of the economy and aim for a a more relaxed and laidback lifestyle rather than incessant grubbing after loud noisy toys and punishing the environment. in specific examples we need to stop the removal of trees from Aucklands volcanic hills just to appease some self appointed guardians who want to impose their vision on the world without realising that the exotic covering acts a s water storage and filtration for the city's ecosystem in general and that cosmetic fixes are not the answer.



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