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Different responses to the Covid virus pandemic

Written By: - Date published: 10:11 am, March 16th, 2020 - 105 comments
Categories: capitalism, Donald Trump, health, jacinda ardern, politicans, uncategorized - Tags:

The right, typically, think that the best response, after making an absolute pig’s ear of the situation, is to try and buy a vaccine. Not for everyone’s benefit, only for your own people, presumably excluding illegals.

Yes this actually happened.

Trump’s handling of the crisis has been appalling.  Trying to buy his way out of the problem and then restricting it from the rest of humanity says so much of his values.

And America’s situation can be directly attributed to a decision made by Trump to cut butgets.

Meanwhile in New Zealand the OCR has been cut to 0.25% and Air New Zealand has announced a trading halt ahead of steep cuts to international travel, which will allow not much more than preservation of routes.

And the Government’s planned response to the crisis is to come tomorrow.

Maybe it is time to talk seriously about fundamental system change?

Now could be a perfect time to learn how to act as a community, to look after each other, reduce need for material wealth and learn to tread more lightly on the planet.

105 comments on “Different responses to the Covid virus pandemic ”

  1. Adam Ash 1

    The stuttering gap-riddled response of our 'government' is terrifying in its failure to protect us from ourselves.

    The international 'travel ban' allows travellers in with no medical or even temperature checks. They can travel internally by any means they like to their final destination – presumably visiting cafes, shops etc for refreshments and supplies as they go. Their 'self isolation' is on an 'honesty' basis. So a virus carrier can go from Auckland International terminal to Wellington by domestic flight then public transport – with 'only' the two rows either side 'affected' (according to their theories) That means the one traveller can have sat near five rows x 6 across = 30 on the 'plane, and another five rows x 4 = 20 on the bus totalling 50 'exposures' by the time they get off the bus outside the supermarket, then they catch an Uber home with their groceries having huffed their way around the store. So every 400-passenger international flight exposes 400 x 50 = 20,000 New Zealand residents to risk. Pathetic!

    • Sacha 1.1

      Temperature checks are useful only as theatre to reassure numpties.

    • observer 1.2

      For NZ residents coming home, what do you suggest?

      Not allowing them to? (presumably not letting them get on a plane at an overseas airport in the first place)


      Incarcerating all of them at Auckland airport, for 2 weeks?

      The vast majority of international visitors will be deterred by the new rules (who books a nice holiday in a beautiful country that you won't be allowed to see for 2 weeks?). So we're really talking about Kiwis here. Short of building huge prison camps, what are the alternatives to self-isolation?

      • SPC 1.2.1

        Backpackers arriving here on Monday said they had no intention of abiding by the new rules (budgeting for cheap overnight in hostels) .

        What about those coming in to spend their two week isolation in camper vans (no homestay or hotel booked) – will they be bound to a fixed place for the 2 weeks?

      • Adam Ash 1.2.2

        First rule: Don't let them mingle with the general population.

        Given the small numbers involved we should provide dedicated (i.e traveller-only) shuttle bus transport from arrival lounge to home destinations, with similarly dedicated domestic air transport where required. That way we have 'captured' the potential carriers and conveyed them to their homes in a way that eliminates risk to the wider population. This process will also ensure that they do go straight home, and provides for documenting their delivery and enables on-going monitoring.

        At present we have the ludicrous situation whereby each infected arrival can infect tens to hundred of innocent local people while the travellers get from airport to home.

        Its not rocket science, fer goodness sake!

        • Sacha

          we should provide dedicated (i.e traveller-only) shuttle bus transport from arrival lounge to home destinations

          Good idea. Shuttle drivers could be fully prepared and wearing protective gear. I shudder to think how fast it can spread to and through regular taxi drivers.

        • Incognito

          At present we have the ludicrous situation whereby each infected arrival can infect tens to hundred of innocent local people while the travellers get from airport to home.

          Its not rocket science, fer goodness sake!

          How did you work out those numbers, if it is not rocket science?

          • Adam Ash

            I thought the numbers were pretty self-explanatory. Eg an infected person sits among five rows with six people in each row gives exposure of 5 x 6 = 30 etc. Plus or minus the individual = 29, if you want to be pedantic. But the individual has also brushed against many others getting along the aisle, they have used the handle of the baggage locker etc etc. So in this example 30 is a good enough round number to give an idea of the potential risk, especially when you consider the arbitrariness of the 'two rows either side' risk zone.

            • Incognito

              You said this:

              At present we have the ludicrous situation whereby each infected arrival can infect tens to hundred of innocent local people while the travellers get from airport to home. [my italics]

              What isles, what rows, what transport are you talking about in order to derive these numbers?

              • Sacha

                Aisle F, where the loorolls live. 🙂

                • Anne

                  Nah. it's bread now. The panic merchants are cleaning out the bread shelves. It's the second time in as many days I've tried to buy my bread. They must be stuffing their freezers with them.

                  I gave vent to a few loud expletives today which I'm happy to say was well received by a couple of nearby shoppers.

      • Gabby 1.2.3

        Pop them in requisitioned ghost houses of course.

      • woodart 1.2.4

        you are using reasoned logic observer. will go over the heads of many

      • Craig H 1.2.5

        NZ residents and citizens can't be refused entry to NZ without changing the Immigration Act, so probably have to allow them to return and isolate as our principal measure.

    • SPC 1.3

      Sure require

      1. check of a pre booked location (hotel or homestay) and a medical certificate sign off before they fly here.

      2. the location is in the city of the airport they arrive at.

      3. transit to their location is organised for them.

  2. This event is rapidly demonstrating the impotence of nation states to mount an effective defense against a global threat.

    A few of us here understood the nature of the threat by late January. In my case largely because of well informed Chinese sources who have proven correct at least a fortnight before everyone else. The failure of multiple govts to fully understand this event is by now indefensible.

    There is only one thing that is going to work in addition to a total global travel ban … shut down the entire global economy (except for core essential services, utilities, transport, food and pharmacies) for a period of 3 – 6 weeks. Get the R0 value down to below 1.0 and wait until there are no new cases globally.

    Standardised testing, contact tracing, isolation and social distancing and mandatory reporting systems must all be thrown at it. Any nation that fails to comply remains 100% isolated from the world until it does.

    Sounds drastic, but in the long run will be by far the lowest cost approach. We have to demand this, because our govts have proven unable to.

    • AB 2.1

      Yes – and just create new money drop it into everyone's bank accounts so they can pay for housing, services, food, medicines etc. Emergency UBI in effect. Stay home, drink wine, read a book, talk sh*t on the Standard, and take a couple months away from your bullshit job. May have some other long-term benefits too.

    • SPC 2.2

      Why would nations without community spread apply a lockdown? I would agree a month long travel ban by those with no community spread at the same time would be OK.

      • RedLogix 2.2.1

        Almost all nations already have community spread, those that don't probably do but don't have any testing capacity.

        There may well be some small very isolated places like maybe Tonga that don't have any cases, but they got there by putting pretty strong travel constraints weeks ago.

        • SPC

          We have 5 machines for testing – any evidence we have community spread (and that is not partners or family of those who got it offshore)?

          I would agree that without a travel ban we will likely have community spread unless we apply the two week isolation better than we plan to.

          • Adam Ash

            Apparently (as I understand it) in NZ they refuse to test unless there is a clear connection to overseas. So we are NOT testing patients whose symptoms have popped up the general community. Thus we choose to be ignorant of the potential presence of Covid-19 within the general community.

            Thus it is false to say 'We do not have community spread.'.

            We can only say that 'We only test where a patient presents with symptoms or history that includes a direct link to oversees sources of infection, and we do not test unless such a link is there. Thus we have no knowledge of the presence or absence of Covid-19 in the general community.'

            Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

            That deliberate ignorance will cost us dearly in coming times.

            • Incognito

              That deliberate ignorance will cost us dearly in coming times.

              It is a judgment call based on an estimated risk analysis by MoH. These decisions are continuously reviewed.

            • SPC

              Nor is absence of testing proof of infection.

              And if you believe we already have community spread what is your problem with inbound visitors …

            • swordfish

              Adam Ash

              Yep, absolutely. We're just fooling ourselves. Reactive rather than Proactive.

              It's not like we lack the capacity to do more testing. Here's New Zealand, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield a few days ago:

              At the moment our labs can do over 500 tests in a day if they have to, and that capacity can be scaled up if needs be

              The lesson from China, SE Asia vs Italy / Iran / US is: do the maximum you're capable of as early as possible … aggressive & exhaustive testing & contact tracing … and isolation that is enforced & doesn't cut corners timewise.. Flatten the curve or your hospitals will be overwhelmed much sooner than you think.

              I'm guessing we actually have somewhere between 40-160 cases (I calculated based on data from both Dr John Campbell & the excellent Tomas Pueyo paper cited here & elsewhere over recent days).

              But slowly increasing all the time … then clusters … then BOOM ! … exponential explosion in numbers.

              Magical thinking to assume NZ's somehow exempt from the pattern in every other Country. At best, we can only hope that COVID-19 experiences the same Seasonality as the flu … which might briefly delay the speed of spread a little Down Under before we move into Winter … but you wouldn't want to go counting on it.

              • Adam Ash

                "…do the maximum you're capable of as early as possible …"

                Could not agree more. What do they have to loose?

                Test the sewage streams from every major city – that will tell you what is in the community faster than anything.

                Random test 100 citizens on the street in the 5 biggest cities daily, and plot the results. At the moment we have no data. 500 negatives every day would be very reassuring.

            • pat

              deliberate ignorance has nothing to do with it…..capacity is the driver.

              Until a few days ago all testing was carried out in Australia and I expect their labs are busy enough with their own citizens…testing on the basis of symptoms and or contact is the logical action, especially given the difficulty in detection pre symptom

    • Sacha 2.3

      shut down the entire global economy

      Yep. If only the real power over all our govts was not from those who will resist all attempts to curb their profits thus..

      • RedLogix 2.3.1

        Yes. There is no question that the form of capitalism we see in much of the world has gone too far, and wields an outsized political influence that one of the staple conversations here at TS.

        The problem with all ideologies is that having been successful in solving one class of problem, they tend to believe their ideas can therefore solve all problems. This always goes too far, and always ends badly. There is reason to hope this CV event will reset the excesses of capitalism, something long overdue.

    • Paddington 2.4

      If, as you claim, nation governments have failed, how do you know any pan-nation leadership would be an y more effective? Besides, not all governments have failed. "Singapore implemented strong surveillance and containment measures, which appear to have slowed the growth of the outbreak." https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6911e1.htm

      • RedLogix 2.4.1

        Like individuals some govts will be spectacularly successful and many will fail dismally.

        Just as you don't expect individuals to get into their car and make up whatever road rules are going to suit them that day, watching each nation state make up random responses to this crisis isn't really working.

        Let me put it this way, you can have each nation handle this event it's own way, and no global travel, but not both.

        • Paddington

          At this stage it's not possible to determine whether the current approach is working better than a globally coordinated one. I don't agree with everything our government has done or is doing, but I far prefer a regime where decisions are made by an accountable government who is serving the interests of it's own citizenry.

          • RedLogix

            Well the one nation that has claimed to have succeeded against CV is of course China. Good luck with 'accountability' in that sandpit.

            • Paddington

              China is not an example of an accountable government. Not the last time I checked.

  3. tc 3

    Great opportunity for a think about how we could we live as an Island. Inevitable with scarcity that it probably comes down to that.

  4. Grumpy 4

    On the other hand…….moving the German vaccine research to the US would greatly shorten development time due to the elimination of all the EU barriers to development.

  5. This isn't just about the virus or Trump..its all American politicians and American Health care..

    Take Biden for example..as President he wants to cure cancer..presumably because its something that affected him directly..yet he is fine with the current 'balance' in american access to health care.

    “I would veto anything that delays providing the security and the certainty of health care being available now,” Biden responded.

    ie.. About 44 million people in this country have no health insurance, and another 38 million have inadequate health insurance…not to mention the catastrophic closure of medical centres in rural and semi rural areas..whether or not you have insurance



    As someone who lives in an area with a supposedly Thriving economy…but no air conditioning in the Public hospital wards..I'm not so sure about our own ability to deal with an escalation of cases..

    Mar 2, 2020 – … Hawke's Bay DHB says it has spent nearly $12000 on iceblocks and fans for staff working in sweltering summer heat with no airconditioning.

  6. Adam Ash 6

    To inform the discussion, herewith some NZ government sites' info…

    NZ Customs Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

    INZ response to the Covid-19 (Novel Coronavirus) (Updated 15 March)

    To my mind, these 'responses' leave far too much to the discretion of the individual traveller, and do not actively protect the New Zealand public from potential infection from incoming travellers.

    • bill 6.1

      For what it's worth, here's my take.

      Those responses betray a mindset that would want to put out a forest fire while feeding the campfire that caused the blaze in the first place.

  7. bill 7

    Now could be a perfect time to learn how to act as a community, to look after each other, reduce need for material wealth and learn to tread more lightly on the planet.

    And to somewhat repeat what I've said before – since we might be approaching that point where we understand that a financial economy is not as important as a human economy – run an inventory on all economic activity and permanently shut down anything that doesn't have a positive impact on society (the human economy).

    Begin to lay in the groundwork for whatever production will be necessary in a world with broken supply chains (eg- generic medicines currently being manufactured in China and India…is that sustainable?)

    As of right now, give everyone an emergency payment so the poorer among us can stockpile necessary supplies for upcoming and perhaps extended periods of isolation.

    Shut down all air travel (both domestic and international) – planes run recycled air, which ain't flash when looking at airborne infections. Same thing goes for cruise ships (the internal cabins run on recycled air conditioning)

    Shut down all activity in buildings that run on recycled air – do it today.

    All that said, 'everyone' knows politicians and other decision makers connected to the world of business aren't the sharpest tacks in the box; that they tend towards blunt short term visions, and so will inflict tsunamis and avalanches of bureaucratic incompetence on all of our heads – so, y'know, cut a cash rate, bail out a business, and tell people to wash their hands 🙄

    • Poission 7.1

      As of right now, give everyone an emergency payment so the poorer among us can stockpile necessary supplies for upcoming and perhaps extended periods of isolation.

      The government can make enhanced support for beneficiary's by reducing the cost of electricity (being the majority shareholder in gen,meredian,mercury) by 20-25%)

      It could also provide immediate topup,for those pay as you go for an equivalent amount.

      • bill 7.1.1

        I can't speak for everyone, but those kind of reductions would generate the approximate princely sum of $20 a month for me – hardly sufficient in terms of stocking the cupboards for 2, 3 or 4 weeks of isolation.

    • Wayne 7.2


      As always your first response seems to to introduce a communist style government. You are too much in love with the idea of the local Soviets that were established immediately after the 1917 revolution.

      It would be much better to look at what the democracies (us, the UK, the US) did during WW2. And things are not that bad (yet).

      • bill 7.2.1

        Wayne. Go fuck yourself with this constant trolling of me as some Maoist or Bolshevik.

        If you sincerely believe that I'm all for introducing some kind of communist state, then you're sincerely stupid.

        AGW is driven by the carbon emissions that come from industry's energy sources. The only way to cut those emissions by the required degree is to cut superfluous economic activity.

      • AB 7.2.2

        "You are too much in love with the idea of the local Soviets that were established immediately after the 1917 revolution"

        Because the Soviets were elected locally, and then destroyed by an authoritarian vanguardist (Lenin), maybe they don't sound all bad? Though I’d guess you prefer top-down structures where the 'right' people get to make decisions for all of us.

        "It would be much better to look at what the democracies (us, the UK, the US) did during WW2."

        Like the 94% top marginal tax rate implemented in the USA in 1944? I imagine Bill might be on board for that. Are you trying to acquire lefty street cred Wayne?

      • KJT 7.2.3

        The Soviets, Democratic worker committees in every workplace, similar idea to the German Union reps on every board, in that arch ” communist State”, Germany?

        Unfortunately purged in short order, by anti Democratic authoritarian arseholes. The problem with violent revolutions.

        Democracy. I can see why Wayne doesn't like the idea.

        Way to many on the "left" don't like it, either.

    • Stunned Mullet 7.3

      "Begin to lay in the groundwork for whatever production will be necessary in a world with broken supply chains (eg- generic medicines currently being manufactured in China and India…is that sustainable?)"

      Where do you suggest we get the generic medicines we currently get from South East Asia if not from China/India ? In case you hadn't noticed we have no significant manufacture locally and PHARMAC don't usually like paying for more expensive generics out of Europe/USA.

      Shut down all activity in buildings that run on recycled air – do it today.

      What like pharmaceutical manufacturing plants ? Hospitals etc.

      • bill 7.3.1

        Where do you suggest we get the generic medicines we currently get from South East Asia if not from China/India ?

        As of right now, the US and elsewhere that source generic medicines from China and India is in a precarious situation because supply chains are breaking/broken.

        • Stunned Mullet

          Yes there are some concerns about a few particular molecules where the Indian authorities are limiting export and saving for their home market. However, I don't believe there are any widespread shortages in NZ at this point.

          I expect there may be similar supply concerns with medicines coming out of the Eu and North America, but back to the question …

          Where do you suggest we get the generic medicines we currently get from South East Asia if not from China/India ?

      • Kay 7.3.2

        Yes, well, we've been trying for a long time to explain the downsides of Pharmac's sole supply arrangements with generic companies…

  8. Adam Ash 8

    Important point here from UK, British Society for Immunology president Arne Akbar:

    ""For example, we don't yet know if this novel virus will induce long-term immunity in those affected as other related viruses do not. Therefore, it would be prudent to prevent infection in the first place."

    Herd Immunity

    This agrees with Chinese observations that patients can get recurring infections of Covid-19, and the effect of the second infection on a patient already weakened by the first round is increasingly severe.


  9. Muttonbird 11

    Regular flu says, "hi."

    The 2017-2018 flu season was severe for all US populations and resulted in an estimated 959,000 hospitalizations and 61,099 deaths.


    Again, can I ask what the media mass driven hysteria is about?

    Coronavirus is not the Spanish fucking Flu, no matter how much some people want it to be!!!

    • Sacha 11.1

      Pandemic-deniers are as bad as their climate equivalent. What do you really think you are contributing?

      • Muttonbird 11.1.1

        I’m trying to get my head around the staggeringly unprecedented and damaging reaction to this particular flu which has resulted in the deaths of very very few people.

        It seems that because China built a hospital in two days (umm, that’s what China does), and Italy’s notoriously terrible heath system fell over, everyone is kneecapping themselves into recession.

        I googled Pandemic-denier and came up with this page telling people how to deal them.

        Other advice these helpful people gave:

        You are more likely to DIE from the coronavirus if you believe in western medicine


        Is this the sort of thing you want to align with?

        • Sacha

          If you do not understand why all the public health experts in the world are taking this seriously enough to persuade governments to act, perhaps the problem is staring you in the mirror. Time to breathe rather than yell.

          • Muttonbird

            I don't think it's public health experts which are persuading governments to act in such over-arching ways, it's the media in whose interests it is to have eyeballs on screens. In Coronavirus they have found themselves a golden egg.

            What are those public health experts not advocating non-movement orders every single fucking winter in that case?

            This level of lockdown hasn't been tested before. I think it is a shitty, panicky plan loosely brought about by hundreds of disparate and pressured players.

        • mauī

          Maybe you'll get it when multiple G8 countries start keeling over.

          • Muttonbird

            Not 100% sure what you are referring to but they will keel over only because they over-reacted and have fucked themselves economically by doing so.

            How's our curve going? Flat enough?

            • McFlock

              The 2017 flu was not regular flu, as your own link states.

              It was combatted with a vaccine that was only 10% effective, as your link states.

              The mortality rate was higher because of systemic shortages of basic medical equipment, as your link states.

              And that was 0.3% prevalence in the US. If the yanks stop at a million cases, I guess their day of prayer worked.

              As for the media driving NZ's response rather than the expert advisory group or the national pandemic plan, whatevs. And implying that we don't need the protective measures we're implementing because we don't have many cases is headdesk material doctors are pretty used to, now. Antivaxxers use it a lot.

  10. Sacha 12

    • Muttonbird 12.1

      Paul Graham is an English-born American computer scientist, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, author, and essayist. He is best known for his work on Lisp, his former startup Viaweb, co-founding the influential startup accelerator and seed capital firm Y Combinator, his blog, and Hacker News.

      Is he a bit like Nick Mowbray and Sam Morgan?

      Know-nothing right wing entrepreneurs who have weighed in heavy on the government to close borders and schools.

      The same guys quoted by Farrar and Simon Bridges…

      Maybe closing borders and schools means nothing to you rich types. I don’t know.

  11. Sacha 13

  12. Muttonbird 14

    NZ: 8 cases (all foreigners), 0 hospitalisations, 0 deaths, 20,000 people out of work and counting.

    • Adam Ash 14.1

      Remember, Muttonbird, NZ is not testing asymptomatic cases.

      So we are in the situation where there is no knowledge of what is happening in the general community. We are not asking, so we simply do not know.

      Absence of evidence is NOT evidence of absence.

      People without symptoms have been found to have higher virus loads than those with symptoms, meaning these unidentifiable carriers are more likely to spread the virus than those showing symptoms.

      Health officials indicate that NZ has capacity to do 500 tests a day, yet they are doing very few. How many tests are they doing? Why not use the full testing capacity to explore the general population? To sample arriving travellers? What (apart from the truth) are they afraid of?

  13. joe90 16

    The right, typically, think that the best response, after making an absolute pig’s ear of the situation, is to try and buy a vaccine. Not for everyone’s benefit, only for your own people, presumably excluding illegals.

    Yes this actually happened.

    A flat denial from the company.

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  • Crown accounts show confidence in Govt economic plan
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  • Statement on The Speaker and Annual Review Debate
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  • Celebrating New Zealand’s firefighters this International Firefighters’ day
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