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How this may play out

Written By: - Date published: 11:01 am, March 29th, 2020 - 212 comments
Categories: australian politics, Donald Trump, health, International, jacinda ardern, politicans, scoundrels, uk politics, uncategorized, us politics - Tags: , , ,

Social media has become interesting lately.  Twitter has become civilised.  Apart from Democracy Mum and Hamish Price most right wing commentators have become much more respectful.  The left have toned it down as well.

And an unusual consensus has been reached.

The Government’s publicity on the issue has been clear.  The four levels let us know who things were going to go if things changed, then they were implemented as quickly as possible when things did change.  Going to stage four was a no brainer.  And the very generous support packages that have been announced will mean that the worst of the economic carnage will be avoided.

The restrictions are tough. I thought my law firm would be an essential industry because of our role in the justice system as well as the financial system.  But it was very gently explained to me that to make this work we need as few contacts as possible.  This means everything shuts except those that are clearly the most essential.  This tweet explains why.

The rules are there and they are crystal clear.  Stay home in your bubble.  Do not associate with people outside your bubble.  Go for a walk locally if you like but stay well clear of everyone else. And don’t touch anything others may have touched.

So far it feels like New Zealand is pretty well placed to weather this storm.  

But all focus will be on the infection figures.  As Incognito said in his excellent post it has become a daily ritual to watch the figures being released.  In fact I used to wait for opinion poll results with the same level of apprehension.

When infection figures surged to 14 in a day a week ago I thought that we were at the beginning of a dramatic slide.  The next day it was 36. And they have continued to increase. Until yesterday.

They were 85 two days ago and 83 yesterday.  These are dramatic figures but I took heart that they had flatlined, at least temporarily.

No doubt the figures were affected by the influx of Kiwis returning from overseas.  Scenes like this can explain why returning kiwis figure so prominently in the infection rates.

There is still the concern that not all infections are being picked up.  But as explained by the legendary Siouxsie Wiles the test will be what the figures are in a fortnight.

There have been expressions of optimism that the Government’s actions may have dramatic beneficial effects.  From Charles Anderson in the Guardian:

Jacinda Ardern has implored New Zealanders to “stay local” during a four-week countrywide lockdown as modelling showed that strict measures adopted by the country could limit deaths to 0.0004% of the population – or about 20 people.

Research released by Te Pūnaha Matatini suggested that, left unchecked, the virus could eventually infect 89% of New Zealand’s population and kill up to 80,000 people in a worst-case scenario.

According to the research, intensive care beds would reach capacity within two months and the number of patients needing intensive care would exceed 10 times capacity by the time the virus peaked.

However, with the strictest suppression measures, which the country has adopted, the fatalities would drop to just 0.0004%. Hospital capacity would not be exceeded for over a year. These measures included physical distancing, case isolation, household quarantine, and closing schools and universities and would require the restrictions to remain in place until a vaccine or other treatment was developed.

However, researchers noted such strategies can “delay but not prevent the epidemic”.

“When controls are lifted after 400 days, an outbreak occurs with a similar peak size as for an uncontrolled epidemic,” the researchers wrote.

The takeaway messages?  This is just the start of something that will take a long time to resolve, New Zealand is in as good a place as anywhere in the world to deal with this, but things are not going back to normal in four weeks time.  Further isolation periods are almost inevitable, the economy is going to take a hell of a battering and foreign travel is going to be a distant fond memory for quite a while.

The clarity of the Government’s messaging can be contrasted with that of other countries.  Like Australia where Treasurer Mathias Cormann says that the Government is “never going to close down businesses based on political decisions” but then decides to leave hair salons open despite their request to be closed.  No wonder Sydneysiders and Melbourites are flocking to the beach.

And locals in Australia have clearly had enough and are looking elsewhere for political leadership, perfectly summed up by this tweet:

Or the United Kingdom where the Government has changed tack from promoting herd immunity, which would have resulted in 510,000 deaths by this August to, well I am not sure, and the Prime Minister insists on shaking hands and then contracts the virus himself.

Or America which is now number one in a way they did not want, the United States now has the most reported cases of the virus.

And Trump’s public utterances on the subject have been all over the place.

We also have a new hero in US politics, Dr Anthony Fauci who has done his best to publicly disagree with Trump about his most idiotic suggestions, including the proposal that the US should lift its quarantine so that people can rub shoulders in mass on Easter Sunday, to the promotion of drugs that have no efficacy in treating the virus. Fauci is now the leader of the what is left of the US intelligentsia in positions of authority.  I wonder how long he will last.

And Trump is now blaming various Democrat governors for his botching of the pandemic.

Stand by as he shifts as much blame as he can on the states, particularly those with Democrat Governors. If it has not been abundantly clear for the past three years, Trump is totally unsuited to leading the United States.   It really is facing failed state status.

Enough for now.  Please stick to the curfew. Exercise is permitted but don’t drive and stay away from others and don’t touch anything.  And check on each other and your loved ones.  Social media is great for this.



The good news is that there were fewer infections reported overnight, 63.

The bad news is that the country has suffered its first Covid-19 related death.

212 comments on “How this may play out ”

  1. Rosemary McDonald 1

    How would it have played out had our government closed our borders to all non residents and imposed strict quarantine to all other arrivals back in the first week of February?

    How would it have played out if our government had immediately and without delay put the safety of all of us above the welfare of the economy?

    Extended family in Wuhan have been totally perplexed as to why on earth our borders were not closed way before now.

    Because of loved family and friends many of them have here in New Zealand.

    I have always enjoyed immunity from the disease that is the cult of personality that has blighted our lives and more damagingly world politics for the past couple of decades so Ardern's daily engagements with 'her' people leave me at best lukewarm.

    She is a brilliant communicator, I'll give her that.

    But perhaps we should remember that there was a possibly fatal delay before the required actions were taken to protect all of us.

    Because business came first.


    • Blazer 1.1

      how would you ever know…what if!….hopeless.

      • I Feel Love 1.1.1

        Agree Blazer, pointless what ifs,

      • woodart 1.1.2

        but it would have given the whatifs a chance to bore the rest of us with more pointless whatifs, and whinge about lost moneymaking opportunities.

    • Andre 1.2

      Do you think the response would have been better if Billy or Soimun had been been leading a Nat government over the past months? Or that they would be better at leading the recovery from this crisis?

      • Rosemary McDonald 1.2.1

        You see Andre, there seems to be only two choices here on TS.

        One either worships at the altar of Jacinda or is prostrate before Soimon.

        Be warned.

        Some of us will, should we survive, remember there were alternate decision that could have, and should have been made had we truly had a government that put the people first.

        And told us the truth.

        Have you completely lost the ability to move beyond the tribal 'if you're not 100% with us you're against us' abuse or are you just full of it?

        Or on someone's payroll?

        • Andre

          How do you propose to get to a government that truly puts the people first (in your view)?

          Because as it sits right now in NZ's electoral space, the dominance of there being a left bloc led by Labour and a right bloc of National and its sock-puppets is stronger than it's ever been in the MMP era.

          It's not a matter of worshiping Jacinda or Soimun. It's a matter of being realistic about when and how it's possible to shift things, and when it's time to accept the compromises that have had to be made and get behind better of the choices actually available.

          • theotherpat

            they tried to protect tourism industry first big fuck up….rather Jacinda than Soiman…..and the ones profiting the most?…. the chinese….$466 million medical supplies sold to Spain now the can build flatpack hospitals for us….i am really suspicious of its true origins and i mean China the govt not the people as a whole

            • Wayne

              To be fair it is a progressively evolving situation. Back in February it didn't seem so bad, 8 weeks later a very different story.

              I reckon the government and the PM have done pretty well, way better than just about any other government.

              One concerning point. Lets assume Level 4 works and we go back to "normal" in 4 to 6 weeks. In truth we remain vulnerable. We have to keep people out of NZ until the storm blows over. And until a vaccine is developed.

              So basically no-one visits NZ for another 12 months.

              • Andre

                Yup. Fortress NZ until the population has been vaccinated. Or drugs that knock the illnesses back down to a manageable problem become available.

              • In Vino

                Wayne, I am feeling very wary.. I think this is the first time I have agreed with you 100%. (Perhaps I am weakening with age.)

                • Anne

                  Perhaps I am weakening with age.)

                  Nope. When you take the politics out of a topic then commonsense prevails on all sides. Rest easy. 😉

      • SHG 1.2.2

        I'm glad Jacinda is the face of NZ's response, but I sure wish the response had been more and earlier.

    • Carolyn_Nth 1.3

      One of the problems of an earlier lock down and closing of borders, is the preparation required. They firstly needed to ensure that necessary goods could continue to be imported, with a bit of a stock take on what is needed.

      There was also the need to ensure those Kiwis wanting to return to NZ could do so.

      And the need to communicate to Kiwis what measures were necessary and why.

      A lock down requires preparation as to what essential services need to remain open – people could apply to have their business included as an essential service up til midnight Friday.

      NZ does not have an authoritarian government, so all sorts of people and laws need to be included and revised.


      I'm not a great Ardern fan, and don't think everything they've done is perfect, but prefer what is happening here to what I see int he US,UK and Aussie.

      • Rosemary McDonald 1.3.1

        Carolyn. Truly. I believe we would have been equal to the task, collectively, of a much earlier border closing.

        Providing we made profiteering illegal and we placed less reliance on the words and advice from those known numpties at the MOH.

        The facemask thing is a case in point.

        Let the nurse wear the masks if they want to.

        My biggest fear here is that Afterwards there will be the official historical record and a suppressed truth.

        • Blazer

          If that's your biggest fear…you are in for a…shock!

          • Rosemary McDonald

            Blazer. I can only assume you have long lived in a bubble if you have not encountered in the past couple of years new 'truths' that do not agree with either the memories of those who lived in those times or the written records of those times.

            Case in point is today's 'truth' that measles will kill one in a thousand of those diagnosed.

            Whereas research from the 1963 UK measles epidemic has one in ten thousand dying of the disease. (BMJ published this research in 1964, lookitup)

            This is quite shocking manipulation of the facts. Those of us who were actually there will be dead and gone soon enough and the new 'truth' that measles is deadly will persist…because the actual truth will be considered fake news.

            And yes, the death of trust is something to be truly feared.

            • Andre

              If you're starting off on another of your pro-disease kicks, what was the death rate for the recent measles outbreak in Samoa? 83 deaths in 5700 cases?

              • Rosemary McDonald

                Ffs. Can you not move on from the all or nothing viewpoint Andre?

                You really should have spent more time outside of your bubble before Lockdown.

                You should be able to do better than mere name calling. It is so adolescent.

                The question you should be asking is why there were so many deaths in Samoa from that outbreak.

                Compared to the, say, readily available stats from the UK on the number of deaths from diagnosed cases of measles in the past few decades.

        • Foreign waka

          Hi Rosemary

          I hope your family is well and you have all you need to also be safe now as the winter shows up in some parts of the country.

          This is not a time for politics and I am with Carolyn on this one. It is important that in such case the timing is chosen just right and I really believe that this government has done a fantastic job.

          Couple of things that need close monitoring: Companies exploiting the scheme of government funding and Police not implementing a version of Chile's dictatorial regime.

          Most NZlanders are decent people, lets work with that. Don't get vindictive or too nit picky. I think people are stressed enough.

          Kia kaha

          • Rosemary McDonald

            This has caught my partner and I at an extraordinarily difficult time. Normally our timing is quite good…but with this…arggh. Went rapidly from bad to worse. However we are as usual making the best of it as resilience has had to be our middle name from two decades ago. Far from ideal lockdown living situation and our attempts to remedy our homelessness just might run up against what mickysavage is facing…the total shut down of Legal Stuff. Even if we manage to settle on what is so far the most suitable wheelchair friendly home we've seen in a year it maybe weeks and weeks and weeks before we could move in. So. Looking on the bright side…

            As I said to Carolyn_Nth up thread, I truly believe most Kiwi's would have handled a much earlier border closure and much earlier social distancing. There would not have been rioting in the streets.

            And despite martial law being declared…or very close to it…we still retain the right to question and even criticize our government, don't we?

            • Janet

              "I truly believe most Kiwi's would have handled a much earlier border closure and much earlier social distancing. There would not have been rioting in the streets."

              Agree with you . Most Kiwis were open to that back in early Feb …. just the "business at all costs NZ " part were not .

              • In Vino

                Yes Janet – and they tend to call the shots.

                A few comments back – I don't think Rosemary plays politics for any party. I think she is genuinely angry when she rebukes – regardless of party.

        • woodart

          well, first thing you should do ,is avoid all social media. go away and write YOUR truth, then put it in a sealed time capsule.

      • bill 1.3.2

        In all honesty, I can't see what supply chains had to do with stopping those fcking cruise ships. From memory, the government's initial announcement was to stop them from…tomorrow, (the end of March), the tail end of the tourist season.

        Given that things have been a bit of a clatter, I can't recall when I first suggested lockdown should have begun when cities in Wuhan were locked down – (I reiterated the point on the 9th of March) and I didn't mean just stopping people who were inbound from Mainland China.

        Hopefully, things have been done in time – but what's hope when there could have been intelligent precautionary action taken that was intended to safeguard us instead of delayed action that came from bowing to a supposed 'need' to safeguard business?

        • Carolyn_Nth

          I thought cruise ships should have been stopped in January or February. They were a potential major source of transmission of the virus – people from other countries getting on and of the ships in a number of ports, potentially shedding the virus at each place.

          • Bill

            To be honest, I thought cruise ships should have been stopped before they began. But maybe that's just me 🙂

            • Carolyn_Nth

              Well. Yeah.

              The plan has been for Auckland Port to move elsewhere, and for extensions to one of Auckland's wharfs, so that bigger cruise ships could dock here. I put in a submission saying we should have fewer cruise ships and certainly not bigger ones – environmentally damaging, a blight on the harbour, not good for local residents… etc.

              I wonder what will be the future now of cruise ships to Auckland… and the potential extension of the wharf?

        • McFlock

          Wuhan was locked down in late January, when the political flavour here was the usual wank about polls and suchlike.

          As observer pointed out yesterday, such a move would have been unacceptable at that time. It might even have brought down the government, between NZ1 and a few of the sporty Labour types crossing the floor in early Feb.

          • bill

            lol So locking down "because Italy" works, but not "because 15 or 17 cities in China"?!

            Some people might wonder what lies beneath that kind of reasoning, especially seeing as how Wuhan is "just there" while Italy is "way yonder".

            edit and the WHO declared a global public health emergency on Jan 30.

            • McFlock

              Was that meant to be a reply to my comment? Because none of that is relevant to what I wrote.

              You reckoned NZ should have closed its borders when China shut down Wuhan. That took place on 23rd January.

              My comment did not debate the efficacy of stopping international travel to limit the spread of disease. My comment did not even debate whether it would have been a reasonable course of action at the time, given the structure of the NZ economy at the time.

              I simply stated that shutting down the tourism industry and all business travel for the foreseeable future in late January would have led to a political feeding frenzy, because most people in the country had not viewed covid19 as such a serious threat at that time.

              Now it is more reasonable and palatable to most people, because we've seen its global spread and its global harm. This was not the case on 23rd January.

    • observer 1.4

      Are we still doing this? For goodness' sake.

      OK, I'll tell you. The government would have fallen. You cannot simply take public opinion today and insert it into the past. If you really doubt this, take a look at what was in the news "in the first week of February". Look at what the opposition questions were in Parliament. Look at what was happening around the world.

      Here's a simple example. Ardern stands up in the first week of February and announces that all sport is now off. Yes, all of it. (Competitions = travel = airports = virus). Nobody – and I mean nobody – would have accepted that. You only need to see the reaction from all the sports administrators in March, never mind February. Everything was manageable, let's not over-react, we can do workarounds etc.

      Ardern would have lost the support of NZF and most Labour voters. Headlines … "Government chaos. Ardern power mad. Cabinet rebels." Either a snap election or Bridges forms new government.

      A dictator could have done things differently – and "different" could have been much worse.

      • Rosemary McDonald 1.4.1

        Shucks. How disappointing.

        So called political commentators unable to depoliticise a crisis.


        • observer

          What part of my comment about the first week of February do you take issue with?

      • Drowsy M. Kram 1.4.2

        Thanks Obs, fair comment for "shoulda, coulda, woulda" merchants to chew on.

      • ianmac 1.4.3

        Well said Observer. "Ardern would have lost the support of NZF and most Labour voters. Headlines … "Government chaos. Ardern power mad. Cabinet rebels." Either a snap election or Bridges forms new government."

        Not just the lost support so much as chaos and indecision. Close? Open? Imprison? Riots?

        Those grizzlers moaning "they should've…" are so inane. And so tedious.

        Hope Rosemary gets support for her anxieties.

        [If you want to be locked out of this site for ‘the duration’, you’re going the right way about it] – B

        • swordfish

          Hope Rosemary gets support for her anxieties.

          That comment is beneath you, Ian. Gaslighting bordering on Character assassination. You're better than that.

          This goes way beyond petty partisan politics … The Govt was far too casual through February (mirrored by a few of the usual Intersectional suspects here … the latter typically displaying enormous arrogance surpassed only by profound ignorance).

          • weka

            Maybe we would all take a breath and refocus on the politics, and put the personal aside for a bit.

          • McFlock

            How, specifically, were they too "casual" in February? Feel free to link to measures you were urging NZ to adopt at the time, but sadly the government did not adopt at that time.

          • Anne

            Actually I think you might be wrong swordfish. I think ianmac was genuine. And I say that on the basis of his consistent past history over many years commenting here.

            • Incognito


            • swordfish

              And I say that on the basis of his consistent past history over many years commenting here.

              That's why I took exception, Anne.

              Ian has always been one of the most likeable & level-headed commentators here … hence his gaslighting of Rosemary was a bit of a surprise. Totally uncharacteristic.

              We need to move beyond petty partisan politics on this … we're talking about vulnerable elderly people potentially dying of untreated pneumonia in hospital corridors or left to die at home. Moving decisively at an early stage is crucial … a few weeks could save thousands of lives.

              Plenty of experts were warning of an inevitable & very fast-moving Pandemic from late January onwards. (I mean, I was preparing my wider family from the end of the first week of Feb & predicted the rapid speed of infection here, the first death within a few weeks & the likelihood of panic-buying in Supermarkets … not because I’m the brightest spark in the toolshed but because the experts clearly knew what they were talking about & provided convincing evidence).

              Govts finally getting their act together in mid-March (after adopting a remarkably casual attitude through February) is not in any way early.

              • McFlock

                The govt was acting well before mid-march. ISTR they were actively monitoring and preparing for it from late January. They did really well limiting the transmission to travellers and their households for as long as they did, and when it became evident that the disease had progressed into the community they quickly locked down the nation.

                Yes, you and a couple of other people were talking about pandemics in general during jan and feb, but March is when the problem became evident as a NZ problem to commenters here. Your prediction about the first death within 3-4 weeks was on 4 march, and while you hit the bracket others were way off in their predictions of doom.

                This is an icredibly quickly-evolving situation, and I suspect the intensity affects our perception of how long it's been. Thanks to air travel, it only took six weeks for the world to drop its shit. AFAIK, the government has calmly worked through the well-constructed pandemic plan, and we're going to get through this much better than the US or much of Europe.

                Actual specialists might quibble with specific decisions, in the way specialist historians might debate the reasonable decisions of leaders in war or peace. But NZ could have done a shedload worse in the leadership lottery at this time.

          • mpledger

            Covid-19 coming into NZ was through NZ citizens and residents returning from overseas. NZ citizens and residents have a legal right to return to NZ – that is why, even now, citizens and residents are allowed to return even though the boarders are otherwise closed to inward non-residents.

            My point being that closing the boarder earlier would not have changed anything except, maybe, stranding NZers overseas through lack of airline transport.

      • pat 1.4.4

        sound observations

    • xanthe 1.5


      The sucess of the measures is completely dependant on how well WE follow them , It can be argued (and I do) that had general lockdown and border close been declared before WE really understood and accepted the need then they would not succeed and require a much heaver authoritarian hand which would long term be counterproductive.

      Quite simply a lockdown declared before the systems were in place and without buy-in from all of us would fail. To get us to this point now was a work of great subtlety and political skill. You could not have done this.

      • Andre 1.5.1

        The news out of Italy in particular, a wealthy western country with good medical systems, played a big part in raising awareness that it really could go bad here without extreme countermeasures.

        • weka

          This. I doubt that in Feb any NZ govt could have taken us to level 4 and had the whole country comply. Italy changed everything.

          • Rosemary McDonald

            Wuhan should have changed everything.

            At least it did for our whanau.

            • Incognito

              The key issue is not action-inaction but trust-distrust. If anything comes from this pandemic, it is to validate the trustworthiness of sources for key information that guides, and in many cases determines, key decisions. For example, would you trust anything coming from POTUS or CCP? And under what circumstances if not by default?

              • Rosemary McDonald

                Not sure if you were replying to me incognito…my phone doesn't allow access to the sidebar and my tablet will not let me comment nor see replies.

                However…in short. I automatically distrust all and everything in the media and governments until I have done my own research. The internet used to be an amazing archive with all manner of information and historical news records( from before we had 'media' rather than reporters and journalists.)

                Increasingly and alarmingly much of this archive is being edited, for want of a better word…and stuff that was accepted as fact, because we lived it personally, is being rewritten.

                I wouldn't trust any politician as far as I could throw 'em.

                Obfuscation seems to be a major part of their job description.

                • Incognito

                  Yes, I was replying to you.

                  What information, in your opinion, should the Government use? From the same sources as yours? Would they have come to the same conclusion and would they have done the same as you would have? Would that have been sufficient to explain and justify to the nation to go into complete lockdown?

            • weka

              there's a big difference between a family taking responsibility for their situation, and a government shutting down a whole country.

              I'm also mindful that all the people involved in those decisions (MoH, Caucus, staffers etc) are human and have had to go through the same processes as everyone else. Shock, uncertainty, grief, fear, anger, and this may have impacted on decisions.

              I don't know if the govt acted early enough or was too late. I can't see how a hard, fast shut down in Feb would have been possible. Giving people more of a headsup earlier might have enabled the level system and getting to L4 to happen earlier, but I suspect there would have been other consequences to that too.

            • Quite right – if the information coming out of Wuhan had been truthful. The CCP lied for political (internal) purposes.

              As many as 48000 people may have died in Wuhan and as many as 800,000 infected.

              Do you think that any government wouldn't have taken notice of such figures?

              The alert/panic button could/would have been hit much earlier and perhaps even Italy might have been saved. He he, lots of modals!

      • Bill 1.5.2

        The sucess of the measures is completely dependant on…

        Asians can't fly fighter jets!*

        I'm picking something not dissimilar was at play with covid – "we" (the white masters of the Universe) are exceptional in every way. (Including levels of hubris of course).

        Take your mind back to early reporting on covid that basically used the outbreak in China as a big stick to whack on Sinophobic propaganda from every which angle.

        And fast forward to comments excusing inaction under the guise of implying 'we' are somehow a "better developed, more free and discerning expression of humanity…" 🙄

        * Korean war. It was not believed that Koreans were flying MiG fighter jets – had to be the Russians.

        • xanthe


          WTF ?

          • bill

            The straight forward version. The reaction to covid 19 from a lot of governments and their respective populations has been informed by a deep seated racism.

    • RedLogix 1.6

      Extended family in Wuhan have been totally perplexed as to why on earth our borders were not closed way before now. Because of loved family and friends many of them have here in New Zealand.

      It's a point I've made a few times. Russia closed it's border on Jan 28th. Singapore on Feb 1st. China itself had completely shut down all internal movement by at least Jan 20.

      Yet for another whole month CCP mouthpieces insisted to all Western nations that doing the same would be discriminatory and racist. And WHO's Dr Tedros inexplicably backed them in this.

      On Jan 15th senior CCP officials were in the White House signing the Phase 1 trade deal, and didn't say boo about the epidemic they all must have known about.

      Let's be clear, it's a big step for any govt to close borders and shut down economies; but for a whole critical six weeks we were encouraged not to by a CCP determined to underplay and minimise what was going on.

      As I've mentioned a number of times, we are close to Chinese sources here who have been telling these things to us all along. Everything we have been told has been confirmed within 2 -3 weeks later. There are hundreds of millions of ordinary Chinese who loath the slavery the CCP has them shackled into and they despair when they see the West being deceitfully played like this.

      • observer 1.6.1

        To be clear: Russia closed its border with China (as per your link). Not its borders. It still hasn't.

      • Carolyn_Nth 1.6.2

        Interestingly, Sth Korea still hasn't closed it's borders. It has managed to contain the spread with widespread testing and tracking plus self isolation/quarantine periods, especially for overseas arrivals.

        • alwyn

          There is an interesting review of what South Korea did here.


          South Korea appears, from very early on, to have followed the advice to test, test, test and then to follow up all contacts. It is very close to what Singapore did, with what appear to have been equally successful results. We, on the other hand, seem to have done almost nothing until mid-March. Thus we lost a critical six weeks.

          • Carolyn_Nth

            Yes. I have wondered why there hasn't been more community testing.

            • Psycho Milt

              It's simple enough. South Korea is a high-tech industrialised country with a large population, a lot of lab technicians and a lot of deference to authority. NZ is a low-tech agricultural country with a small population, few lab technicians and a "fuck you" attitude to authority.

              So, when South Korea got its first case the government summoned various heads of industry and told them it wanted a test for COVID-19 and the means to apply it en masse ASAP, so get to it. The assembled Galtian supermen dashed off to comply.

              When NZ got its first case, the government could have tried something like that but none of the big wheels in NZ industry are involved in the kind of work needed, and would in any case have told the government to come back when it had a shitload of cash and a compelling business case.

              All this bullshit about how NZ should have done what South Korea did is like telling Māori their ancestors should have fought the British using machine guns and ground attack aircraft. Yeah, they totally should have done that, their leaders must have been incompetent or something.

              • woodart

                great post milt.

                • weka

                  Yep, spot on PM.

                  Also, South Korea (and other Asian countries) got to practice with previous epidemics and from memory did a pandemic test run late last year.

              • alwyn

                Gosh. Is that you Ayn? I thought you had died in 1982.

                Your comment is way over the top, and erroneous. We had out first positive test in New Zealand on 28 February. Obviously we had the ability to do tests by that date. However by 15 March we had only carried out a total of 442. That is less than 30/day isn't it? People have said that they were told that a test would not be carried out because they didn't meet the criteria. If you hadn't been overseas that was it. Even the first recorded positive wasn't done at the airport although they had been ill on the plane. Their family had to bring them back to the authorities as far as I remember.


                On the 3rd March there was a report that they wouldn't allow tests even though the front-line staff said they had the symptoms.


                Now we claim to be doing more than 1000/day. Not surprisingly we are finding more people suffering from the disease. Why did it take us so long to do realistic testing. Please don't tell me that it was because the Government didn't want to find any cases prior to a planned function on 15 March?

                If we had put all arrivals into the country into proper quarantine conditions. and followed up on all contacts perhaps we would have been in the rather happier state that South Korea and Singapore seem to be.

                We didn't have to develop a test from scratch. And we didn't have to wait until after mid-March before we started to take the matter seriously. We could, and should, have started much earlier.

                • McFlock

                  Didn't take long to get back to muckraking as usual, I see.

                  That bit about purposefully undertesting to lower the count is particularly low. The speculation based on your no-doubt extensive experience in providing the logistics for new testing protocols (not to mention deciding the criteria for distribution of insufficient health resources to best measure and control an outbreak) is just the usual fare. But that March 15 thing takes the cake.

                • Gosh, yes, good point. No doubt the lower level of testing done in NZ has little to do with the logistics of switching to mass testing in a poorly-industrialised country with few labs and technicians, and much more to do with a secret government plot to pretend the virus didn't exist because it would just ruin the PTPMCindyPrincessStardustMyLittlePony's chance of hogging the media spotlight on 15 March. That makes a lot of sense – if you're a completely deranged wingnut who'd be better advised to stick to Kiwiblog than blogs where adults are having a conversation.

                  If you really can't figure out why mass testing wasn't implemented immediately, Siouxsie Wiles has described in terms for simpletons here: https://thespinoff.co.nz/science/18-03-2020/siouxsie-wiles-how-testing-for-covid-19-works/. You should be able to follow it.

                  • gsays

                    Well said PM.

                    I hope you were more than 2m away. These spray and walk away types can have quite a trajectory on their filth.

                  • alwyn

                    Well I have read it, again. It says the same thing as it did the first time.

                    However it, and you, still can't explain how, if it was only possible to do a couple of dozen tests/ day prior to about 20/03 it became possible to do 1000/day a couple of days later. Did our labs suddenly become so much more effective?

                    It also doesn't explain why we didn't start ramping up out supplies of the required chemicals and so on about six weeks ago. Did we really think that the virus wasn't going to turn up in New Zealand within a couple of months of its appearance elsewhere?

                    By the way, since you claim some knowledge of the topic can you tell us how many ventilators are available in New Zealand Hospitals? An article in a recent Economist indicated we had, per head of population, only about half the number that Australia had and only about one sixth of the number in countries like the US, Germany or Austria. We had about 2/3 of the numbers in Spain, Italy and China. At the start of the year ago it indicated the waiting time was only about 2 weeks. Now it is about 12 and it was getting rapidly worse. Did we order any in, say February, and when will they be delivered? Or did we just sit on our hands and neither order any nor train people to operate them?

                    The Economist was the episode of March 21, page 59. I think you will need a subscription to read it.

                    • Incognito

                      Altogether in public hospitals, there were 563 potential ventilator beds – and 520 ventilators, which included 237 anaesthetic ventilators.


                      No subscription required and no paywall.

                    • alwyn


                      Thank you. That tends to imply that we haven't got any new ones recently. I wonder if any are on order. Some of the stories from Italy seemed to be saying that were far to few for the demand, and they are better off than we are. This is from The Sun of course which has a tendency to exaggerate a bit.


                      Given the demand for the things it would seem that if we haven't any already on order we aren't going to get any this year.


                    • Incognito []

                      You can draw your own conclusions. You and others are real experts in this, it seems.

                      In March 2020, following growing concerns over the coronavirus crisis, Philips said it would increase production of several critical health products — including making 2,000 ventilators per week rather than the 1,000 it usually produces.


                    • alwyn

                      What a fascinating report. The numbers for Phillip[s you quoted are the only thing in the whole report that actually says how many they make. There isn't a single number for any of the other firms as to what they actually produce each year.

                      I am also a bit suspicious about the whole thing when I see that F&P are included in the list. The other day they said.

                      'Fisher & Paykel is New Zealand’s best-known medical equipment manufacturer, and sells respiratory products – but not ventilators.

                      “We do not manufacture ventilators and don’t have expertise in this specific product area,” spokesperson Karen Knott told Newsroom yesterday. “Right now the company is currently focused on responding to increased demand for respiratory humidification products and we think that is the best thing we can be doing in these challenging times.”'


                      That is they "don't make them on the 19th March" to being "in the top seven on the 24th". Amazing. No wonder their share price has gone up so fast over the last 12 months.

                    • Incognito []

                      I had not realised that you have a suspicious nature, sorry. Can you use Google or do you need others to do everything for you?

                    • alwyn

                      I do apologise. I was merely trying to help you. I thought you might like to know that a report you appear to be relying on for your information may not be terribly accurate.

                      Clearly that is not the case. You don't concern yourself with such trivial things. C'est la vie.

                    • weka

                      This from the man who claimed that there was a report that front line staff with symptoms weren't allowed tests and then linked to a Taxpayer Union press release making the same claim with no reference.

                      The only reason you're not back in moderation is because I was busy this afternoon. You do seem to be improving in your explanations and linking, so my suggestion is to resist the temptation to use the bullshit references if you want to keep your commenting privileges here.

            • mpledger

              Because, initially, all the cases were related to overseas travel, it was not being spread through the community. There are not an infinite amount of tests available, they have to be used wisely. And there are only so many that can be processed per day.

              I don't know about the specific test but I would guess that a false positive is something like 1 in 100 or 1 in 1000. With no community transmission, a true positive in community testing would have probability zero.

              Now there are only two cases of community transmission (I believe) so testing the community randomly is still looking for a needle in several hundred thousand haystacks.

              • Carolyn_Nth

                I think GPs selecting those most likely to be exhibiting symptoms is going to provide a pretty good indication of the extent of community transmIssion. Previously they were only testing people who had connections to overseas travel.

                Today it has been reported by RNZ:

                As we head into day five of the nationwide lockdown, the Director-General of Health has no doubt the cases of community transmission of Covid-19 are on the rise.

                It's not yet known how New Zealand's first Covid-19-related fatality caught the virus.

                Ashley Bloomfield was asked how many of the 514 cases to date have been community transmission.

                "I don't have the exact figure and of the new cases in the last day or two, many of those are still being followed up and investigated.

                "The number associated with community transmission will be increasing, I have no doubt about that, and particularly because we are seeing those small number of clusters around the place," Dr Bloomfield said.

                • Andre

                  Bloomfield says they are still seeing a strong link to overseas travel.

                  Of the 455 cases where they have good info, 57 per cent over overseas travel, 27 per cent close link to a known case.

                  Just two per cent or about ten cases are thought to be cases of community transmission.


                  • Carolyn_Nth

                    Yes. And that's the current tip of the iceberg.

                    Bloomberg also talked about some clusters are being investigated: the one at a St Patrick's Day celebration I Matamata. This virus travels quickly and each of the people in those clusters will likely have some close contacts.

                    I have read overseas reports of fast transmission: several people got sick from a party where people just did usual greeting hugs, etc; several people in one workplace, then doing the round of flatmates.

                    So that is why Bloomberg says they are investigating the clusters to check for community transmission.

                    Once it's in the community, it can be transmitted to a load of people quickly.

                    • Incognito


                    • Carolyn_Nth

                      Whoops. Yes Bloomfield. Checkpoint is just reporting on it now. There are 23 cases of Covid-19 at Matamata. Case zero there had returned from overseas. But some of the positives are bar staff.

                      There are 5 other clusters being investigated.

          • Paddington

            I was in HK in February, and they had thermal testing everywhere. Hotel lobbies, street corners, shopping malls, even some taxi's had them!

            • Incognito

              Most of that gear would have too inaccurate and imprecise and quite likely uncalibrated. In other words, totally unfit for purpose. And that’s not even mentioning asymptomatic cases.

              • Paddington

                How do you know?

                • Incognito

                  Medical equipment has special specifications and requirements, including operation, servicing & maintenance, and regular checking. How do you know all that gear in HK met these?

                  • Paddington

                    I don't. You're the one that claimed you knew it didn't.

                    • veutoviper

                      Exactly, Paddington. I thought that I had sent a query to I asking how he/she knew that "most of that gear" etc but it seems to have disappeared into the ether …

                    • Incognito

                      Because AFAIK taxi drivers generally are not required to carry medically approved thermal measurement gear nor are they required to undergo training in proper use of it. Amateur stuff by scared people who don’t know what they’re doing. Therefore, it is highly likely that these measurements lead to false positives and false negatives (i.e. misleading results), which could result in a false sense of security, which is one of the reasons why not all countries have adopted these at airports, etc.

                    • Drowsy M. Kram

                      Thermographic imaging of humans for fever detection reassures travellers and other members of the general public that measures are being taken to keep us all safe. Re detection of asymptomatic carriers (i.e. the majority of carriers), the verdict is in.

                      "Exit and entry screening may look reassuring, but experience with other diseases shows it’s exceedingly rare for screeners to detect infected passengers. Just last week, eight passengers who later tested positive for COVID-19 arrived in Shanghai from Italy and passed the airport screeners unnoticed, for example. And even if screeners do find the occasional case, it has almost no impact on the course of an outbreak."

                      "There are many ways infected people can slip through the net. Thermal scanners and handheld thermometers aren’t perfect. The biggest shortcoming is that they measure skin temperature, which can be higher or lower than core body temperature, the key metric for fevers. The devices produce false positives as well as false negatives, according to the EU Health Programme. (Travelers flagged as feverish by scanners typically go through a secondary screening where oral, ear, or armpit thermometers are used to confirm the person’s temperature.)

                      Passengers can also take fever-suppressing drugs or lie about their symptoms and where they have been. Most importantly, infected people still in their incubation phase—meaning they don’t have symptoms—are often missed. For COVID-19, that period can be anywhere between 2 and 14 days."

                      I'm not dissing thermographic imaging – it has its uses, and the Covid-19 pandemic will spur further research on a variety of 'new and improved' rapid screening methodologies. Indeed, 'test-before-you-fly' (long-distance) may become the new normal for NZers, much like 'vaccinate-before-you fly' is now for some destinations.

                      Tech That Scans People For Fever In Big Demand Amid Coronavirus Crisis, Boosting Wuhan Company
                      "An analysis of the first 400 documented coronavirus cases found it took an average of five days after infection before patients began to show symptoms. Consequently, thermal scanning at airports is likely to detect fewer than one in five carriers of coronavirus arriving after a 12-hour flight, researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine estimate."

                      "Strahan says some unscrupulous distributors are taking advantage of the high demand to sell thermal cameras designed for industrial use with a wide accuracy range of plus or minus 2 degrees Centigrade. “There are a lot of schleppers out there trying to make a buck on a pandemic.”"

                    • Paddington

                      "Because AFAIK taxi drivers generally are not required to carry medically approved thermal measurement gear nor are they required to undergo training in proper use of it. "

                      AFAIK. But you don't know. They seemed very competent to me. As did the airport, hotel, pharmacy workers.

                    • Incognito []

                      Of course, they did; in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king and they trust him blindly.

                      Confidence is not competence.

                    • Paddington

                      "Re detection of asymptomatic carriers (i.e. the majority of carriers), the verdict is in. "

                      Oh sure, that's true. But that doesn't mean there aren't benefits. From the article you referenced:

                      "Still, researchers say, there can be benefits. Evaluating and quizzing passengers before they board planes—exit screening—may prevent some who are sick or were exposed to a virus from traveling. Entry screening, done on arrival at the destination airport, can be an opportunity to gather contact information that is useful if it turns out an infection did spread during a flight and to give travelers guidance on what to do if they become ill. "

                      "Still, exit screening may have helped head off more draconian travel restrictions by showing that measures were being taken to protect nonaffected countries, said the paper, authored by Christos Hadjichristodoulou and Varvara Mouchtouri of the University of Thessaly and colleagues. Knowing they would have encountered exit screening may also have deterred some people exposed to Ebola from even trying to travel. "

                      And a comment on this:

                      "For countries that nonetheless adopt screening, the World Health Organization emphasizes that it is not a matter of just holding up a thermometer gun. Exit screening should start with temperature and symptom checks and interviews of passengers for potential exposure to high-risk contacts. Symptomatic travelers should be given further medical examination and testing, and confirmed cases should be moved to isolation and treatment. "

                      I travelled through Asia in February and to Melbourne in March. On my return to Auckland on both trips there was no, I mean no screening. Oh, sorry, I was handed a pamphlet.

                    • Paddington

                      "Confidence is not competence. "

                      You seem to be making a lot of claims about people you don't know. For a laugh one of the hotel workers in HK let me take his tempertaure with the thermal gun. You point, press a button, and look at the digital reader. It's not rocket science.

    • Paddington 1.7

      Well said. There are mistakes being made that will no doubt come under far more scrutiny at a later time. However a warning. I like our PM, but this is not the place to express concern about decisions being made by her government. There is a defensiveness about criticism of her that precisely plays to the cult of personality you describe.

      • Incognito 1.7.1

        Some people feel the need to frame it as (a) personality worship or cult. I notice that in your comment also you seem to struggle with the distinction between Government and PM.

        • Paddington

          Not at all. I specifically referred to 'her government'. There is a sensitivity here about criticism of 'her' and 'her government'. Perhaps more so of the former, given where Labour would be without her?

          • Incognito

            Criticisms of the Government don’t play easily into the narrative of personality cult. However, some use the personality cult ‘excuse’ to criticise the Government and vice versa. It comes across as a deliberate political strategy to undermine trust in and authority of this Government. It is more subtle, under the circumstances, but it is still happening. After all, the Election is still on. Politics never rests, least of all in a State of Emergency.

            • Paddington

              There is however an inconvenient truth with this government and that is that without the PM, it is extremely unlikely we would have a Labour led Government. Such was the impact of ascension to leadership. That makes those invested in Labour all the more sensitive to criticism of her (in much the same way natz supporters were of criticism of Key).

              • Incognito

                Right, so, much of all this is going back to 19 Oct 2017 as I wrote yesterday. It supports my thesis that there are deliberate moves to undermine this Government. Much of the current criticism lacks focus and seems to aim at seeding doubt, distrust, and discord but just short of dissent and disobedience. Under the circumstances, this is a risky ploy, not just politically, but in terms of public health. Very Trumpian, indeed, yet some seem to think that our PM holds her re-election prospects in the same light as Trump. I find that ludicrous given that they are diametrically opposed personalities. But this is the strawman’s criticism of the PM and if it tickles your fancy …

                • Paddington

                  "It supports my thesis that there are deliberate moves to undermine this Government. "

                  Not by me. More the point, there will always be deliberate moves to undermine any Government. It's called politics.

      • observer 1.7.2

        If you accuse people of bad faith, of being slaves to the personality cult, then there's not much dialogue to be had. Maybe consider that people have their own minds to make up?

        I said Rosemary was wrong, and explained why I thought so.

        I'm not sure what you think was "well said".

        • Paddington

          Yes, you said "The government would have fallen". Heaven forbid you could be suggesting that tough decisions were delayed because of electoral expediency.

          • observer

            The notion proposed was absurd, so I took that absurdity to its logical conclusion, to demonstrate that it had no basis in reality.

            Do you seriously think Ardern or anybody else considered the prospect?

            Do you seriously think she or her Ministers were given advice by experts and officials in early Feb that we would be where we are now – and she simply ignored it?

            • Paddington

              I don't know whether it was considered or not. You postulated that it was. Whatever you're now trying to say.

              • observer

                I'll help you then. It wasn't considered. And you know it.

                Now stop playing silly games.

                • Paddington

                  Are you saying you know for a fact shutting the borders was never considered?

                  Or are you referring to the prospect of losing government?

                  If the latter, you may not know politicians as well as you think.

                  • observer

                    Put in an OIA request. Easy to do.

                    If it is revealed that the PM was told in early Feb (the time that you and Rosemary are arguing for) that NZ should close its borders to prevent Covid19, and she ignored it to protect the economy, or just through incompetence, then she MUST resign.

                    I'll call for her resignation myself.

                    Obviously you prefer a straw man, but that is what you should do if you decide to deal with reality.

                    • Paddington

                      "…and she ignored it to protect the economy, or just through incompetence…"

                      You claimed she (may have) ignored it to avoid losing government.

                      And I have no doubt whatsoever shutting our borders was 'on the table' in early Feb. If it wasn't, I'd be sacking those bringing the PM advice.

                    • Poission

                      There are no cases of 2019-nCoV in New Zealand to date. The risk of an outbreak in New Zealand is low, but the Ministry of Health is monitoring the situation closely. If any public health measures are needed for this virus, we will advise.

                      WHO does not recommend border screening for 2019-nCoV, and there are currently no travel restrictions at the New Zealand border related to this outbreak. As it is currently winter in Wuhan, respiratory illnesses (such as colds and influenza) are expected among those leaving the region.


                      There are no cases of 2019-nCoV in New Zealand to date. The risk of an outbreak in New Zealand is low, but the Ministry of Health is monitoring the situation closely. If any public health measures are needed for this virus, we will advise.

                      WHO does not recommend border screening for 2019-nCoV, and there are currently no travel restrictions at the New Zealand border related to this outbreak. As it is currently winter in Wuhan, respiratory illnesses (such as colds and influenza) are expected among those leaving the region.

                      Open mike 26/01/2020

          • Drowsy M. Kram

            1st Feb. Covid-19 deaths: 304 (all in China)

            26th Mar. (1st day of level 4 lock down) Covid-19 deaths: 24,073 (3,292 in China)

    • McFlock 1.8

      In addition to the responses about how an early feb sealing of the borders would play out in this case, there is a wider issue that any government prepared to do that, then, would be completely chatastrophic as a government, shying away from every potential crisis at the merest hint. Every outbreak in the world would be met with us sealing the borders. Every Rena would have us banning sea freight. 5G, 4G, 3G, cellphones, all banned.

      We'd have more in common with the Andaman Islanders than Hobbits.

      And that's if you were calling for the borders to be sealed for all travellers at that time. Otherwise it's just one-eyed hindsight.

    • barry 1.9

      How much compliance would there have been, and how much pushback? Would she have had Nationals support?

      The country was not ready for it. Even when she did bring in the 2 week self-isolate policy it was roundly criticised. Now we have nearly everyone agreeing with the shutdown.

      The bulk of our cases are returning kiwis. Some of what we are facing was unavoidable unless we had started getting serious in January when China showed us what serious looked like.

      I thought we should have stopped the cruise ships earlier and I am surprised that so many still went on them after the Diamond Princess, but that is the story in microcosm. Nobody took it seriously enough, and to criticise anyone in hindsight is to criticise everyone.

  2. Andre 2

    Amazingly, SupercallousfragileracistsexistnaziPOTUS is enjoying an uptick is his job approval ratings and and corresponding reduction in his disapproval ratings. Even though by any rational objective assessment the US would be in better shape right now had the Oval Office been occupied by a roadkill skunk rather than the turd tornado currently bespattering its walls.

    • tRump is thinking more of his re-election chances in November than the health and wealth of his people – there are reports he wants his signature on each cheque going to all (?) Americans – 'largess from a caring President who wants your vote?'

      • Andre 2.1.1

        Betcha he wants his terracotta turdface plastered across every one, too. Mind, that would probably save the country bigly money, half the population would be too embarrassed to present something that ugly to a bank teller.

      • Paddington 2.1.2

        “tRump is thinking more of his re-election chances in November than the health and wealth of his people”

        Amazingly, Observer says the same thing about our PM! https://thestandard.org.nz/how-this-may-play-out/#comment-1695952

        • Forgive me, but I think there's a tad of difference between making possibly premature (time will tell) decisions which would change our entire day to day life, and bribing electors to vote for you.

          • Paddington

            The US government, like it's NZ counterpart, is spending large to avoid potentially catastrophic economic consequences. Putting your own name on a cheque is typical Trump. Bribery it isn't.

            • McFlock

              Unlike it's NZ counterpart, the USG seems to value the stockmarket over the lives of its citizens.

              • Paddington

                I agree they do seem to have an exagerated view of the stock market's importance. It reflects in the weird approach US shareholders value share price over dividend return.

            • Bugger me, the other day I complimented The Standard commentators on their patience when dealing with Paddington's nit-picking – and here I am responding to his/her pointless drivel!

              Over and out.

              • Paddington

                Pardon me for suggesting words matter.

              • gsays

                Hi Tony, you said something about nitpicking….

                From my distant memory, it is 'over' (I have finished my sentence and am awaiting a reply) or 'out' (end of transmission, I am not listening any more).

                • In Vino

                  Please don't nit-pick – it diminishes the extent to which words matter. (Maybe Paddington needs to take note of that.)

                  • gsays

                    I commented with Socrates in mind.

                    He felt it was a good thing to be disabused of a falsehood.

                    Perhaps the 'vibe' I in intended could have been made clearer with the appropriate emoticon.

                    • In Vino

                      Mine too – I was with you. But – I would add that to my mind radio operators used to say 'Over' to indicate they had ended what they wanted to say, so the other knew to reply. Then, at the end, they said goodbye by saying 'Over and out'.

                    • KJT

                      "Over" means "over to you" I've finished speaking and it is your turn.

                      "Out" means I've finished the conversation and the channel is free for other users.

                      “Proper” radio operators would go spare if you said “over and out”.

                      For those interested, the standard international radio vocabulary is referenced in the "international code of signals".

  3. Carolyn_Nth 3

    There's not a full consensus that Covid-19 is a problem and supporting the current lock down. I am seeing the rise of NZ-based Covid-19 denialists on twitter. As I wrote here, these are the main lines they are presenting:

    1. More people die of flu each year than are dying from Covid-19

    2. This virus has been around for years and no one has noticed.

    3. The mainstream experts are people with power doing this for their own commercial or career interests: either big pharma, or academics seeking promotion.

    Opposition MPs and the mainstream media may be on board, but there's an under-current of Kiwis who don't trust the authorities and main narrative on this – including 1 or 2 people I'd have thought would not be susceptible to the denialiast message.

    • Andre 3.1

      Among the NZ-based users, are you seeing any of the Repugnant 'oldies should be willing to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the economy' ideas being expressed in uglier parts of the US discourse?

      • Carolyn_Nth 3.1.1

        No. Not really. more a softer line about the people dying are largely similar to the flu in that it is the oldies and those with underlying conditions that are dying.

        But they ignore the knock-on impact of the overwhelming of or ICUs, which would mean other people who need ICU would not be able to get it.

        I saw a tweet form a USian today, saying a 2 year old relative had been diagnosed positive with Covid-19.

  4. RedLogix 4

    Social media has become interesting lately. Twitter has become civilised. Apart from Democracy Mum and Hamish Price most right wing commentators have become much more respectful. The left have toned it down as well.

    Indeed. I'm not sure I've communicated this well, but over the past five or so years this is a theme I've skimmed past many times in one form or another.

    Trustworthiness is the foundation of all things.

    Certainly the cheater problem will always be with us, some people will always prove untrustworthy. Yet we must not allow them to contaminate the social discourse; we must each of us prove ourselves to be better than this, that we can be truthful in spirit, and listen to others with respect.

    And now this crisis is showing to us this is no utopian dream, it is not a futile wish … it is showing us that we were perfectly capable of it all along.

  5. joe90 5

    The self-culling continues.

    • joe90 5.1


      The data, collected by location technology company X-Mode, was recently plugged into the geospatial data visualization platform known as Tectonix as part of an effort to track the coronavirus across the globe.


      In just one example of the project’s findings, cellphones on a beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, during spring break were selected and tracked. When the festivities ended, the cellphones were seen sprawling out across the Eastern half of the country, potentially bringing cases of the highly contagious virus with them.


      • Andre 5.1.1

        🤣 🤣 " they are having problems down in Florida with New Yorkers going down there" 🤣🤣

        Awesome self-awareness there from the Dork from New York.

  6. Janet 6

    The BIG mistake was not having level 0

    Locking the border early February .

    If they had then NZ would be not in Lock Down now and guessing what happens next … and costing a fortune.

    But no they had to let every one home.

    They could have let the early ones home . They could have spent that fortune quarantining them instead.

    In a war , it makes sense but not in a Pandemic when they are dragging the enemy home with them.

    A traveller must take some responsibility for himself when he leaves home shores.

    Any dramatic beneficial effects. Of the current Lock down are being eroded away that they are STILL letting the stragglers in with up to 50 cases a day among them. Its makes are scarifices re Lock down a mockery .

    Shut the F…… border !

    • observer 6.1

      Of course it would still have cost a fortune.

      Nothing NZ does would affect the global pandemic, or global economy.

      In early February, quarantine would have been enforced at the point of a gun. Who would have wanted to obey?

  7. weka 7

    Thanks micky. Very sobering, but an important post. I think we are in a transition of adjusting to what the lock down means and where the precise boundaries are, but this post makes it very clear the consequence of getting it wrong. Talking the citizens here not the govt.

    Lots of people are doing ok, and there will be a sizeable number who are already struggling. I see the need over the next few weeks to find new ways to help people as we get up to speed with where the holes in the system are. I'm also heartened by how twitter has changed, it bodes well of us in NZ.

  8. Ad 8

    Really tough personal break for you and the others in your law firm Mickey.

    I have absolutely no doubt that you will have treated them well.

    Must be time for us to reassess how long we actually keep working.

    Good post there.

  9. observer 9

    On this and other threads there's discussion about what "should" have happened earlier in NZ, so it may be useful to see what was happening around the world.

    Border restrictions by each country

    Note the dates. Lots of March. Not much Feb.

    Sure, NZ might have had different advice from everywhere else, might have had a unique insight that nobody else had, and might have been immediately supported by its population when asked (sorry, ordered) to change everything, at once.

    Or not.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 9.1

      Useful link (go Wikipedia); seems that closing borders in early Feb. would have put NZ seriously out of step with other countries.

      'Captain Hindsights' are currently proliferating almost as fast as Covid-19 itself wink

      • Incognito 9.1.1

        I always wash my hands for 20 sec after reading certain comments and my skin is getting very dry.

      • Janet 9.1.2

        This is Captain Foresight ! I have said all along that NZ because it is uniquely different from most countries. a nation of islands, early border closure with incoming NZ'ers quarantined, would have left most NZers day to day lives relatively unaffected. Mainly just Tourism and its supporting services would have been affected. Some times "gut feeling" should be factored in to clinical over- analyzing and endless collaboration, even if it puts NZ "seriously out of step with other countries."

        Now you can go wash your hands again Incognito! I,ll try and say no more .

        • Psycho Milt

          Yes, fantasy football types have plenty of coulda/woulda/shoulda utterly impractical advice on what the government should have done back in February. Running a country isn't just "here's my simple solution to this immediate problem."

          Here's a few possible reasons why the government didn’t do what newly-minted armchair pandemic response experts think they should have back in February:

          1. Tanking your country's economy for a possible, unknown future benefit would be wildly irresponsible.

          2. If they had taken that punt, we'd now have had two months' worse of trashing the economy for a net gain of… what, exactly? We sure would have slowed the virus' entry into NZ, but there's a trade-off in that – we want to slow it sufficiently to not overwhelm our health system, but not so much so that we're trashing our economy for month after month to no good purpose.

          3. Where do the policies and procedures, the people, the equipment and the facilities to quarantine the thousands of NZers arriving in NZ come from? How long does it take to implement them? People say "close the borders" as though someone throws a switch – it's really not that easy.

          No doubt there are others, I’m sure as hell no expert.

          TL/DR: every complex problem has a simple, and wrong, solution.

        • Andre

          You wanna link to where you spelled out your insights of what was going to happen from failing to close the borders early, Captain Foresight? Coz I've just had done a search on your comment history and didn't find anything with even the slightest hint of relevance until 14th March, and even that was tangential.

          • McFlock

            I'm actually quite shocked at the number of people who knew the borders should have been sealed six weeks ago but didn't end every comment they made here at that time with "and we need to seal the borders right now", Cato-style.

  10. Treetop 10

    I had a full on head cold and sore throat the second week of March so I did not go to the lab for needed blood tests unrelated to my head cold and sore throat. All the 3rd week in March I considered going for blood tests. I made the decision that it was to big a risk so I stayed away. I considered other people and did what was right for me at the time.

    A person did have the option to make decisions to limit the risk of being exposed to Covid-19 until the government decided to enforce a lockdown. I was very pleased when the decision was made.

    There was no quick fix to prevent Covid-19 from entering the country and Covid-19 is like a rat. Rats are found where there are people.

  11. mauī 11

    Seems that any perceived Fauci and Trump fallout is just media propaganda, Fauci himself has said that Trump listens to his advice.

    Trump's job is to mobilize the state and he has done so. As usual the Democrat response to anything Trump is just howls of irrelevancy.

    • joe90 11.1

      If your knee-jerk reaction is to praise human excrement like tRump because you don't like your candidate's opponents, you're not part of a political movement.

      You're part of a cult.

  12. Robert Guyton 12

    Tough thread! Here, read this if you yearn for something wider in scale.


  13. A 13

    I’m really enjoying the air of co-operation in political spheres. Hope this continues x

  14. Corey Humm 14

    Even if more time is needed this shut down will be lucky to go a month let alone be extended, this is NZ we will want our rights back quite soon, it’s unsustainable. I will vote labour regardless but God help the govt if the prime minister announces she means to extend this by another fortnight, that’ll be the end of this govt. People are praising the PM right now because we’re in the honeymoon period but this won’t last long , most people who are non political btw don’t believe the shut down will last a full month and the armchair pundits can pontificate all they want, the gift can try it’s best but it can’t control the people, while the lockdown is needed this is still an insane intrusion by the state into people’s lives and has removed our basic human rights, if the prime minister says four weeks in that we’ll be shut down for a longer period huge swathes of the general public will say bugger that we tried I want my life back “this is Cindy’s fault she should have closed the borders earlier “ “why didn’t we have a better plan” and disobey the state, the longer this goes on the more people will blame rightly or wrongly the prime minister. Four decades of neoliberalism has produced an individualist society who won’t think it’s fair that their basic human rights have been taken away given to a police force and there has long been paranoia by kiwis about the police and sate , this will only intensify.

    If large swaths of the public start disobeying and the nz police and defence force will be overwhelming we use force on them…for visiting their people will go nuts and The pm will be blamed.

    The longer this goes on the less trust in humanity I have ,seeing people proudly boasting about reporting friends and loved ones and neighbors to the state and getting praised for it is extremely unsettling and scary. The toll this is taking on people’s wallets, mental health is excruciating I wouldn’t be surprised if we lose more people to suicide than to the virus

    anyway as a young person I can’t see this being sustained for longer than a month after four decades of me over we there will come a time when the individuals right to socialise will be more important to them than the horrific death toll of this virus.

    So this month better work. Sorry I needed to vent. It all feels very Orwellian “report disobedience “ “be kind” “today this many people died overseas” “stay home save lives” I know it’s needed but it’s a lot and I just want to know when I’ll have my human rights back cos honestly… as much as I admire the pm I don’t trust the police or the state as far as I can throw em


    • observer 14.1

      According to today's briefing a total of 3 people have been arrested for breaking lockdown rules. Only one was detained, that was because of other outstanding issues.

      I think we've got some way to go before NZ is anywhere near Orwellian.

      Sure, it's good to vent, most of us want to – but let's keep some perspective.

      (and prepare for the lockdown to be extended – which is a far better option than going up and down the levels, people will be far grumpier about that).

    • KJT 14.2

      I'm picking more like three months.

      Which is why it is so important to ensure measures are proportionate and justified, to keep public support.

      On the whole, they have been, with some hiccups, as you would expect.

      There is a huge amount to think of in a short time.

      You may be interested in this. https://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/national/theres-no-vaccine-against-distrust/ar-BB11T2Om?ocid=spartanntp

  15. Jeremy 15

    The researchers at Te Punaha Matatini should all be fired forthwith.

    There is no a snowball's chance in hell that over 80,000 NZers would die, even in the most uncontrolled, rapid spread of infection, with unchanged behaviour at the individual level with near homologised mixing of the population.

    There are simply far too many data points now pointing out how ridiculous the notion is.

    If this is the kind of advice our and other governments are getting, then we're about to be plunged into a depression that will cause exponential more death than is prevented.

    • Incognito 15.1

      Don’t get fixated on the exact number. Focus on the actual modelling. Yours is the typical response of somebody who doesn’t like the message and calls for immediate firing of people left, right, and centre. How very Trumpian. Your last sentence is hyperbole.

      • Muttonbird 15.1.1

        Hyperbole in that increased deaths will not be exponential but there will be casualties from the response.

        And the way it looks to be tracking those casualties will be in excess of virus casualties, and they will include a lot of people at the beginning and in the prime of their lives.

        That's not to say that those Covid-19 threatened lives aren't valuable. But it should be acknowledge that how much or how little to do is a very inexact science. We have acted very aggressively and that will have its own consequences. The alternative though was to flirt with many thousands of deaths among our most vulnerable.

        It doesn't look like there is any setting in between you could be confident in.

        • Incognito

          And more hyperbole …

          • Muttonbird

            That's not an example of hyperbole. You might want to look at the definition.

            Our response is complete submission. Others dither which is dangerous ground. And still others do nothing at all.

            What I'm saying is that the secondary casualties from our response shouldn't be ignored or diminished because those casualties will be real people who otherwise would have survived this.

            Also acknowledging our aggressive response will likely deliver very, very few Covid-19 related deaths. That is to be commended.

            • Incognito

              Your comment was just rhetoric (i.e. hyperbole) and lacked substance. For example, what “casualties” are you referring to? Give some examples, with some support, not just more hyperbole.

              One NZ modelling study predicted that as many as 80,000 Kiwis could die of COVID-19 if we did nothing. Let’s use this as a starting point for the unintended “casualties from our response [that] shouldn’t be ignored or diminished because they will be happening to real people who otherwise would have survived this”.

              • Muttonbird

                I'm concerned about the mental wellbeing of many people already on the edges of society and unable or unwilling to access services.

                I'm also thinking about the many people who will be pushed into this category as a result of the economic upheaval sustained by our response to Covid-19.

                Doesn't seem to have been a lot of modelling done for these people.

                • Incognito

                  Yes, that is a valid concern, which is on the Government’s mind too.

                  I believe Jeremy was talking about an economic depression and you are talking about a mental depression because of an economic depression.

                  I agree that it is highly likely that there will be direct and indirect impacts of the economic downturn. The Government is doing its best to minimise any negative impact but it is unavoidable that there will be some casualties. The harrowing story of an Italian nurse committing suicide is not something anybody would like to see happening here in NZ or anywhere in the world for that matter.

                  Nevertheless, I don’t quite understand where you’re going with your concerns about mental health unless you want to soften the lockdown rules under Alert Level 4 and effectively lower it to Alert Level 3. Is that what you want?

      • Jeremy 15.1.2

        A figure of 80,000 is almost twice the per capita fatality rate of the Spanish flu. Even with a much wider percentage of the population infected it is simply implausible, all the data from mass testing of controlled populations that have been infected illustrates this clearly. So yes, when someone performs their job so incompetently that it induces further unwarranted fear or panic, that will cost lives, I tend to think they should be fired. It's the statistical equivalent of yelling fire in a crowded theatre.

        The exact number is the only thing that matters and the model used is of crucial importance in getting as close to that number as possible. Anyone with three brain cells to rub together know what exponential growth looks like. This virus is somewhere between half to 3 times as fatal as the flu and approximately twice as infectious and kills as per the other 4 coronavirus that currently circle, i.e. mainly the elderly with co-morbidities. I'm not really sure what you're going on about my feelings and trump. Nonsense as far as I can tell.

        We have already killed our tourism industry, that was 10% of our economy, that is a depression. Unless we take steps to restart it within the next few months, which seems unlikely, our actions from now well determine how big of a depression it is. The brunt will be borne by the poor and disadvantaged, and the health consequences will be far worse than anything the virus has the genetic potential to cause – and which I might point out are probably impossible to avoid. The health risks of depressions have been modelled well and are well understood, so it is not hyperbole.

        • observer

          The government is due to release the details of the modelling tomorrow. We'll have more data to examine then.

          It's not helpful to say "we have already killed our tourism industry". The virus did that, regardless of any action taken in NZ. The borders were never going to remain open to tourists, and obviously we can do nothing about policies in the rest of the world. So whether we did too much or too little, it makes little difference to the foreseeable future of international tourism in NZ.

          • Jeremy

            Yes, you're right I should have been more clear. I was meaning that we seem intent on keeping it dead. The current plan seems to be to try and eradicate the virus from NZ and then keep the borders closed until an effective treatment or vaccine comes along.

            Which is bonkers (a technical term). We don't currently have effective treatments to stop the existing 4 coronaviruses from causing fatalities in the elderly, ill and immune compromised and there is no vaccine for them, or SARS or MERS. A vaccine could be 10 years away – if at all. If the plan is currently "blind hope and damn the consequences" then that isn't a plan.

            We need to accept the reality that the low risk members of the population will/should be exposed to the virus over the next 6 months, and that is the only viable plan that results in the least amount of harm to all members of our society.

        • mauī

          The Spanish flu isn't a bad comparison actually, because this new disease is about as infectious, almost as deadly, and has gone global.

          • Jeremy

            No it's not. The Spanish flu had an infection fatality rate of 2.5% to 5%. This virus has an upper bound of 0.3% and probably much lower given the few situations where population level testing has done and new data on how many are dying with disease, not from the disease. It is twice as infectious.

            The Spanish Flu was much, much worse. That alone shows the modelling being done in NZ is incompetent scaremongering.

            • mauī

              If the upper bound Case Fatality Rate is 0.3%… then why does a country such as Germany with an excellent health care system currently have a CFR of 1.0%? Then there's South Korea with a CFR of 1.6%. Both of those countries have massively tested their populations so those numbers won't change significantly, but are more likely to rise as there is a lag time for deaths. Most other countries CFR's will be higher still towards your 2.5-5% range.

              Regarding infectivity, I've seen sources that Corona has an R0 of between 1.0 – 3.0. The Spanish Flu has about the same number, it's not "twice as infectious".

              • Andre

                Jeremy is talking about infection fatality rate, not case fatality rate.

                There's some assumptions being made on the basis of very limited data about how much higher the infection rate is compared to the detected case rate. For both SARS-CoV-2 and for Spanish Flu.

              • Jeremy

                Over time the case fatality rate and the estimated infection fatality rate become the same. The case fatality rate trends down, usually massively, as more testing is done and then the infection fatality rate becomes factual as serological testing for antibodies can be done.

                The examples of Germany and South Korea prove my point, the more testing that is done the lower the CFR heads, and closer to the number that actually matters, the IFR. However both those countries, while having tested more widely than others, have likely missed hundreds of thousands of cases. We know this from 2 data points, Iceland and the repatriated Wuhan flights. Where in both cases population level testing showed Iceland had 1.0% of the population test positive about a month or so after first case, and the Wuhan flights had 0.9% test positive in about the same time frame. This doesn't include people who have had the virus and then recovered. Applied to the German and South Korean populations 1% is many hundreds of thousands of cases and drives the real IFR probably a lot lower than 0.3% – which is why it is the upper bound.

                The research I've read the abstracts for gives the R0 for the Spanish Flu at 1.3 – 1.5 and this virus 2.2-2.4. I used 2.4 as the R0 when calculating the worst scenario.

        • Incognito

          I cannot tell if you have actually read the modelling study by the members of Te Pūnaha Matatini so here’s the link to the Executive Summary and Abstract: https://www.tepunahamatatini.ac.nz/2020/03/26/suppression-and-mitigation-strategies-for-control-of-covid-19-in-new-zealand/

          You’ll see that it is all about strategies. The mitigation strategy was considered to be “very high risk” if they were to rely on herd immunity. Consistent with this, the Government has never ever considered this as an option. For example:

          Herd immunity against coronavirus never an option for New Zealand – Jacinda Ardern

          The PM says she would not tolerate tens of thousands of New Zealanders dying to gain herd immunity before a vaccine.


          The recommend strategy is what we’re doing now and this has the best chance of protecting the elderly with co-morbidities and other vulnerable people. It is also our best chance to fully eradicate the virus within our country. If we don’t succeed, as the modelling shows, thousands of lives could be lost and the exact number is anybody’s guess.

          Therefore, I see absolutely no reason to fire those scientists for their sound work. BTW, have you heard of the catchphrase “you’re fired!”?

          … and the health consequences [from an economic depression] will be far worse than anything the virus has the genetic potential to cause …


          • Jeremy

            Yes, I have. The maths is fine, the computer does the heavy lifting but the problem is the input data they are using is outdated and incorrect. Garbage in, garbage out.

            In the worst case scenario of completely unmitigated spread, it is 5M x .62 till we reach an R0=1 x 0.3 IFR = 9,300 deaths, of which 88% would have been included in our 60,000 annual deaths over the next few years, most this year. We're talking about excess mortality of approx. 1110 unfortunately happening all at once – in the worst case scenario.

            It is a question of health versus health. A 10 year period of depression will cause far more deaths than that, and in younger people.

            • Incognito

              You must prefer the latest updated modelling then. Don’t worry about strategies, just focus on the final number and see if it goes up or down depending on the … strategies.


              • Jeremy

                It's better but still out by at least 300%, in total deaths and probably orders of magnitude out for deaths directly attributable to the virus.

                I think what you are focussing isn't correct, you are focussing on what you think will reduce death from the virus as much as possible at any price, but there are multitudinous side effects depending on what strategy you use.

                The modelling for NZ is that for a 1% increase in unemployment approx. 550 people will die. So keeping the tourism industry dead will cost about 5500 lives. These are extrapolated from American figures that can be found by googling the below research:

                Thomas and Carson "The cost of unemployment", page 300


                Bluestone, Harrison and Baker, "The Causes and Consequences of Economic Dislocation" 1981

                These are obviously just the first order effects and under normal recessionary circumstances, not without having first put a country under an indefinite house arrest and all mental issues that will cause and then into an economic depression.

                So we've likely already locked in 5500 deaths (which will mainly be disadvantaged people) and misery for all in society to avoid 1100 excess deaths.

                • Incognito

                  It’s better but still out by at least 300%, in total deaths and probably orders of magnitude out for deaths directly attributable to the virus.

                  Ok, I look forward to your PDF because making these assertions in brief comments on this site are never going stand up to the same level of scrutiny as the papers that you so vehemently reject. In addition, we cannot verify your credentials. Until then, I’ll stick with the published modelling studies by reputable people who put their names underneath it.

                  I think what you are focussing isn’t correct, you are focussing on what you think will reduce death from the virus as much as possible at any price, but there are multitudinous side effects depending on what strategy you use.

                  I focus on what the modelling studies focus on, which is strategies. These studies do mention limitations as all good studies should. Indeed, every strategy will have intended and unintended consequences, but this is a general statement that doesn’t get us any further. I think these studies make good points although we can quibble about the input parameter values. I don’t appreciate you putting words in my mouth, as I have never stated anything remotely resembling adopting strategies “at any price”.

                  The modelling for NZ is that for a 1% increase in unemployment approx. 550 people will die. So keeping the tourism industry dead will cost about 5500 lives. These are extrapolated from American figures that can be found by googling the below research:

                  Thomas and Carson “The cost of unemployment”, page 300


                  Bluestone, Harrison and Baker, “The Causes and Consequences of Economic Dislocation” 1981

                  I see you have watched Brad Pitt in The Big Short. Please do some real research before you start spraying numbers around on this site, thanks. Who’s “keeping the tourism industry dead” and for how long? Do you want us to open the borders again for a couple of million visitors from overseas each year? Where will they come from and how? Are they ultra-long-distance swimmers by any chance?

                  So we’ve likely already locked in 5500 deaths (which will mainly be disadvantaged people) and misery for all in society to avoid 1100 excess deaths.

                  More unsupported assertions – and you really do smoke your own dope, don’t you? – but I have a suspicion this will not deter to follow up with more of the same.

                  • Jeremy

                    I think using the term "at any price" is fair as intended consequences aren't being considered in the strategy we are currently taking, and the strategies are based on wildly inaccurate base assumptions, the research to which I have pointed out a number of times.

                    Yes the big short is where I first heard that statistic, it intrigued me and I then I read the research, which I cited which is how you figured out where I first heard it. I'm not sure why you think where someone first hears about research makes the research less valid.

                    Re. tourism, China is the only other country that is going with the eradication strategy, mainly due to the early CFRs being so scary. The rest of the world will be flying again this year, and we’re going to wait till there is maybe a vaccine in an indeterminate amount of time?

                    • Incognito

                      You can use “at any price” if you like. You cannot create the impression that it is equivalent to or agrees with my words and meaning. That’s putting words in my mouth and I object to that, if you don’t mind.

                      The research you read from that movie was outdated. When you do research, you should always check multiple lines of support for and against, check (for) updates, etc. You failed and missed how this area has moved on from Bard Pitt uttering these words for effect in that movie.

                      I have no idea how long our borders will remain closed to non-citizens and non-permanent residents.

                      Lastly, you keep bringing up Italy to support your misguided reckons about excess mortality rates caused by COVID-19. Italy is a large country, as you know, and the cases and deaths are not evenly spread. The epicentre is Lombardy with a population of 10 million. As of March 31, they had over 43,000 cases in Lombardy, and over 7,000 deaths. Do you still want to argue that this is “within the normal variance”?


        • McFlock

          A figure of 80,000 is almost twice the per capita fatality rate of the Spanish flu.


          This virus is somewhere between half to 3 times as fatal as the flu and approximately twice as infectious

          These statements seem to be consistent, the latter meaning the former is plausible. If anything, 80,000 is likely to be an undercount based on your comment about infection and fatality rates.

          • Jeremy

            Regular flu has an IFR of 0.1%. Spanish Flu was 25 to 50 times that.

            • McFlock

              So what's your source of covid-19 having a case fatality rate of 0.3%? Because that seems to be at the low end of the scale.

              • Jeremy

                Case fatality rate is irrelevant, infection fatality rate is what matters, it's upper bound is currently 0.3%.

                The Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University has summarised the data points well, their upper bound is a bit lower than 0.3%, and they are being conservative, understandably, it's probably going to end up much lower if the experience of swine flu, SARS and MERS continues, i.e. CFR and the corresponding IFR is massively overrated within the first 10 weeks of an epidemic.

                Sorry I can't paste the link (on my phone) but Google "cebm Oxford coronavirus case fatality rates" and it will pop up. Numerous links to early research on the tested closed populations, or stories with links to the early research.

                • McFlock

                  So you're jumping between IFR, CFR, and population mortality rate, alongside jumping from "Spanish" flu to "regular" flu (but not clearly identifying the distinction).

                  All to poo-poo an 80k death worst case scenario.

                  Let's divide that by ten, or roughly 0.003 of (5mil*.6). Not precise, but not an order of magnitude out, either.

                  How does the change from 80,000 additional dead in the next few months to 8,000 dead alter any response to this outbreak in NZ? Should we reopen our borders? Go to cinemas? Eat out again?

                  Those are rhetorical questions. The answer is "nope".

                  • Jeremy

                    Hi McFlock,

                    If you reread my comments you can see I have consistently talked about the IFR, the only comments I've made on the CFR is to point out it currently so inaccurate as to be irrelevant when others have brought it up.

                    I've referred to the Spanish Flu epidemic as the "Spanish Flu" and regular seasonal influenza as the "flu", again consistently but I apologise if that wasn't clear.

                    60,000 people die in NZ every year, and sadly the evidence from overseas shows that so far while a lot of people are dying with coronavirus it is causing little excess mortality. The excellent website for the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford Uni is tracking the week by week mortality in the European counties being affected currently and mortality is DOWN compared to the same week over most of the last few years, including in Italy. We cannot stop death due to age and illness, it is highly unlikely that we can stamp out this virus, but we can have a discussion about what we should be doing to limit the side effects of our current actions that are likely already laying the foundations to kill more people than the virus itself.

                    • Jeremy []

                      That will teach me to rely on my memory, I should have checked that first, but it doesn't really change my point.

                    • pat

                      it may not change your point but it is relevant…the reason I picked up your error was because I had checked yesterday to see how the projections compared to current death rate and was surprised to see it was at just over 30000 pa…..that adds considerable context to the projections

                    • Jeremy []

                      I'm missing something here, 4,800,000 / 33,000 = 145 years.

                      Is there some demographic shift I'm not aware of?

                      Are the stats not including certain deaths? 60,000 would seem to be more likely.

                    • McFlock

                      What Pat said.

                      And if week-by-week mortality is down overall, doesn't that mean that the measures used to contain covid are also saving other lives?

                      Either way, a large factor in how our economy changes in the future depends on global factors. How we manage our tourists goes hand in glove with how many people want to be tourists.

                      It's like dairying and everything else – all in moderation, and eliminate the negative externalities where possible.

                    • Jeremy []

                      No, it means the virus is killing people who in many cases would have died in other parts of the hospital.

                      If someone has bowel cancer and is on chemotherapy for 6 months which compromises their immune system, if they then catch a cold or flu and die in any other year that death is attributed to the cancer not the cold or flu.

                      The Italians have confirmed that they are making no distinction and all deaths of virus positive patients are being counted as being caused by the virus. The first research of 355 deaths from Italy that had good data showed that 352 had at least one serious co-morbidity and over 75% had two or more, and the average age of the deceased was 78. Again the people dying from this are the type of people who die from common colds, which shows that the upper bound of an IFR of 0.3%, or 3 times as bad as the flu is likely to be way over again as this virus doesn't manifest as a bad flu, 50% – 70% of the infected population is completely asymptomatic.

                    • pat

                      that would appear to be a very odd way to calculate expected death rate….especially with a considerable immigration influx and increasing life expectancy

                    • Jeremy []

                      If I remember correctly life expectancy goes up about a year per decade or so, which wouldn't have much of an effect. I admit I don't care about immigration and had no idea of the inflow but that could definitely explain it.

                    • pat

                      you may wish to consider the additional to covid deaths that would occur in a swamped health system…I have a relative whose cancer op has been put on hold due to the covid pandemic that may well shorten her life considerably….there will be many such cases…and that number would increase considerably with a full scale epidemic.

                    • Jeremy []

                      Most modelling says it will double fatalities, but this really depends on the IFR. If the IFR ends up being 0.05% which is well within the realm of possibility this will have been another massive overestimate.

                    • pat

                      what explains it is in the demographic profile….something so basic you shouldnt have neglected it….and immigration alters that profile downwards so cannot be ignored either

                    • Jeremy []

                      Fair enough you got me there, I've never been interested in immigration our it's effects on our demographics so I didn't consider it. Not sure where I thought I remembered the 60K p.a. deaths from.

                    • McFlock

                      cf:The excellent website for the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford Uni is tracking the week by week mortality in the European counties being affected currently and mortality is DOWN compared to the same week over most of the last few years, including in Italy.

                      No, it means the virus is killing people who in many cases would have died in other parts of the hospital.

                      No, hang on, we're talking weekly all-cause mortality, right? If it's just covid killing people instead of heart disease, there'd be no change in mortality, due to a direct cause substitution. No change in count, just a different contributing cause.

                      But if all-cause mortality is decreased, then there's a confounding factor at work. Covid's killing people before they might otherwise have died (although one can debate aggregate life-years lost). That should lead to a slight (albeit maybe so-slight-as-to-be-undetectable) increase in mortalities: we're getting tomorrow's deaths today. But if it's gone down, it means that other causes aren't killing people.

                      Things like traffic deaths, non-covid infectious diseases, that sort of thing. They could well have decreased because of covid-related controls. Not much traffic in a quarantine.

                      edit: re 60k, you’d have flipped the rough birth and death numbers. It happens.

                    • Jeremy []

                      It has has decreased, but it is within normal variance, what I'm saying is that the virus is only causing excess mortality in 12% of cases and that isn't yet able to overcome the normal year to year variance currently.

                      It doesn't mean it won't eventually overcome the previously weekly mortality as infections peak, but if Italy does already have millions of unreported cases – as it is reasonable to assume given the data, then it's not clear out ever will, or by how much, nothing shocking in all likelihood. We should be talking about how we can take actions to reduce pressure on our health system while restarting all parts of our economy and avoiding all the deaths that go with a depression.

                      I understand how hard this is for politicians. Someone dying without access to a ventilator is shocking and a horrible way to die, while someone committing suicide because they can't find a job in 12 months time is hidden and normal, but it doesn't change what is the right choice to make.

                    • McFlock

                      🙄 So now it's within the normal variance, rather than having actually gone down.

                      Look, this is a generally left wing site, so the idea that economic hardship is a cause of higher death rates is a reasonable proposition. But letting people die now isn't a decision we have to make to avoid that.

                      This isn't the trolley problem. How we deal with the depression/recession that follows this globally is just as important as how we deal with the outbreak, but the problems do not necessarily conflict with each other.

                      Firstly, I suspect the two most harmful issues in the post-pandemic economy will be the highest level of objective deprivation and the inequality within the local economy. These will be significant, but can be ameliorated by government policy as long as we're prepared to shift the overton window. Things like a UBI have been floated by people in a position to implement it. Substantial increases to baseline benefits. That sort of thing.

                      Thern there's longer-term repositioning of our economy. For thirty years or more we've been structuring an economy to maintain a level of unemployment that has led to generational alienation of some families. Sure, the post-pandemic economy might recover, but automation is still going to happen. Sooner or later that structural unemployment will expand to 20% or 30% of the population. We need to figure out how to enable unemployed people to live fulfilling lives without stigmatizing them. Let them live well, without shame or boredom.

                      These are things to work on after we've saved as many lives as possible from being ended by covid-19. Choosing between the two is not the cold logic of survival. Choosing to choose is an abandonment of the control we have over both challenges.

                    • Jeremy []

                      While I admire your optimism I don't think it's realistic to expect benefits to rise when tax receipts are likely to crash over $10B. Everyone is going to have to get by with less than they had pre-crisis, as you’ve indicated hurting those below the poverty line our struggling to make ends meet before this the most, and the earlier we stop with the lockdown and the current strategy the less death and pain will be felt cumulatively by all.

                    • McFlock

                      well, except the people who died.

                      It's not optimism to say that we need to restructure the economy. Business as usual will not be an option, no matter how long the lockdown lasts.

                      So the government come October needs to lead the country through that economic restructure.

                      How badly the most vulnerable in society are affected by that restructure will be a political decision from the government at the time, and will be made regardless of the length of the current lockdown.

    • weka 16.1

      not terribly surprising. Rather terribly unsurprising. Neoliberalism operating as designed.

      So interesting to see the failure of open borders post-Brexit.

      • pat 16.1.1

        not sure neoliberalism can be blamed for a historically typical national self interest….suspect these reactions would have largely occurred regardless of structure

  16. Robert Guyton 17

    "Rudderless, blindsided, lethargic, and uncoordinated, America has mishandled the COVID-19 crisis to a substantially worse degree than what every health expert I’ve spoken with had feared. “Much worse,” said Ron Klain, who coordinated the U.S. response to the West African Ebola outbreak in 2014. “Beyond any expectations we had,” said Lauren Sauer, who works on disaster preparedness at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “As an American, I’m horrified,” said Seth Berkley, who heads Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “The U.S. may end up with the worst outbreak in the industrialized world.”"


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