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Is New Zealand or the United States the Covid cot case?

Written By: - Date published: 9:39 am, August 22nd, 2020 - 28 comments
Categories: covid-19, Donald Trump, Gerry Brownlee, health, immigration, International, jacinda ardern, Judith Collins, labour, national, same old national, uncategorized, us politics - Tags:

It has been an interesting week in Aotearoean politics.

Instead of smashing through a political advantage Jacinda Ardern chose to delay the election for a month.  Judith Collins and the National Party were given a breather to actually come out with some policy and to make sure that they had candidates in each seat.  Although time will tell if they have succeeded.

And the President of the United States chose to diss Aotearoa’s Covid response and suggested that there was some sort of similarity in the respective countries’ performances.

There was one basic problem with his comments.  He was wrong.

Being wrong has not stopped Trump from saying or doing stupid things in the past.  But there is this problem otherwise known as regular elections which could present him with problems.

What is interesting is what New Zealand’s right wing parties are doing.  When you look at National it is essentially saying similar things to Trump.  Dissing the country’s Covid response, even though compared to every nation in the world apart from Taiwan it has been phenomenal, is pretty strange.  And the relentless negativity dished up by the Herald, by Newstalk ZB and by National MPs still on the country’s payroll appearing on guest slots on Magic Radio is pretty galling.

Perspective is important.  The country’s quarantine system is performing pretty well, remarkably well compared to almost every other advanced nation.  Analysis of the breaches bears this out.

One of the community transmission cases is a poor maintenance worker who apparently pressed an elevator button shortly after it had been pressed by a returning resident who had covid.  Experts all agree that it is exceedingly unlikely that the virus would be transmitted this way but you can bet that after this the hygiene standards in the Covid hotels were just wound up a few notches more.

The second case, which has spread parts of the Auckland community, is still being investigated.  Genome analysis suggests that it did not come from anyone in quarantine.  Although the scientific consensus is skeptical to the idea the best explanation still is that it came in through imported food.

Jacinda Ardern is right.  This is a really tricky virus.  Responses have to be quick and decisive.  And defensive systems have to be multilayered and ever evolving as we learn more about the virus’s capabilities.  Now is not the time for retrospective naval gazing unless and only if it improves our defensive systems.

This week National announced its border policy.  The two headlines from the policy was a new organisation, the NZ Border Protection Agency, to “provide comprehensive oversight and management of COVID-19 at the border”.  Just what we need.  Six months of uncertainty, getting people to apply for new jobs and have existing leadership put into a caretaker role as they wonder what will happen to their positions.

There are examples in our recent past of setting up new entities to handle national disasters.  For instance there was the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Agency, an organisation that Gerry Brownlee was instrumental in creating.  In 2016 Treasury gave CERA’s Christchurch Central rebuild project the worst possible rating project the worst possible rating, confirmation that the project was failing to meet schedule, budget, or quality targets.

The second major proposal was to require a clean Covid test before a person bordered a plane to return to Aotearoa.  This proposal would be complex and difficult.  What about a person who was in a country where these tests could not be obtained?  How do we account for fraud?  What about their rights as a citizen and New Zealand passport holder?  What about whanau wanting their loved one to be returned?

And it would not necessarily make us safer.  Air terminals appear to be breeding grounds for the disease and a person with a clean test three days before a flight could still be infected with the disease overseas and then return with it.

Would either of these policies have made a difference?  I doubt it.  While public health officials were writing job applications, clearing out their desks, moving premises and meeting their new leaders they would not be doing the work that was actually important.

And the testing policy would not have made any difference in the current two spreads.  The poor maintenance worker who apparently contracted the virus from a woman who had recently flew in from the states may have still been infected depending on when the woman’s symptoms appeared.  And the cause of the major cluster still has not been identified although transmission from someone in quarantine has been ruled out.

National also wants to “[p]repare a more effective response to future outbreaks, should they occur, allowing lockdowns to be more targeted and shorter in duration”.  Who could disagree with this?  But how would they achieve this?  From the looks of it by doing the same sorts of things the Government is doing anyway but reinforced by the raising of Judith Collins’ eyebrow.

National’s policy is a combination of simplistic snake oil solutions to what is a really complex problem that has defeated countries better resourced than ours.

The Herald is really starting to show its bias, if ever confirmation was needed.  It gave prominent space (in premium) to Steven Joyce, he who cannot operate a spreadsheet, and let him pontificate on how disastrous the Government’s handling of Covid was.

He notes that it is almost certain that the virus came through the border.  Apart from the possibility that it magically materialised out of nowhere this would appear to be a likely explanation.

He said that Ardern has repeatedly said that the border was safe.  It would be good if he could point out where because Ardern and Bloomfield have repeatedly, repeatedly told us that we have to prepare for the possibility of a second outbreak.

He echos the talking points that all right wing commentators are talking about and talks about a “repeated comprehensive failure”.  With what appears like two incursions by the virus after the return of 40,000 kiwis from overseas this is overly dramatic hype.  We have to aim for Perfection and we are not quite there yet but we are still not seeing the unrestricted community spreads of the disease so evident throughout the world.

He also says that we should forget the party politics!  At the same time that Judith and Gerry are undermining trust in the response as a political tactic!

His thinkings are being reinforced by others.  The writers of any column that contains variations of “comprehensive failure” can be added to the cabal of right wing commentators determined to see National back in power.

National is happy to sap at our confidence and at our pride for political advantage.  This is their only chance to return to power.  But at a time where collective effort and support for the Government’s actions is more important than ever it should consider going easy on the politics.

28 comments on “Is New Zealand or the United States the Covid cot case? ”

  1. dv 1

    I saw some one saying trump was meaning increase in term of growth of cases meaning (i think) 6 from 0 is 6/0 is infinite growth.
    i don’t think Trumps would have been smart enough to work that out.

  2. PsyclingLeft.Always 2

    Trump the buffoon (albeit a dangerous one)…spreading fake news. Well thats a given. Good on Jacinda pushback : ) Here we have our own buffoon (not quite so dangerous) "CT" Brownlee disseminating garbage.

    Re the "majick radio" …and the Hosko…and Hawkesbyo…how the hell did they ever get to be the GO TO mouthpieces? Defies belief in Rationality. Hope Voters remember who stopped us becoming a Covid disaster.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 2.1

      Yes, it's precisely because opposition National party MPs can't claim any significant role in preventing NZ from becoming a Covid disaster that they must continue to insist we are a disaster. Against a least effective PM that dull strategy might pay off – as things stand it just serves to reinforce the impression of a shambolic and stupid opposition.

      Suspect some to their mates have already bent their minds towards turning the Covid-19 pandemic into a nice little earner.

      "The largest SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Companies) in history occurred in July 2020 when Pershing Square Tontine Holdings raised $6b. It’s run by Bill Ackman who famously turned a bet of $40 million into $3.9b when Covid-19 caused sharemarkets to plummet earlier this year.

      The reality is summed up by the Financial Times. “It is hardly a ringing endorsement of efficient markets that such a cumbersome invention as the SPAC is the thing that is thriving in lieu of IPOs”.

      The one thing you can be sure of in a crisis – there’s money to be made."

      https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/money/300075926/heres-how-people-make-money-in-a-pandemic

      https://www.kiwiwealth.co.nz/blog/in-case-you-missed-it-covid-19-perspectives
      [many links]

    • Peter 2.2

      On any day there are scores of thousands working in the middle of Wellington going about their normal business, living normal lives.

      If one person goes crazy in the middle of town, through mental health issues, being under the influence of something or just through sheer cussedness who is going to be the big story of the day?

      In the same way your "majick radio …and the Hosko…and Hawkesbyo" are the go to ones. They are the crazies, the outliers, the attention seekers. It is their job to be that and most of 'em have the totally right qualities to fit the bill.

  3. Anne 3

    Whenever Trump makes a mistake which is apparent to everyone with only half a brain, he casts blame on what or who he perceives to be a suitable scapegoat. That is the normal response of a narcissistic sociopath/psychopath.

    A while back he made an ass of himself attempting to recalibrate a weather map with a black pen because he wanted the path of an impending hurricane to extend into Alabama as he had claimed it would do. He attempted to lay the blame for the mistake at the feet of the weather scientists and iirc forced a very senior scientist to resign his position.

    He apparently thought that if he added an extra isobar to the map, the hurricane would see it and accordingly change its course. 😯

    I put his latest into the same category. The current US administration handling of the pandemic has been an unmitigated disaster and no other country on the planet has overtaken them with respect to the consequences. So he turns to New Zealand whose record has been repeatedly praised by the WHO, and tries to equate a tiny outbreak with the ever burgeoning case-counts in America.

    • Mike Smith 3.1

      @ Anne

      Apropos of nothing, I’m reading Catch-22 at the moment, a useful antidote to the real craziness. Yossarian moved the bombing line north to avoid the dangerous raids over Bologna..

      • lprent 3.1.1

        That was a good book. Reminds me that I must find out if the recent TV (series?) on it is in any of my entertainment subscriptions.

        On a complete aside. Just watched the first episode of Star Trek: Picard – showed up on Amazon. That is a hell of step up in the quality on any previous Star trek production – including the movies. My partner was ecstatic – but cruelly cut me off the incipient binge watch.

        She had work to complete that has to be done before another project start ran into it. I thought I was the damn workaholic in our household! Totally unfair… (emulating Sheldon of Big Bang Now 😈 )

  4. Stuart Munro 4

    This is just classical Trump deflection. I expect the correct response is not to produce a balanced rebuttal, but to rubbish Trump as a laughably unreliable source. The Gnats siding with him are merely illustrating their essential spinelessness.

    Although the scientific consensus is skeptical of the idea the best explanation still is that it came in through imported food

    Given that an Auckland mail centre is involved, that too is a plausible transmission path.

  5. Kat 5

    Would the Herald, National supporting media et al be so keen to publish "shock news to hand" opinions that the virus is being spread by right wing activists. You can bet the house on it that left wing activists would be the headlines if it were National in govt. A sinister thought, but you know, Bill Gates was in town(sarc).

  6. greywarshark 6

    Here's a bit of sarcasm from Martyn Bradbury over at DTB about the Covid-19 disputes and criticisms.

    The middle classes who feel vulnerable for the first time in their lives see their sacrifice during lockdown as the greatest act of courage since Kiwis stormed the beaches of Gallipoli, so our fuse for incompetence is short and our solidarity that Jacinda has empowered can become a toxic backlash that vents fears as angry bigotry and spite.

    It shouldn’t be this way, we should in fact feel huge pride and satisfaction in the border process and the track trace programs.

    https://thedailyblog.co.nz/2020/08/21/why-the-criticism-against-governments-border-screw-up-is-actually-incredibly-unfair-chill-out-kiwis/

  7. PaddyOT 7

    "At the same time that Judith and Gerry are undermining trust in the response as a political tactic!"

    Gerry Brownlee poses
    unfavourable risks to NZ's credibility.

    On the day the poisoning of Russian Opposition Alexei Navalny makes international headlines, so too does Brownlee.

    Brownlee brings international embarrassment again having failed to learn from the ridicule he brought NZ over his fake Finland facts in 2012.

    On Al Jazeera, " Coronavirus and conspiratorial dog-whistles return to New Zealand".

    https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/coronavirus-conspiratorial-dog-whistles-return-zealand-200820113656292.html

  8. Red 8

    It’s typical press, build you up and then crash you down, Jacinda enjoyed the accolades, global adoration, did a dance and all that so just needs to live with the down side. Saying all of that this whole “It’s a global competition on who is doing better is bs and we / Jacinda/ Mickey should not even play into it.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 8.1

      Quite right Red, it's not a competition – nevertheless "We don't know how lucky we are"

  9. barry 9

    With the maintenance worker we were lucky to pick it up. it was due to the increased testing of MIQ staff. Most likely otherwise we would never have known, and he wouldn't have infected anybody else. It appears that as many of 80% of infected people don't pass it on.

    Most infections happen in the home, and the big cluster-causing events happen in cool stores, meat works, churches, restaurants & pubs etc. This explains the current cluster. It seems to have originated in the cool store and spread through families and churches.

    There is no good evidence for any cause, and the trail has probably gone cold. It seems it didn't come from MIQ. It could have come from an airport. Transit passengers , air crew, horse grooms could all pass it on. Most likely it came through a sea port either on packaging, or as an infected driver. We will probably never know.

    So were we complacent? We stopped testing. Hipkins expressed his frustration that testing numbers were too low for weeks before. The first coolstore case was symptomatic (off work sick) for 9 days before getting tested. He must have seen a doctor. Why did the doctor not refer him for testing a week earlier – then the cluster would be much smaller.

    But were the people complaining any better? Did the reporters scan QR codes? Tell people to get tested? No instead they just reported Browlee's conspiracy theories.

    If we get back to level 1 then we have to be more vigilant.

    We don’t want Trump to be right.

  10. Red 10

    Agree Drowsy 100pc, however would also argue what is the best policy and response from a total cost point of view, Heath, society, economics etc will really only be determined in 5 years time looking back. We are lucky in present terms but what will our county look like in 5 years time visa vie others, this is the time then to have debate what was the best response and weigh up the value of each. ;NZ has chosen it’s course, we have to accept and work with it and hopefully it works out

  11. Corey Humm 11

    Trump is clearly still seething that NZ didn't give him the green light for his hotel way back when, I also think NZ being held up as a model for covid recovery and all the "women leaders handle covid better than male leaders" posts by liberal ish media stuck in his craw, so he now gets to attack a female leader, a country that said no and the extermination strategy all in one go while he tries to distract from his own election.

    ALSO… We have an election coming up and he knows it "I heard people were really angry when you were elected" is what he said when he met Ardern, in the UK election he kept making statements attacking Corbyn and saying he wouldn't want the NHS in a trade deal, he did the same thing in the Australian election and he kept attacking Trudeau during the Canadian election, all three those right wing parties won (Trudeaus liberals got less votes but more seats that the Tory's and absolutely thumped into minority status) I wonder if he'll keep attacking the nz NZ govt during ours and if so what the result would be, most Nats in the cities hate Trump and NZ loves talking crap about the Yanks so I reckon it helps the left everytime he opens his mouth but on the other hand we've never had a foreign leader openly dump on our leaders during an election and the media loves it when nz is mentioned so will report about it non-stop what will be interesting will be to see nats response as most nats in the cities despise trump and most hate the Republicans, I'd wager everytime he opens his mouth labour goes up in the polls and if Judith doesn't push back against him the media will make a big deal out of her not doing so

    One thing I've wondered in the last couple not days…. Imagine what Piggy Muldoon would have to say about his attacks on nz. "Don't you look me in the eye you're just an oompa loompa slumlord "

  12. I Feel Love 12

    #nzhelhole trending on Twitter…

  13. David mac 13

    For the US to have the same 'Explosion of cases' as NZ, 2 days ago they would of needed 1452 new cases, they reported 50,000.

    They have 4% of the world's population and 25% of the active Covid-19 cases.

    I think they've screwed up because the United States haven't been. A lack of unity has led to the cluster fornication. The US need a President, not Mr Responsibility Teflon someone capable of mustering their team of 330 million.

    • Stuart Munro 13.1

      Dead right – if che gelida malina really knew the art of the deal, he'd've hired our team, or Taiwan's by now.

  14. RedBaronCV 14

    but the silver lining is

    -trump will never come here.

    -with any luck he will discourage bolt hole republicans who want to come here after they have messed in their own country

    • Jum 14.1

      I thought that was why he was trying to discredit NZ. He wants the greed to stay in US. I don’t want them here either.

  15. joe90 15

    Entire nation in contention for 2021 Darwins.

    BROOKFIELD, Wis. — The Elmbrook School District will reopen five days a week to in-person learning. The decision came after three and a half hours of discussions by school board members.

    Along with returning to in-person learning, the board also made a decision on requiring students to wear masks. However, not everyone liked that idea.

    “Six-foot distance and wearing masks are pagan rituals of satanic worshipers,” said parent Heidi Anderson. “My kids are Christian they are not subject to wearing masks

    https://www.tmj4.com/news/local-news/elmbrook-schools-decide-to-return-to-in-person-learning-5-days-a-week

    • Wensleydale 15.1

      If Heidi Anderson was any more stupid, she'd be some sort of root vegetable. I feel genuinely sorry for her children.

  16. Enough is Enough 16

    "Aotearoean" Is that a word?

  17. Enough is Enough 17

    What we have learned over the past couple of weeks is there were some things not happening as perfectly as they could be. Regular testing of front line staff being the obvious one.

    You will recall in June, the two sisters who drove around the country with covid had been released from isolation early on compassionate grounds without ever having had a covid test. We got lucky there as they didn't spread.

    The public outrage and strong criticism of the MoH and the government after both of those events has resulted in an improved border. We are learning all the time.

    I think it is extremely silly to say take the politics out of this. The tough questioning (although at times misdirected by the Nats) is vitally important in these times. Yes they are wanting to embarrass the government, but at times it seems like the government is failing to ask those same questions of the ministry. None of us are ever going to vote National, but we need them in there questioning and even challenging everything the government does in these very difficult days to stress test and really strive for that perfection we all want.

    • Rosemary McDonald 17.1

      …but at times it seems like the government is failing to ask those same questions of the ministry.

      Nail hit squarely on head.

      Methinks, perhaps, those days are just about done. There has been a change in the tones of our elected representatives (especially the PM) when discussing things Ministry of Health.

      Tiny wee grain of hope that this dysfunctional ministry, that has enjoyed a free reign for so many years at the expense of the most vulnerable, is going to be roped in and made to enact government policy. Actually perform in the way we, the voters, have democratically decided on the back of promises of policies specified in manifestos.

      The entrenched bureaucracy might have to be culled.

  18. Observer Tokoroa 18

    Michael Morrah at work

    – among other things journalist Michael Morrah has enjoyed carving up the truly impressive Dr Bloomfield.

    Thereby roughing up his own reputation.

    I take it that he does not ever drag any of his Herald colleagues through dirt.

  19. PsyclingLeft.Always 19

    Americans lead surge of Bolt Hole seekers….

    "The policy is set up to encourage the human capital to come into the country – people who've got business experience, who know how to make money and how to share the wealth," he said. "And those are the sorts of people I think we need to continue encouraging, especially when we're moving into what appeared to be recessionary times.

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/424375/covid-19-number-of-investor-visa-applications-soar-since-outbreak

    "How to share the wealth"…Really? Again , not sure if its in their DNA…

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