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Open mike 11/01/2021

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, January 11th, 2021 - 55 comments
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55 comments on “Open mike 11/01/2021 ”

  1. Rosemary McDonald 1

    BAU @ the MOH.


    Nurses working at managed isolation facilities across the country have raised concerns about staff shortages and instability.

    .. The ministry said the matters have been addressed – but many health care professionals working at border facilities disagree.

    In a peculiarly bizarre way this is somewhat comforting.

    When entropy reigns supreme, and it seems there is nothing and no one who can be trusted there's our systemically dysfunctional Ministry of Health reliably doing what we all know they do best.

    Denying, minimising, dismissing and generally disrespecting those at the front line and at the coal face.

    In a statement to RNZ, the ministry confirmed all matters identified in the audit had been followed up and addressed.

    But that is rejected by two of the country's largest nursing unions, which have hundreds of members working in MIQ facilities.

    • Sabine 1.1

      oh well if only we had a caring and gentle government that has a clear majority to get stuff done.

      The problem is not the 'Ministry' the problem is the government. And it seems that the Labour Government is even less inclined to work for their wages then the National Goverment.

      I spoke with a nurse a few month back who laughingly stated that the new ventilators had arrived in the country – thanks god – now if we could just train and hire and pay the nurses to man and monitor these ventilators.

      Surely any day now – any day now, our Labor overlords are gonna do something about something. I can see someone write an article about how all this time was squandered by people who yet don't suffer the consequences of their actions.

    • Treetop 1.2

      It will only take one slip up for the highly infectious strains to enter the community.

      I would go to a 21 day isolation until vaccination is at a high enough level.

      I would trust the judgement of the medical staff working in isolation over the MoH.

      My main concern is having the testing capability to detect a new strain and to know the period of being infectious.

      Now is not the time to ration resources in MIQ. There is only one line of defence and once it is broken the clean up will be immense on many levels.

    • Incognito 1.3

      BAU @ the MOH.

      Except, this isn’t BAU and MoH is not the only Ministry involved in MIQ.

      From your link:

      Dr Sally Roberts is a clinical microbiologist at Auckland District Health Board and an advisor to the Covid-19 taskforce.

      She said everyone was working hard to keep staff and returnees safe – and while facilities were steadily improving, it was important to remember they were newly established entities.

      "Prior to 2020, we didn't have managed isolation quarantine facilities of this nature, and they involve multiple agencies working together who haven't had a working relationship in the past, and the facilities are not designed for managing individuals with infectious diseases, so it's been a big learning curve."

      It is important to keep the pressure on and the nurses unions, epidemiologists, and other experts are doing a good job at that and in sticking up for their members at the same time. However, the RNZ article was more balanced and the situation appears to be less B & W than your comment suggested 🙂

      I think it is important to keep in mind that nobody has the perfect answer/solution/approach and that the situation with Covid is always evolving and changing.

      • Rosemary McDonald 1.3.1

        With respect, Incognito, I assume that folks who visit here are more than capable of reading a linked article in its entirety and form their own opinions.

        Twenty years of having to deal with the Ministry of Health and its agents over disability issues has left me cynical and disillusioned. Health is about people…and unfortunately our Ministry of Health, as a bureaucracy, seems to forget this basic premise.

        The Ministry has form. For years they denied, dismissed and minimised the abuse and neglect of disabled people in MOH funded residential care. Look up the 2013 articles by Kirsty Johnston.

        At the same time the Ministry declared open warfare against those people with significant disabilities and the family members who they had chosen to provide the high level of care they need. Or they had no option (other than the potential horrors of residential care) than to have resident family provide the care…because the Ministry of Health refused to fund the advanced personal cares required.

        Despite the issue of paying family carers having been heard many times in various legal settings over the past two decades (with our side winning with embarrassing monotony) it was only in April last year, and under 'special' Covid conditions, that my partner has been allowed to pay me as his carer. And we have been reminded by the Ministry this is temporary. Goddess forbid we should ever feel secure.

        A quick search on the Natrad webpage and you'll find numerous articles (Many by Catherine Hutton) describing the deep despair of disabled people and their families. Nothing changes for the better because of the culture of the Ministry.

        I spent a while over New Years speaking with a midwife. Again, the good folk at Natrad have also kept track over the years as the midwives have battled to gain some level of respect from the funders… the Miserly of Health.

        And this midwife was using the same language and expressed the same deep despair that we in the MOH disability community have voiced.

        And I'm hearing that same tone from these nurses.

        But this time, with Te Virus scratching at our borders, the risks if the Ministry runs true to form will impact the whole community.

        Not just the disabled. Not just women and babies.

        I make no apologies.

        • Incognito

          You’d be surprised how many people don’t read any further than a headline 😉

          When people read your comment, they may or may not decide to read the linked article, based on your PoV. BTW, this is exactly why tend to insist on links and a brief accompanying commentary as to what to expect and as to why people should read it.

          Your views of MoH are well documented here and you have your reasons.

          I make no apologies for presenting my take on the same article to which you linked. This does not take away anything at all from your personal experiences of and with MoH. It is about presenting another perspective on the content of the article and a number of voices therein, including those of some nurses, not on MoH as such.


  2. Anker 2
    • And yet despite the nurses union bringing this up (and I don’t doubt their concerns, after all who would want to be working at the border), we still have to date no community out break and the times we have it has been very swiftly contained. So time to admit moh doing a lot that is right.

    it is worrying though about the new mutation. Only a matter of time before another outbreak. Trust our health people it manage it, but will likely mean another location

    • Treetop 2.1

      Prior to the more infectious strains the MoH was able to manage Covid – 19. Looking at overseas tends with the newer highly infectious strains I do not have the same level of confidence when it comes to containing a community outbreak.

    • Rosemary McDonald 2.2

      Hypothetical exchange between Senior Management at a MIQ facility and a Senior Level Bureaucrat at the MOH.

      MIQ…."We really need more staff at all levels…."

      MOH…."But you're all doing so well! There's absolutely NO community transmission! It's obvious we've got this! Keep it up team!"

      MIQ…"But we're all so tired. We've all been at this for months. We need to train up many more people so we can have a break. Some at the frontline are so scared of making a mistake because of exhaustion that stress levels are through the roof. Please approve more funding for more staff."

      MOH…. "Look guys…we get this is all very new…but its clear we have hit just the right note here. We don't need to go overboard. All those little niggles that you guys had last October have been dealt to. Look at the paperwork …we have an Action Plan!"

      MIQ…"Please. Please…."

      • Treetop 2.2.1

        I really really hope that when an MIQ worker makes a claim for PTSD or other mental injury that ACC do not piss them about.

        MIQ would be like a war zone for some health workers constantly having to be vigilant would be exhausting.

  3. Treetop 3

    I have not given it much thought as to how safe lab workers are when it comes to processing Covid – 19 samples or contagion in a lab.

    • Andre 3.1

      They're at fairly low risk.

      Their job is working with samples that are presumed to be dangerously pathogenic at all times, not just when there's a pandemic going on. So they've got the mindset, skills and equipment to keep themselves safe.

      • Treetop 3.1.1

        That is reassuring for lab workers. Skills and equipment make the difference.

        • McFlock

          A lot of it would be mindset, like security.

          (Being purposefully vague to protect the guilty) there was fairly recently a non-medical biohazard facility that was close to losing certification because it had a lot of students screwing up the lab's integrity. Things like opening windows when the air is supposed to be filtered before going back outside, or not wearing lab coats so they're taking stuff outside on their street clothes.

          Mind you, seventy years ago people were using potassium cyanide in their spare room or manipulating plutonium cores with screwdrivers instead of the mandated shims, so the mindset has come a long way.

          • Macro

            Mind you, seventy years ago people were using potassium cyanide in their spare room or manipulating plutonium cores with screwdrivers instead of the mandated shims, so the mindset has come a long way.

            And storing radium in a draw in the laboratory. My cousin who worked at the DSIR Physical Engineering Laboratory in Gracefield tells of the time they were doing a clean-up in the late 50's when they opened a draw they seldom used and found at the back a large sample of radium (I've forgotten how many curies were written on it). He initially worked for Sir Ernest Marsden as a lab tech.

          • Drowsy M. Kram

            Bit off topic – a question in a recent quiz in ‘The Listener’ reminded me of the once common enough practice of using X-ray Shoe Fitter, Pedoscope and Foot-o-scope devices in shoe shops.

            The first scientific evaluations of these machines in 1948 immediately sparked concern for radiation protection and electrical safety reasons, and found them ineffective at shoe fitting.

            In 1999, Time placed Shoe-Store X Rays on a list of the 100 worst ideas of the 20th century.


            • McFlock

              Ancestor of the current shoe store quackery machines.

            • gsays

              In kinda related vein, the DDT pump in the pantry, for cockroaches and other pests.

            • RedLogix

              A very bad idea, but oddly enough one that didn't trigger an epidemic of foot cancer either. If there was any radiation harm caused by them, it's buried in the statistical noise.

              Besides that wiki article bases it's case on the now very shakey Linear No Threshold (LNT) thesis originally put up by Muller in 1927. While it may have been a useful idea in the early days of nuclear radiation, being the most conservative model possible and could have been justified as a 'precautionary principle', all the real world data since has strongly suggested that in fact all living creatures are constantly bathed in a background radiation that does us no harm at all.

              Indeed there are a number of cases where people have lived with substantially higher background radiation levels over long periods, and surprisingly show reduced levels of cancer.

              No-one has been able to prove a watertight case either way (nor given the nature of the RCT necessary are they ever likely to), but there are good grounds to think that the LNT thesis is far too conservative and generates perverse outcomes.

              • Drowsy M. Kram

                Agree 100%, "A very bad idea", exploitative even – kinda why I mentioned it.

              • Incognito

                An interesting ‘constellation’ or another ‘Covid-bandwagon’?

                Low-Dose Radiation to COVID-19 Patients to Ease the Disease Course and Reduce the Need of Intensive Care


                • RedLogix

                  That is interesting; how on earth did you stumble on that?

                  You do ask a really worthwhile question; how to tell the difference between a useful result and 'covid bandwagon'. After all a decent RCT trial to put the matter beyond all doubt is simply not going to be available in most cases. Demanding this level of gold standard proof is not always reasonable.

                  A good comparison can be made with the case made against tobacco smoking and lung cancer, that never rested on anything more than historic observation studies and correlations as far as I’m aware. I doubt anyone ever did a full noise RCT on this (although I could always be wrong).

                  As time goes on we continue to learn more about COVID, and we find all manner of interesting aspects like the probable role that Vitamin D, Zinc, and Selenium may play. The jury remains noisily deadlocked on Ivermectin, and I'm sure there a few other plays out there I'm unaware of.

                  One point I need to clarify; it's perfectly possible to be both alarmed at the threat of this disease and at the same time alarmed and disappointed at some of the responses by various medical authorities and governments.

                  More than anything else we need to stop politicising this; it was a catastrophe for the climate change issue, and will play out no better on this.

            • Treetop

              About 40 years ago I got given an asbestos circular mat to put hot pots on. I kept it for about a year.

              Not sure if all asbestos is harmful.

              • Andre

                For all practical purposes, yes, all asbestos is harmful. Your mat was probably made with chrysotile (white asbestos), which is the most common and least hazardous form of asbestos. But that "least hazardous" is kinda like saying ebola is less hazardous than rabies.

                The really dangerous route for it to cause harm is when it get turns into dust and you breathe it in. So your mat for hot pots is lowish risk, unless you were in the habit of banging it against a post at about head level to get dust out of it, like a rug.

                If it's not getting turned into dust, then it's low risk. That's why the advice is if your house has asbestos in the walls or ceiling or roof, don't worry about it unless you disturb it somehow. Like doing renovations, or cleaning an asbestos cement roof. Then you need the $$$$$ expert$$$$$ to come and deal with it.

    • Incognito 3.2

      Nasal/oral swabs don’t exhale, sneeze or cough on the lab workers. The actual sample is stuck in and onto the bud, which is how it has been designed to work. Unless the lab worker licks their gloved fingers, sucks the bud, or sticks the bud up their own nose by accident, the risks of getting infected are slim.

      • Treetop 3.2.1

        Do you know how the nasal oral swabs are destroyed?

        Also the method to clean the lab equipment. Both could cause contamination. I am not sure how long samples used to test for Covid are stored for either.

        • Forget now


          Incinerator and autoclave respectively. In my memory of biological wastes and laboratory equipment. There would likely be a negative pressure gradient in any lab analyzing SARS-CoV2 too, at least you'd hope so!

          • Treetop

            Thanks for that. Lab workers are doing a stellar job and would be putting in long hours.

          • Incognito

            Yup. Liquid waste is treated with special disinfectant. Surfaces are treated with disinfectant too and UV light. All disposable waste is treated as biohazardous medical waste. Much of what is used in the lab is disposable anyway and provided in kits, except the PCR machine 😉

  4. Janet 4


    “Covid 19 coronavirus: Lockdown expected if UK or South African variant found in community.”

    Do we really have to wait until it is in the community to lock down. Economically and socially we would be much better off to lock down NOW. Lock all travellers from countries with high rates of Covid.

    There is 1 in 30 infected with it in England.

    50% of the elderly are dying from it.

    Every 36 hours someone breaks the rules in NZ ‘s quarantine !

    New Zealanders have had 9 MONTHS to get home.

    Time now to take care of NZ especially the people working on our front lines.

    It would be much less economically crushing to stop the travellers till things improve than leave it to a point where the NZ community has to go into Lock Downs again to stop a now very virulent disease.

    Wakeup, time to stop being SO KIND, for Gods sake !

    • Sabine 4.1

      or else let people come back as they are rightfully entitled to and instead increase staff level, testing, and anyone caught breaking quarantine rules is having the book thrown at them, their name and face printed all over the news – yeah, shame these entitled assholes – and thus also prevent the coming in of a new threat and the spread there of.

    • Treetop 4.2

      Do we really have to wait until it is in the community to lock down?

      MIQ transmission is going to happen with the highly infectious strains and when this happens how is it going to be managed for a person on day 12 not in quarantine just isolation?

      The government needs to have the MIQ capacity for this senario. Unprepared will be seen as a failure and National will be all over this.

      • Koff 4.2.1

        Think that the risk is not just due to the variant that leaks out, but who it leaks to. Greater Brisbane has just been locked down for 3 days because of a cleaner at a quarantine hotel was infected with the UK variant, but despite 50,000 tests, no-one else has been detected with it. Maybe that’s because the cleaner lived alone and wasn’t an outgoing, social person or someone with a large family who she spread it to. Compare the fast transmission that happened with the Auckland cluster and the Melbourne one. One of the new variants is probably going to leak more often from now on though as there is an increasing amount of it and not just in the UK or South Africa.

    • Red 4.3

      Stopping people coming in stops the planes coming and likewise restricts a lot of essential imports ( medicines and like,
      ) coming in and perishable exports going out via airfreight, This is further complicated with our sea ports been already congested. Simply moving to air freight charters is cost prohibitive and not feasible in a highly global and connected world The government needs to view all these factors and risks, not simply taking a myopic health view only

      [You’re spouting so much crap here again because you’re full of shit and nothing else.

      Our Government is doing what you accuse it of not doing and more and the irony is that you’re the one with the myopic view.

      Keep it up and you’ll be flying – Incognito]

      • Graeme 4.3.1

        Outgoing flights are pretty much empty passenger wise and incoming aren't much better because of the MIQ limits. Repatriation charters and fishing / merchant crew changes a slight exception.

        As for profit for the airline, I'd say they are loosing money or just cost recovery on the passengers they carry because of the increased per passenger crew costs with the light loadings.

      • Incognito 4.3.2

        See my Moderation note @ 4:08 PM.

      • Stan 4.3.3

        Sorry I'm usually a lurker here but have to bite.

        Red: I assume you are not a health care worker. Have you thought about what would happen if our ICUs become full of the COVID sick? I'm making another assumption about you and I apologise if I'm incorrect but from your posts you sound quite young so I assume when you catch COVID you won't be in a high risk group for complications so won't need to go to hospital.

        But, if you are unlucky enough to, say, be critically injured in a car accident or suffer a stroke then you'll be denied access to hospital as it will be full already.

        "Myopic" this may be, but once our hospitals are full, plenty of those with non-COVID conditions will also die.

    • Incognito 4.4

      Given that the new strain is expected to become dominant globally very quickly, how long do you propose we should lock down “NOW”?


      What do your stats mean? How do they compare to the other older variants, for example? Are you scaremongering?

      Are you suggesting that all New Zealanders who’d want it should have come home by now and that the ones who didn’t have only themselves to blame? It reminds of the bene-bashing ‘reasoning’ by National and ACT. Nice!

      Do you believe there are no social costs to locking down “NOW”?

      What has “being SO KIND” got to do with it? It sounds like a cheap shot to me.

    • RosieLee 4.5


    • Anne 4.6

      "New Zealanders have had 9 MONTHS to get home."

      Have to confess that crossed my mind too. When it was still relatively easy to come back to NZ they didn't do so. Now that the pandemic outbreak has reached emergency levels in the UK they want to come home and expect the welcoming mat to be laid out for them.

      Well, they can come back… when it is safe again and NZ is ready to resume normal services. There will always be exceptions granted for special cases.

      • Incognito 4.6.1

        When it was still relatively easy to come back to NZ they didn't do so.

        I don’t follow Janet or you on this ‘nine month’ issue. MIQ was introduced on 9 April 2020, i.e. nine months ago. It was indeed “relatively easy” to return to NZ before then and many New Zealanders did during that short window. In fact, this was one of the reasons why MIQ was not introduced before 9 April.

        • Anne

          This where I am coming from Incognito:

          I recall the warnings being issued back in February and March that this pandemic was going to be around for a long time and that it will get a lot worse before it gets better. A vaccine was thought to be at least two years away.

          It shouldn't have taken much to conclude that it would be best to get back to NZ as soon as possible… if simply because of our geographical isolation. I was surprised more people didn't take advantage of the "window" while it was available.

          I give my parents as an example. My father was in Germany in the mid 1930s and saw with his own eyes the proliferation of munitions factories and the mood of the nation in general. He returned to England and immediately made plans to take his young family out of Britain to somewhere safe. They went to Australia initially then moved on to NZ two years later. They arrived just before WW2 broke out.

          At the time of their departure, they were laughed at by family and friends back in England but he was the one who had the last laugh.

          I see a similarity between the two situations.

          • Incognito

            Ok, I think I understand you now, thank you. However, that window of opportunity was a little more than one month or so, not nine months, which means that you and I were thinking of different periods.

            • Anne

              Well, I was actually thinking for a longer period – including the start of the mandatory 14 day hotel isolation upon arrival. Over the winter months especially I wouldn't have thought that was too traumatic for most people to handle.

      • weka 4.6.2

        reasons other than self interest for not returning earlier:

        • lack of money
        • job contract
        • fixed term tenancy
        • needed to sell house
        • kids in school
        • poor job prospects in NZ
        • torn between family there and being here

        That last one applies to two of my siblings. I know another family who the job contract applied to.

        It doesn't take much imagination to see that NZers overseas have a range of restrictions on their lives that might prevent them just packing up and coming home.

    • Gabby 4.7

      The precautions are so that we DON'T have to lock down.

  5. Jimmy 5

    This is horrible that a baby has died and someone is obstructing justice / police. Why do they protect these people? Good that the police have arrested the person for providing false information.

    Auckland baby homicide: Woman charged with attempting to obstruct justice | Stuff.co.nz

  6. Grafton Gully 6

    "arborists have inspected the site and made recommendations to undertake work to ensure the vegetation is healthy and safe.

    Most of the work involved trimming shrubs back from footpaths, lights or clothes lines".

    Lovely to walk footpaths overhung and bordered by trees, lights are unnecessary – if you're afraid of the dark carry a torch – it's called "taking responsibility as an individual for personal safety", clothes lines – it's not direct sunlight but the moisture content of the breeze that determines drying time and a bit of bird shit on the sheets is easily scraped off. Arborists are in business to make money so are looking for reasons to trim and remove, and the tidiness ideology that rules suburbia is enabling them. Tidiness is a huge earner in other ways too of course, supported by "health and safety." regulations.

    An untidy, unhealthy and unsafe environment nurtured our human evolution and I owe myself to it – unthinking and ungrateful as others seem to be.


    • Gabby 6.1

      That's why we don't have lightbulbs in the house and the kids have to buy batteries for their torches from their allowances, so they learn to take personal responsibility.

  7. Stuart Munro 7

    the deep-sea fishing industry has struggled to recruit Kiwi workers

    Stuff has been massaging the truth about slave fishermen. There is no struggle – the company applies few a few hundred visas without making any remotely credible attempt to train or retain locals, and Immigration just let it happen, never checking up, just as they have for the last forty years.

    A better description would be "the industry is too lazy and inept to train and retain kiwi workers, and the corrupt government supports and colludes in their law-breaking."

    Nothing to see here – certainly no NZ jobs lost to exploitive practices.

  8. Eco Maori 8

    I know you snakes are up to something let roll in the Court system and see what happens Muppets.

    Ka kite Ano.

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