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Pandemic: a flourishing enterprise. Business needs to get real.

Written By: - Date published: 9:49 am, July 28th, 2020 - 40 comments
Categories: australian politics, covid-19, Economy, health, International - Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Earlier this month, I saw a Reuters article that had the snag paragraphs (my bold). That was written on July 17th and based on stats up to July 13th.

(Reuters) – Global coronavirus infections passed 14 million on Friday, according to a Reuters tally, marking the first time there has been a surge of 1 million cases in under 100 hours.

The first case was reported in China in early January and it took three months to reach 1 million cases. It has taken just four days to climb to 14 million cases from 13 million recorded on July 13.

Reuters: “For first time, world records one million coronavirus cases in 100 hours: Reuters tally

What it does point to for NZ is that we can’t open our borders any time soon. The world outside NZ has a active and escalating pandemic. We’re having problems containing just the small volumes of returning kiwis to the point that we’re having to ration places in hotels – let alone confine the self-righteous idiots who can’t wait.

Personally I have no sympathy for any of these dangerous fools. Please judges – just throw the book at them and jail them as an example. If anyone dies from their exploits – charge them with murder or even manslaughter.

There is no way that we could contain the tourists, overseas students, part-time workers, immigrants, or even Covid-19 refugees that would want to come here or to go through quarantine. We don’t have the places, the guards,

Now we are at over 16 million confirmed cases world wide. The confirmed cases and the confirmed deaths have been drastically under reported. North Korea being a prime example. They are claiming their first Covid-19 case yesterday – a re-defector climbing back into North Korea from South Korea.

There is almost a sport amongst journalists these days having a morbid look at ‘excess’ deaths by countries, regions, and even cities. Even places with transparent and good medical systems like Canada have pieces like this.

Nearly 3,000 more bodies than usual were cremated in Ontario during the height of the first wave of COVID-19, according to coroner’s office data that provide the first glimpse into how the pandemic has affected overall mortality in Canada’s most populous province.

Ontario coroners authorized 2,941 more cremations in April and May of this year than they did, on average, during the same months in the previous three years. Of those additional cremations, about half – 1,460 – were recorded as COVID-19 deaths, according to the Office of the Chief Coroner.

The rest of the extra cremations could reflect the underreporting of coronavirus deaths, an increase in deaths among people who couldn’t access medical care during the lockdown and a preference for cremation at a time when funerals were curtailed, said Dirk Huyer, Ontario’s chief coroner.

The Globe and Mail: “Spike in Ontario cremations could reflect underreporting of COVID-19 deaths

I have no idea of the scale of this worldwide, but I’d suspect the reporting of confirmed cases being no more than half of the actual cases. Even in NZ we current have a cumulative total of 1206 confirmed cases, and 350 probable cases. We’re not war torn Somalia, a country of around 15.4 million with less than 100 confirmed cases – where gravediggers are reporting that cemeteries are filling up fast in recent months. Nor are we the United States where the chaotic health system has often been getting covid-19 test results in more time than is required to quarantine.

Cris Julian and son Ethan emerged Friday from their two-week coronavirus quarantines in New London, Iowa.

It took less time to wait it out than it did to get their results back. As of Friday night, they were still waiting. 

Youngest son Alexander was tested at the same time but got his positive test results back within 48 hours. He was exposed by another student during an open gym workout at his school. Because the state lab was closed July 3, Julian’s doctor’s office sent the tests to Quest Diagnostics.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said COVID-19’s incubation period is up to 14 days, so Julian said that means her test is “worthless now.” 

“We will never stop the spread if we can’t get reliable and timely results,” Julian said.

USA Today: “‘States duking it out for supply’: Lack of federal plan leads to coronavirus testing delays

Because many of the test results being returned are not timely, doctors and people who are concerned enough to get tests will often not quarantine when they should. This makes them probable spreaders if they go out to work or in public. This is one of the many causes of flaring of the pandemic in the USA at present.

But if you really don’t want more bad news about Covid-19, then don’t look at the graphs of the confirmed cases and confirmed deaths. Because they’re still rising fast world wide. I took these graphs from the WHO site this morning. It looks as though world wide, we’re finally getting a handle on how to prevent quite so many people dying from Covid-19. However no real handle on how to prevent people from getting infected.

WHO Covid-19 weekly count

And if you think that is bad, then the cumulative growth in confirmed cases is showing a classic exponential curve – in the early phases. At present, there is no indication that the rise will not increase in its infection rate worldwide.

WHO Covid-19 cumulative count by week

That 2 week period that is required to be sure that someone doesn’t have the disease is a real problem. The only effective way of dealing with it without having significiant numbers of casualties has been to have rigid lock downs to suppress the disease spread and stiff rigid borders.

Pretty much what we, and many of Aussie states did. In our case we controlled our borders better than Aussie states now being reinfected from Victoria did. But in Victoria, the cases haven’t been dropping even in the areas in lock down. If you want control Covid-19, then dithering politically simply isn’t a good idea. It is better to have a short sharp control and then to maintain it strongly. And Victoria shows this clearly. After foolishly allowing the spread of Covid-19 from quarantined travellers, they have lock down fatigue issues on a second pass at it.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says “far too many people” are going to work while sick, instead of getting tested and staying home while waiting for a result, labelling it “the biggest driver” of coronavirus transmission in the state.

The problem has been particularly prevalent in aged care, the Premier says.

Julie Leask, a social scientist who specialises in risk communication and nursing at the University of Sydney, says this reluctance to call in sick is largely linked to how financially stable people feel.

“For example, for casual workers …isolation after a test could mean no work, less chance you will get a shift in future, and considerable financial stress. In that situation, it’s easy to rationalise a scratchy throat as just being a bit of a cold,” she says.

Professor Leask says casualisation and presenteeism — working while ill — was already a problem in the health industry so we couldn’t expect it to be resolved overnight.

ABC: “Coronavirus cases aren’t coming down despite Victoria’s lockdowns. Experts seek to explain why

While there is some good news with potential vaccines entering Phase 3 testing in various high Covid-19 infection locations world wide, none of them are likely to be entering widespread production and release until mid next year.

The world’s biggest COVID-19 vaccine study got underway Monday with the first of 30,000 planned volunteers helping to test shots created by the U.S. government ― one of several candidates in the final stretch of the global vaccine race.

There’s still no guarantee that the experimental vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., will really protect.

The needed proof: Volunteers won’t know if they’re getting the real shot or a dummy version. After two doses, scientists will closely track which group experiences more infections as they go about their daily routines, especially in areas where the virus still is spreading unchecked.

“Unfortunately for the United States of America, we have plenty of infections right now” to get that answer, NIH’s Dr. Anthony Fauci recently told The Associated Press.

Several other vaccines made by China and by Britain’s Oxford University earlier this month began smaller final-stage tests in Brazil and other hard-hit countries.

But the U.S. requires its own tests of any vaccine that might be used in the country and has set a high bar: Every month through fall, the government-funded COVID-19 Prevention Network will roll out a new study of a leading candidate ― each one with 30,000 newly recruited volunteers.

HuffPost: “Massive Coronavirus Vaccine Study Gets Underway In U.S.

While the activity on the vaccines is incredibly fast by historical comparisons, the time scales are immense compared to the rate that the pandemic is escalating.

It takes a month just to get participants details, medical profile, test them and to inject them. It will take several months to run both the sample and the placebo groups through their lives to allow enough of them to be exposed to the virus and get a statistically valid sample. Analysing the data may take months both for the developers and for the regulatory bodies. And then if all goes well, it usually takes at least half a year to get production difficulties at scale dealt with.

If there is a viable and effective vaccine to be had (and there are still questions about that), then it will be found. It won’t take the 4 years of the previous record for a developing a new vaccine – the mumps vaccine back in 1967.

In the meantime, new treatments will be tested to reduce the death rate. But they won’t stop the spread of the disease, and probably won’t reduce the death rate much in those most vulnerable to getting severe symptoms.

All of the lobbyists in NZ who are currently producing puff material for journalists to republish on behalf of the clients can get stuffed. It may be of benefit for their clients and their employees. However it is not in the interests of the bulk of NZ citizens.

For instance, I can’t see any reason to bring in overseas students before we have a viable vaccination. The risk levels are simply too high.

Universities New Zealand chair Derek McCormack said talks with the government were going well until returning New Zealanders breached their isolation recently.

“The universities have got good ideas and we’re in a position where we need to wait on government to engage with us on what the regulations would be to satisfy everybody that it would be safe to bring in international students.”

McCormack said universities will need public trust before they can bring foreign students into the country.

But he said overseas students pose less risk than returning New Zealanders because they can be chosen from countries with few Covid-19 cases and will be deported if they break quarantine.

Foreign students are worth more than $5 billion a year to the economy and universities say they are getting more inquiries than usual from students wanting to study in in this country.

RNZ: “Universities want detail on student quarantine requirements

It costs taxpayers billions per week to have lock downs. A single spreader could cause that, and deporting someone after they break quarantine is completely ineffectual. We’d be relying on luck that we’d be able to trace all of the contacts and to keep a outbreak contained.

What Victoria and the US have shown is that reimposing lock downs is far harder and less effective than not having problems in the first place. So this fatuous set of statements by McCormack is completely stupid. Perhaps if we imposed the full cost per instance of a breakout from quarantine on the universities (or other interested lobbyists), then they’d start to look at the actual cost / benefit ratios with a better attitude.

The same applies to tourists, seasonal workers, travel companies and all of the other lobbyists waffling out there then they will get the point as well.

Companies and organisations need to plan on vaccines arriving to NZ and in the countries that send people to NZ, at the earliest, in the second part of next year. That assumes that one of the vaccines undergoing phase 3 trials in the rest of this year provides an effective t-cell or antibody response.

In the meantime, we’re likely to use all of the available quarantine capacity for returning kiwis and for the other essential business that can’t do something remotely and need to send people offshore. It appears to be hard enough to contain them – and they have a stake in not bringing Covid-19 to NZ.

While the affected business models will suffer, it is less expensive for the country to support them as they scale back their businesses or shut them down. Support will be there for that from the rest of NZ, but there won’t be any widespread support for putting us at risk by opening our borders for their benefit.

40 comments on “Pandemic: a flourishing enterprise. Business needs to get real. ”

  1. Barfly 1

    yes yes yes

    Spot on opening borders at this point would be sheer madness!

    • AB 1.1

      "Support will be there for that from the rest of NZ, but there won’t be any widespread support for putting us at risk by opening our borders for their benefit."

      lprent nails it right there. Self-interest has to be suspended for the collective good, and we will collectively tide-over anybody too badly affected by that fact.

  2. JohnSelway 2

    Unfortunately I have loved one, a dearly loved one, stuck outside NZ borders and it is a really bitter pill to swallow…

    • lprent 2.1

      It is a problem and it will take a while to get everyone home who wants to. The international flights are slowly resuming. But they’re still trying to increase capacity on the quarantine, with limits from NIMBYs and raising the capacity to guard the fools who want to get out of quarantine early.

      Personally I’m just glad I got back from a business trip to the UK in December and didn’t head away again in February.

      • greywarshark 2.1.1

        It's hard for people out of jobs, and trying to match visas, flight times and connections on different days, and borders opening and closing overseas at random. Life like being a concertina player!

        Here's some Irish concertina music. This player Tim Hill really knows his Irish.
        (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2M8P97N0Is

        This lovely woman gives tuition.
        (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=axi6TrtNd_4

        Perhaps people could learn while they wait at airports. Result could be that you would be put on first flight out. But then perhaps you might just get thrown out. So better not.

  3. There is every indication that Covid-19 will become endemic, just like influenza.

    And don't hold your breath for a vaccine – that will probably never eventuate. Not 100% effective, at least.

    But the world is getting better at understanding this scourge and how to treat it. Soon we will find a good combination of drugs which, if applied early, will mitigate the disease.

    Ultimately, we may just have to learn to live with this problem.

    • lprent 3.1

      Treatments yes. Endemic yes. Living with it yes. The real trick if they don't get a vaccine will be to trickle the disease in over a few years.

      This best indications that I can see are that they're get a vaccine into widespread production, but it will only have a limited time of effectiveness. 2-3 years maybe. But that will be hugely expensive because you'd have to provide capacity for medical support for the worst cases beforehand. The better the treatments are, the easier that gets. So the later we leave it the better off and less expensive it will be.

      If they get a vaccine, then vaccinate the bulk of the population – which will take a while, then open up again.

  4. Tricledrown 4

    We have had continuous calls from National and business leaders from the beginning of lockdown to open our borders by July for overseas students or from Australia who were doing alright until only 1 or 2 idiots broke quarantine.

    That;s all it takes we are just going to have to tough it out the new norm will be that we are going to be worse off for the first time since WW2.

    Govt needs to help reprioritise the economy train locals to fill up Universities ,polytechs teacher training etc.

    Build more houses fix bottlenecks in the economy.

    Online business has a massive potential especially the likes of game development.

    This will be the new reality until a vaccine is very widely available .Health research another area with huge potential.

    Austerity will lead to huge damage to our economy National have the dog swagger ACT barking mad at its heels Seymour the career Party grovellar only understands how to get paid for being a complete idiot who keeps pumping out failed economic policies while trying to appeal to the far right and conspiracy theorists is wagging Nationals tail.

    More as National support declines.

    We will have to go back to what happened in the 1930s print money to keep our internal economy afloat.

    But only for productive purposes ie education,housing,agricultural productivity improvements,transport,and a massive boost to our health system which would have failed had Covid got out of Control.

    Judarth Collins said in her maiden speech we have a World class health system is that why we were 30th equal to the US in lack of health infrastructure to cope with Covid at the bottom of the OECD.

    Years of cuts the sinking lid firefighting mentality by National when health costs inflate at 7% plus while only funding increases of 1% under the National less than inflation less the 20% population growth.

    Massive cuts employing immigrants at lower wages .

    This should be reset of the NZ economy to cope with the massive changes that we will have to make to stay Covid free.

    • Stuart Munro 4.1

      Online business has a massive potential especially the likes of game development.

      It does – but the competition is fierce. Although we have generated success stories like Grinding Gear Games, we are underepresented in the market. A good task for a clued-up minister to take on.

  5. "Business needs to get real"….with a picture of a University.

    There's the problem right there..certain so called 'businesses' should be re Nationalised..fully funded..if the UK Tories can re Nationalise the railways, after months of warning the voter that Corbyns railway plans would be disastrous..then surely our progressive NZ Labour 're Nationalise' the Universities..at the very least for the duration

    (On my facebook this piece was accompanied with a photo of the Old Arts Building…)

    • lprent 5.1

      I was having this discussion with my partner this morning after I wrote this.

      Auckland University (that is their clock tower in the photo), has been effectively transformed into a business dependent on overseas students.

      In 2019, they had 8,678 overseas students out of about 34,500 – close to a third. They had costs of ~$1.2 billion and a revenue that looks slight higher. Just under a quarter of their revenue was (probably) from overseas students.

      If you look at page 45 of their annual report, you'll see the financial breakdown.

      I haven't looked through the report for more than a glance and I couldn't see a breakdown of tuition fees by local vs overseas students. However there is some material about the compulsory tuition fee that local student have to pay further up. It looks minimal compared to the tuition fees. Even the direct subsidy (presumably for local students) is only about a quarter larger than the tuition fees revenue.

      The reason for this is obvious. Successive governments, especially National ones, have been skimping on the support for local students for decades while the number of local students has risen and the percentage of the population gets tertiary education.

      To my MBA educated eye, the Auckland University looks just like a business, and one that is highly exposed to the business risks of disruptions to international travel.

      Not to mention the numbers of private colleges and schools around that have very high numbers of overseas. And the high schools etc.

      McCormack describes the sector as having a total revenue of $5 billion. It sounds a bit inflated. But effectively it is drastically diminished without air travel. Same as incoming overseas tourism.

      If you look at the budget for Auckland University, you'll see an awful lot of fixed plant as well as staff in there that can't easily be changed on a dime. Unlike the UK Rail, it isn't just a matter of picking up a smallish deficit relative to the revenue. It is picking up a *lot* of deficit and a significiant level of rather gross restructuring.

      Personally, I'm not that sure that the government should be used as the bank of the universities – right now they have more important things to do than going through the exercise of restructuring something that is so malformed financially. Auckland University should have never taken on the level of risk that they have – that is so dependent on a single point of failure.

      I don't know of many large businesses who would have without taking out quite a lot of contingency planning to limit the risk. Which is why I picked them as an exemplar.

      The tourism sector businesses have been rapidly restructuring. I'm less sure about the overseas education industry.

      • woodart 5.1.1

        it may be a stupid question, why isnt the education business pivoting quickly to educating online ? having to move humans around the world to do things that can be done quicker,cheaper and more efficiently online, seems so last millenium.

        • Sabine 5.1.1.1

          they pivoted during lockdown, level three and two.

          just in case you missed that.

        • McFlock 5.1.1.2

          "Online only" has been the wet dream of educational institutions for decades. It would be so much cheaper than having lecture theatres and tutorial rooms.

          But the fuzzy stuff about education doesn't go well online. And then the assessment is also not so hot – there are ways to game the system.

          Online tool are excellent for some aspects of teaching and learning, but detecting when students just aren't getting it – and teaching them – isn't as effective as being there.

          There are already too many students who battle through a degree without having the basic vibe of the discipline they studied. They can do technically-defined problems in a sterile environment, but have no idea when seeing the same issues in the real world.

          • woodart 5.1.1.2.1

            so, those of us who want to learn something, find a Utube video, watch a couple of times, then go out, practise , and teach ourselves, without having our pockets picked and out hands held ,are doing it all wrong? well ,there goes my do it yourself brain surgery. guess I will go back to rocket science(yes, you can learn rocket science from Utube).

            • McFlock 5.1.1.2.1.1

              Some can. Others can pick up just enough knowledge to blow themselves up, because they missed a fundemental principle and no teacher was there, fully engaged, to pick that up.

              I do a lot of learning about a couple of crafts from youtube. Been doing them for ten years or more. But those are hobbies, and neither my livelihood nor my life depend on that training. I can make some nice things. But I also know what real training for those crafts can involve, and I know I'm not anywhere near the level of a journeyman in those fields.

              It's fun to learn when nobody's life depends on it. But Dr Google as primary care physician has likely killed as many patients as saved.

          • Rosemary McDonald 5.1.1.2.2

            Some very interesting korero on Natrad re tertiary on- line learning…this one featuring Nat MP Nicola Willis, going out to bat for those students seeking the fuzzies of face to face education. Ironic, because wasn't it the Nats who had an agenda to cut down on the 'wasted' acreage associated with universities and poly techs?

            https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/419722/victoria-uni-faces-call-for-students-to-be-compensated-over-continued-online-learning

            There was talk back when they were downsizing AUT in 2016 (https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11620635) that one very real possible outcome of more online learning would be the effective destruction of the 'student body'…and the stifling student political activity.

        • lprent 5.1.1.3

          it may be a stupid question, why isnt the education business pivoting quickly to educating online ? having to move humans around the world to do things that can be done quicker,cheaper and more efficiently online, seems so last millenium.

          The most basic reason is that it is very expensive and very front-loaded to develop online course material. It be in the order of 10x-100x harder to develop online course material than it is to have a few slides and a lecturer. You then need to monitor the material to fine tune it.

          Of course once you have the material working, then it is a lot easier to modify over time. Right up until you decide to change the course.

          But once created usually the running costs are pretty low

          After that you get into issues about having server farms, backup systems, etc.

          Online enrolment systems aren't cheap either, and notoriously hard to get right.

          None of it is hard to do. It is pretty hard to do right and very hard to do during a pandemic.

      • Dennis Frank 5.1.2

        That's an interesting angle. Raises the question of bankruptcy from lack of turnover, eh? I presume the uni is somehow protected though – residual effect of originating as a non-business – but I wonder how. Is a govt bail-out likely?

        If their governance bodies have genuine business expertise incorporated, then we'd expect operational costs to be trimmed as the number of foreign students drops. Is there any other way of achieving that other than shedding operational staff. Will professors have to walk the plank?

      • Graeme 5.1.3

        To my MBA educated eye, the Auckland University looks just like a business, and one that is highly exposed to the business risks of disruptions to international travel.

        Pretty hard to argue with that. So where was the business planing around risks to the business and insurance or other mitigation of that risk? Certainly not hard questions to ask, especially for an organisation with that intellectual grunt.

        Or did the management ask the questions, didn't like the answers and expected to be bailed out. Would be interesting to see how the senior management employment contracts were incentivised.

        • lprent 5.1.3.1

          So where was the business planing around risks to the business and insurance or other mitigation of that risk?

          That was essentially what I was saying to my partner.

          It is also why I am less worried about the larger players in the tourism industry.

          • Graeme 5.1.3.1.1

            You can understand it in tourism, the game is all marketing, so players start to believe their own bullshit. But universities, come on….

            But yeah, most of the bigger players in tourism will be ok, tourism does this and they are generally ready for it. There's a couple that might be a bit exposed but also expect them to make it through with a few bruises.

            Mid level, and especially newer operations, I'm not so sure about. They tend to be seduced by the bright lights.

      • Lettuce 5.1.4

        I won't be shedding any tears for Auckland University. They seem to have plenty of money to spare when they choose to:

        https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/119122778/auckland-university-buys-5m-parnell-mansion-for-incoming-vicechancellor

  6. Ad 6

    Reluctantly agree LP.

    Incredible surges.

    WHO warnings are so dark now.

    • lprent 6.1

      It was pretty obvious to me from Feb/March that was what we could expect – exponential slow growth in populations with 'sudden' surges. My musing from the start have been somewhat darker than the WHO – who after all are still mostly politicians who don't want to scare the horses too much.

      Damn thing is a high population density endemic that is partially adapted to humans. It is a stealth virus for human populations. It will outbreak wide into populations whenever conditions are right and it will do it nearly silently and show up as a outbreak well after it has already happened. Most of the time our disease control systems will only catch it well after it has already re-established itself into a population.

      We just got lucky that we closed up so early. Also that our export economy isn't that dependent on overseas travel. Our internal economy will have a bit of tortuous reshuffle over the next year or two. Hopefully it will settle into something that is a little less risky than relying on air-travel.

  7. Gabby 7

    To prove that their overseas student enterprise isn't just clipping the ticket on cheap imported labour and backdoor ctizenship, maybe the vicechancellor could explore opening a campus or two in the target countries.

    • AB 7.1

      Heh. It's selling residency under the guise of education (most of the students I see already have superior degrees to the Diplomas they get here), price-gouging the students’ families, passing a highly vulnerable and therefore docile workforce on to exploitative employers (sometimes from the same country as the student), and externalising the infrastructure costs of high immigration onto taxpayers and ratepayers. A truly elegant example of "accumulation through dispossession"- rather than through producing anything useful. The very definition of ‘privilege’ is to be able to get yourself into a position when you can run such schemes.

      • RedBaronCV 7.1.1

        Yep and they can start by repurposing salaries and perks of the top layer – that will plug a lot of the holes. Push some of the accommodation into flats – some of the hotels have.

        Then further down offer up and coming staff permanent doable jobs that are a mix of teaching and research – let the various staff bid for the research hours according to their interests at the time. Government could be happy to fund some of the research with the appropriate controls. The research, if good, ups rankings and then can charge large sums for for genuine top quality post grad students if so inclined. We want to be McGill not the warehouse

        Train locals and for heavens sake have understandable lecturers. heavy accents take more than a few lectures to get used to them.

        • Lettuce 7.1.1.1

          Hiring understandable lecturers would cost more money meaning the universities would have less to pay the Vice-Chancellor's KPI bonus. Therefore, not going to happen.

  8. Sabine 8

    the only ones currently putting us at risk are returning kiwis who can not abide by their tax payer funded stay in some rather nice hotels to quarantine.

    maybe that is our problem, we should bring people in that a. would happily pay for the quarantine, and b. would happily abide by the rules cause……Covid Free.

    • woodart 8.1

      are these the same students, who when caught breaking laws, do the sergeant shultz shuffle? sounds like another, privatize the profits, socialise the loses ,routine.

  9. millsy 9

    Our education providers should stop bitching about how they cannot bring in international students, and start focusing on educated NEW ZEALANDERS. Which is what they were built for in the first place.

  10. RedBaronCV 10

    And some idiot at WHO should stick to their knitting – trade and work are possible with a closed border, the only affected industries we have are tourism and the overseas education visa scam market. When the numbers come in over time I'm picking that we may find some very real economic benefits from smaller border traffic.

    And WHO’s executive director of the health emergencies programme, Dr Mike Ryan, said on Monday that international travel bans aren’t sustainable in the long term.

    “It’s going to be almost impossible for individual countries to keep their borders shut for the foreseeable future,” he said.

    “Economies have to open up, people have to work, trade has to resume.

    “We do believe that it is possible to identify and minimise the risk associated with international travel.”

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/122265072/coronavirus-who-director-general-says-new-zealands-apt-covid19-response-prevented-a-largescale-outbreak

    • Gabby 10.1

      I guess he must mean the people trade.

    • lprent 10.2

      When the numbers come in over time I'm picking that we may find some very real economic benefits from smaller border traffic.

      Sure – however I suspect that Dr Ryan was referring mostly to the business travel. It is a pretty essential part of travel market. There is only so much that can be done with zoom.

      As an example – over the last 4 years, I've averaged about a quarter of each year working as an software engineer in other countries delivering bespoke systems that I've written the code for to customers. The code that I write comes in large > 40kg and little hand held boxes – all connected with large complex wide area networks.

      It is really hard to deliver systems and get them up and working without hooking them into the systems on the ground. Training people to use those systems is almost impossible without doing hands-on.

      And I’m just the end of the chain. There are other people who go to the clients and determine what they need, fight their way to get contracts signed. And get the programmes delivered.

      Even amongst the authors at The Standard, I’m not alone with this kind of task. One of our former authors used to (and probably still does) spend a lot of time delivering installations world wide. Completely different industry. Same essential set of tasks. Virtual worldwide market niches employ a hell of a lot of people in NZ. And even more indirectly.

      There is a limit to how little long term we can travel and still fulfil the needs of customers.

  11. barry 11

    It is (as usual) instructive to see what is happening in China. They showed the world how to control the disease, but they also showed that it is impossible to keep it from popping up occasionally.

    I also am skeptical about the vaccines being tested. The level of side effects in healthy volunteers are a concern. It is likely that in the population as a whole the overall damage from side effects will rival the damage from natural infection. Of course this will abate as more development produces safer vaccines, but NZ will not want to be first (or even second) in line.

    So the answer is, do whatever is required to keep it out, and aggressively control any outbreaks. China has less damage to its economy than most other places, in spite of lockdown and travel bans.

  12. EE 12

    I would like to know how health insurance would work with foreign students

  13. georgecom 13

    I was listening to a discussion on the radio about foreign students being allowed back into NZ perhaps by the start of next year. My own views run along these lines – if the institution importing the students can set up appropriate quarantine facilities (be it hotels or students dorms or whatever) which are self funded and can guarantee public safety to the same level as the govt sponsored facilities then I would be reasonably ok with a rationed return of overseas students. Some appropriate and fairly robust criteria established and the institutions apply for the ability to import students.

    As for foreign workers on various types of fixed term visas. My views may be a little tough however things have dramatically changed. For those on super essential skilled lists yes, welcome them. Those who are not super essential workers sorry but you are probably not going to be able to return. When your visa expires its time to return home. If you cannot make it back to NZ before the visa expires, sorry, but you will either need to be on that super essential list to come back. As an example, and it's not representative on many situations I acknowledge, a business management student working in a suburban bottle shop is not an essential worker and there is not a labour shortage there we need to fill with foreign workers.

  14. FWE 14

    An excellent programme on the ABC “QandA” on U-Tube last night about reopening the boarders, a must see for all National party MPs & any others in NZ who think that it will be easy to control.

    The programme also illustrates the vast difference between what we are dished up by TVNZ Current affairs & what the Aussie’s get, ours is similar to a visual fluff rubbish on a par with what you see in the Women’s Weekly or No Idea, most of it is brain dead rubbish.

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