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The problem with and the benefits of MIQ

Written By: - Date published: 9:04 am, February 1st, 2022 - 93 comments
Categories: chris bishop, chris hipkins, covid-19, health - Tags:

First let’s talk about the benefits.

It may not be apparent from the wall to wall sound emanating from the opposition and from the media but this Government’s Covid response has been exceptionally good and way better than that of pretty well every other major country in the world.  Check out the graph above if you need confirmation.

China has been better but only through the adoption of measures that locals would not tolerate.

MIQ has kept us Covid free for an extended period of time.  Coupled with an exceptionally good vaccine roll out the country is in good shape.  MIQ bought us time, very valuable time.

So far 217,818 people have been through MIQ.  Breaches have been few until Omicron overwhelmed it.

The Government is getting something of a media blitzkrieg from Charlotte Bellis who is conducting her negotiations with MBIE via twitter.  I appreciate her motivation, wanting to be somewhere safe for the birth of her child.  The system is cumbersome and is showing signs of strain.

Infection numbers are ramping ominously and a full on wave, the likes of which New Zealand has not seen before appears to be imminent.

And a decision on MIQ will be made shortly.  A decision was previously planned for last month but the explosion of Omicron numbers in Australia made the Government play for time.

Against this background the opposition continues to seek to score political points at every opportunity and are totally indifferent to the real world problems the Government is facing.  God help us if they were currently in control.  We would be in the same sort of mess that other right led nations such as England and Australia are in.

The Chris Bishop interview on Radio New Zealand this morning showed how cynical National’s approach is.

First up was the statement of position:

We think the time has come to end the misery of human lottery that is MIQ and essentially allow fully vaccinated kiwis in Australia and around the world to return and self isolate without going into MIQ.  That is the critical point.

Susie Ferguson then asked if National would open up the borders “now”.

Bishop replied by contradicting himself and agreeing that it needed to be phased in.  From Radio New Zealand:

There was an argument for phasing in the changes, but the most pressing need was to get New Zealanders in very desperate situations home, from wherever they are in the world.

“A lot of people have been stranded in Australia for a long time now but there’s also people like Charlotte [Bellis and others] who’ve had their visas expired, for example.”

He said the legal obligation and first priority was New Zealand citizens and permanent residents, and April or May would be a reasonable time frame for others, including people moving to New Zealand from other countries

What is it Chris?  Move immediately to abolish MIQ and let returning kiwis isolate at home or phase in the changes and have a hardship category?  His statement that he does not have access to the medical advice shows how much he was spinning this.  Holy talking out of both sides of your mouth.

He was asked if it was the right thing to do to maintain close MIQ in December as National had advocated.  He said that at the time Omicron had not turned up and the delta wave had come to an end.  He ended up by saying that he stood by what National said at the time.

Again this is so cute.  It was inevitable that Omicron would show up at the border, Chris Hipkins publicly confirmed this in early December.  If we had opened up MIQ at the time the Omicron wave would have hit us quicker and been more severe.

Bishop has this habit of watching the way the wind is blowing and then urging the Government to do what it is planning to do and then claiming credit for the Government doing which it was clearly going to do anyway.

Finally to return to the body count.

Cumulatively New Zealand has one death per hundred thousand people.  The Australian figure is 14.6, the UK 232.1 and the US 264.  If we had followed the advice of various English based commentators and matched their results we would have had in the vicinity of 11,500 dead kiwis.

Has MIQ caused extreme stress to kiwis overseas?  Clearly it has.  Has it also served us well in isolating us from the worst effects of Covid and preventing the loss of thousands of kiwi lives as well as the effects of long covid on tens of thousands more?  Yes it has.

These are tough decisions.  Which is why you need a Government that listens to the scientific advice and acts in the public interest.

93 comments on “The problem with and the benefits of MIQ ”

    • lprent 1.1

      He certainly doesn't run any balance about the effect of MIQ on omicron community case growth.

      The more entry cases that come through, the faster the growth in the community cases. It provides more points from which community clusters can start.

      Who in the hell would trust the kinds of irresponsible self-indulgent we hear from the media complaining about MIQ to actually self-isolate. Many of the ones that the media chooses to publicise come across as self-entitled fluff-brains – who don't anticipate and plan for travel problems and then get frustrated by a queue. Who could trust these selfish sods to follow the medical rules about self-isolation?

      Of course this could just be the media focus, and I'm sure that they're out pushing the shouting and shovers who also want to use MIQ queues, and bumping others who anticipate.

      But the reason that MIQ is still in place is to reduce the flow of patient zeros into NZ for as long as possible so that the contact tracing and health systems don't get overwhelmed

      This is while we're processing elderly people through their booster shots at a rapid rapid, and at a slower rate vaccinating children. Plus of course slowly increasing the vaccination rates amongst the >18yo population The more done before we get widespread community spread, the fewer people that die or get damaged by omicron – including the rather stupid unvaccinated who will be most affected by the upcoming epidemic.

      But I agree about Chris Bishop who is clearly a untrustworthy lying hypocrite who simply isn't interested in doing what needs to be done, but is entirely focused on scoring points. Basically another arsehole.

  1. Sanctuary 2

    I am so sick of this MIQ stuff. The meta for me is it is class politics writ large. A bourgeoise civil war being fought in a MSM echo chamber of entitled middle class hysteria over government restrictions on it's right to do as it pleases. It tells us a lot about whose interests the MSM represent and what stories it sees fit to publish. There is no real attempt to present alternatives – the system, we are told, is an example of "inflexible bureaucratic cruelty" that must be reformed to be more "dynamic" and "responsive", a set of demands the middle classes seem reluctant to consider applicable to WINZ, for example. How it can be more responsive or dynamic is open to question, since when they can be stopped whining for five minutes the only suggestion you get it to simply open the borders, ask people to self isolate politely, and otherwise let it rip.

  2. Ad 3

    The science is interesting but the politics is now more important.

    Losing 15% polling points in 6 months says Labour will kill MIQ by the end of Feb at the latest.

    Prime Minister Ardern is as poll-driven as any PM I've seen: there will be no third term with MIQ.

    The hard question once they've killed MIQ is: can Labour recover?

    • riffer 3.1

      Unlikely. The moment case numbers start going up hugely the opposition will be claiming they would have done it different and had no cases at all. The oppositions job is to oppose, and Chris Bishop takes his role extremely literally.

      • Chris 3.1.1

        Luxon's message yesterday was pretty much "our job is to oppose anything Labour says, does or puts up – regardless of what it is – and we will do that".

    • mpledger 3.2

      They better not kill MIQ and I really can't see how they can without blowing up the health care system – which is the health care workforce getting decimated by covid.

      • Ad 3.2.1

        Looks like our health system can handle it.

        I wouldn't have said that if we weren't at 80%+ total population vaccinated and near-30% Boosted.

        It's time for the health system to bear the hit for our human rights.

        (And of course thankyou, in advance, to every health worker)

        • lprent 3.2.1.1

          Maybe. However the decision is pretty much irrevocable once done. The best way of testing that is to make sure that the opening is slow. Preferably starts a month or two out so we can get more of the under 65s having had boosters. And more of the little spreaders having had vaccines to reduce the spread in school populations and their families.

          The wider the scope of vaccine incurred resistance, the easier the load on the hospital system when it all goes pear shaped.

          You only have to look at ScoMo attempting to not say sorry for infecting so many so fast to see the downstream consequences of doing it too fast.

        • DS 3.2.1.2

          Apart from the human right to not have to worry about deaths because middle-class whingers can't understand the concept of social solidarity.

          Honestly, NZBORA needs repealed. It only encourages middle-class entitlement.

          • Ad 3.2.1.2.1

            It ain't the middle class holding marches against vaccine mandates and vaccines themselves.

            It's the proles.

            • DS 3.2.1.2.1.1

              Nah, it's a sliver of morons being egged on (and encouraged) by the media. But the bashing of MIQ is solidly a middle-class thing.

              (You think the unwashed masses care about overseas holidays?).

          • lprent 3.2.1.2.2

            Honestly, NZBORA needs repealed. It only encourages middle-class entitlement.

            Starting to lean that way myself. People appear incapable of understanding the Act, its purpose, and what it actually states.

            I’d be interested if amongst what are probably by now thousands of arguments made in cases just how many actually succeeded with a NZBORA basis in the judgements. As far as I can see NZBORA is mainly thrown in as a Hail Mary in piss-poor cases where people are trying to justify actions that implicitly trample the laws and over the rights of others.

            And outside of the legal briefs, it is even worse. I am pretty sure that about half of all statements that I have ever heard about NZBORA and its effects are simply fabrications.

            At this point I suspect that it does more harm than good in our legal code.

      • weka 3.2.2

        Yep. I can't see how they can kill MiQ. I think they can just start with their graduated opening though, and prioritising people who are stuck because of the lottery system. Removing all MiQ at the end of Feb in one go would be daft.

  3. I think the whole MIQ system is becoming toxic for the government. I predict that fully vaccinated kiwis will allowed to bypass the system before the end of the month.

    Firstly it seems so inconsistent and unfair. It seems that people such as overseas DJs are able to get in whereas people with genuine need seem so often locked out:

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/entertainment/music/127272141/how-international-djs-landed-in-new-zealand-and-secured-spots-in-miq

    The system might be seen more favourably if people were actually allowed in on the basis of need or genuine importance to the core functioning of NZ.

    Secondly, it is seeming less and less relevant by the day as Omicron starts to surge in New Zealand. Once Omicron really takes off, people will be at much higher risk of catching Omicron from within New Zealand than from people coming across the boarder.

    Finally, there will be a vital need for the skills that returning kiwis can bring to augment the industries that are going to find it difficult to function due mass sickness.

    • Another point is that kiwis can easily bypass the booking system anyway by simply including Auckland as a transit destination to another country, but refuse to board the flight for the final leg of the journey:

      https://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/news/300500844/zero-tolerance-for-kiwis-trying-to-enter-country-as-bogus-transit-passengers

      This is a very difficult loophole for the government to close because NZ citizens can't legally be deported from their own country, despite MIQ saying they have "zero-tolerance" for this tactic. From the article:

      "Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) has “zero tolerance” for Kiwis attempting to get into the country by posing as transit passengers – but an immigration lawyer says he can’t see any legal reason why they shouldn’t be able to do so."

    • lprent 4.2

      See my comment 1.1. Ultimately you're correct.

      However in the short-term it'd be bloody stupid.

      For instance the vaccinated coming across are just as capable of being a patient zero and starting a omicron cluster. They are just less likely to be as good at spreading because on average their viral load is less. However if you increase the numbers of that type, then they will cause spread.

      And if you want to trust those vaccinated dimwits wanting to queue jump MIQ that we keep hearing in the media to self-isolate for the required time do they don't infect others – then obviously you haven't been reading the articles closely enough. Most of them come across as irresponsible self-entitled fools who haven't anticipated perfectly obvious problems. Like going to aussie in the middle of pandemic. Or letting their visas expire in whatever country they're guesting in when they know that there is a queue to come back.

    • mpledger 4.3

      But the people who are kept safe by a regulated border never get their voices in the media – the immuno-compromised, those with lung/heart diseases and, beyond them, the people who care for them . There is a lot of taciturn NZers of the older generation who are very happy to have MIQ keeping the flow of covid-19 into the country under screws but you never get to hear their opinion expressed.

  4. Drowsy M. Kram 5

    Cumulatively New Zealand has one death per hundred thousand people. The Australian figure is 114.6, the UK 232.1 and the US 264.

    Nice post – may not be politically palatable, but I hope some form of MIQ at NZ's border is retained until expert consensus opinion is that it’s no longer a net benefit to public health.

    The Australian figure is closer to 3760 / 260 = 14.5 deaths per hundred thousand people. You might have copied the number of deaths from the adjacent New Cases column (29658 / 260 = 114).

    [Thanks it is a typo. Correct figure should be 14.6. Now corrected – MS]

  5. I am not so sure that the death rate comparison is such a valid comparison or justification for continuing MIQ now. It probably was at the beginning of the pandemic. But now death rates are dropping world wide, with a number of the countries on the graph in the link below trending down towards NZ's death rate:

    https://ourworldindata.org/mortality-risk-covid

    • Nordy 6.1

      Can you confirm your acceptable death rate, if you aren't sure that the death rate comparison' is valid?

      • tsmithfield 6.1.1

        If we were going to say that the only acceptable death rate for anything is zero, then driving cars would be banned. Everything involves some degree of risk.

        So there should always be a balance of considerations. Balanced against deaths from Covid, which should be quite low now anyway due to our high vaccination status, we need to consider the long term effects that also impact on health. For example, delays in heart surgery, and how that might affect mortality:

        https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/covid-19-omicron-outbreak-wait-times-for-heart-surgery-grow-at-auckland-dhb/AOXUTSPV4ZCE6Z5C7U2XVWY6D4/

        And the stress on small businesses owners facing bankruptcy under the current settings, especially those in hospitality and tourism:

        "Small business consultant and co-founder of The Facts, Geoff Neal, said the sharp increase in closures can only be explained by the pandemic, and the associated lockdowns and travel restrictions."

        https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/456929/business-closures-outnumber-new-firms-for-first-time-in-nearly-a-decade

        Evidence suggests that being under heavy stress can reduce life expectancy by 2.8 years:

        https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200311100857.htm#:~:text=Being%20under%20heavy%20stress%20shortens,expectancy%20of%20men%20and%20women.

        So there is a mortality cost whatever decisions are made, and it is about finding the correct balance.

        I am not qualified to determine what that balance is. But, given that we are very highly vaccinated in NZ now, I suggest the risk of the types of factors I have raised above is starting to outweigh the benefits of MIQ.

        • Nordy 6.1.1.1

          I do agree you are particularly unqualified to make any determinations given your clear lack of understanding of the science involved in responding to a pandemic.

          Wanting to always criticise the government (for political reasons) is no excuse for lazy analysis (including avoiding the hard questions).

          The fact that there are no easy decisions is covered in the article.

          • tsmithfield 6.1.1.1.1

            So, what would be an acceptable death rate to you? Given there has been and will continue to be a death rate.

            Who knows, history may show that the cure has been worse than the disease when everything has been accounted for.

        • Poission 6.1.1.2

          The benefits of MIQ outweigh the costs of open borders for the next variant.Opening whilst omicron (all 3 sub variants) is still an open and fatal problem.There is no benefit in an endemic virus, which has reinfection and recombination that allows further opportunity for variation.

          https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-00155-x

      • Enough is Enough 6.1.2

        Nordy what is your acceptable death rate?

      • Gypsy 6.1.3

        That's the sort of silly question that taints any discussion about Covid. What is your acceptable death rate for influenza before we shut the country down in lockdowns? The road toll? Drownings?

        • McFlock 6.1.3.1

          The "acceptable" death rate is always zero.

          The question is always whether any population-level intervention will reduce that death rate, while not causing other deaths.

          Would lockdown prevent drowning deaths? No, because people will still go to the beach. It might even increase drownings, because of no formal swimming training and no official lifeguards.

          Same with lockdown and road deaths – will the few drivers on the road be less experienced and more likely to run from pursuit?

          Influenza is about the only one that might be relevant to lockdowns, but frankly I'd prefer to look at somethig like mandatory MIQ or flu vaccines for tourists even post covid. That 2020 lockdown might have saved hundreds of lives from non-covid diseases, too.

          We spend billions on road safety, water safety, even influenza control. But we try to do what actually works, not some tory wet dream.

          • Gypsy 6.1.3.1.1

            If lockdowns were applied to people visiting beaches and driving cars, there would be no drownings or road deaths. Simple. Yet we have never entertained any such measures.

            There is a substantial hidden toll on the country that is not considered when people throw around the 'we've saved peoples lives' argument. It's hidden in the as yet untabulated mental health impacts. And in a variety of other ways.

            • McFlock 6.1.3.1.1.1

              If lockdowns were applied to people visiting beaches and driving cars, there would be no drownings or road deaths. Simple. Yet we have never entertained any such measures.

              Except that's not actually true, is it. Because people would break the rules. And maybe driving that behavoiur underground will cause more harm than good. And also maybe the harm from those policies, as you point out, might be justified by avoiding several thousands of deaths from a virulent disease, but maybe the math isn't quite so clear even if one combined road toll, drownings, and flu.

              So sure, bring up your public health suggestions, but do all aspects of the equations.

              Oh, and mental health is definitely a lockdown issue, even if suicides don't seem to be.

              • Gypsy

                "Because people would break the rules."

                Some would yes, but there would be so many lives saved. Let's do it.

                • McFlock

                  How do you know there would be so many lives saved? What of the negative effects? Are there alternative interventions that would avoid that level of harm – would efficient public transport and better road design have a similar outcome on the road toll, for example, without the negative effects of a lockdown?

                  • Gypsy

                    All good questions. I wonder if similar questions were asked before wrecking havoc with NZ's social and economic wellbeing?

                  • Gypsy

                    "Love the way you're commenting as if these arguments weren't being had loudly and in public at the time "
                    Love the way you seem to be willing to mitigate some fairly inept behaviour.

                    • McFlock

                      Dude, the people complaining loudest about the NZ govt's "inept" covid response are the people I wouldn't want to see within a fucking mile of managing any covid response because, in the great spectrum of covid response ineptitude, I think they'd drop somewhere between "Boris Johnson" and "dolt45".

                      Most critics of the government covid response are like any other type of critic.

                      Meanwhile, our casualty rate compared to the rest of the world speaks for itself.

          • Gypsy 6.1.3.1.2

            "That 2020 lockdown might have saved hundreds of lives from non-covid diseases, too."

            Absolutely. So there's a way to save 817 (based on 2017 flu & pneumonia deaths) lives each year. That would be a socialists wet dream.

            • McFlock 6.1.3.1.2.1

              Yes, saving lives is indeed an objective seemingly more common amongst the left than the right. But whether lockdowns are a "good way" to do that? I suspect there are better options to explore first.

              Do you have any ideas on that?

              • Gypsy

                It's the control impulse that is more common on the left, not empathy.

                There are many things the government could/should have done better, as Brian Roche found. Given the ongoing issues with MIQ, the governments seeming inability to understand it's own ICU capacity, and it's failure to secure stocks of RAT's in a timely manner, there's a long list.

                • McFlock

                  That seems to be a subject change from how to save the 800 lives lost to influenza and pneumonia. No thoughts on that, or do you believe that a lockdown would be the only way to do it?

                  • Gypsy

                    Lockdowns were a legitimate response in the early months of the pandemic while we:

                    1. Front footed a vaccine rollout.

                    2. Increased ICU capacity.

                    3. Launched a professionally planned testing regime.

                    4. Ran an effective MIQ program.

                    Many of the restrictions we faced in 2021 were the result of the governments own sloppiness.

                    • mpledger

                      It's easy to put more beds in ICU, it's not easy to bring online the staff to look after those extra beds. I don't know how long it takes to train ICU docs and ICU nurses but I don't envision it being quick.

                    • Gypsy

                      "I don't know how long it takes to train ICU docs and ICU nurses but I don't envision it being quick."
                      It's much quicker when you prioritise nurses over DJ's.

                    • mpledger

                      And if the govt had time to do planning, had infinite money and infinite resources then maybe there could have been improvements. But they made judgements under heavy time constraints, with limited information and with resources currently available. IMO they did bloody well.

                      I personally think it was the correct ethical decision to delay vaccination for the general public while NZ was at near zero risk and other countries were being ravaged.

                    • mpledger

                      I think letting in DJs was pretty dumb but then I am not a 20 year old who had been in lockdown for 100 days. However, the choices weren't ICU nurses on one hand or DJs on the other.

                    • Gypsy

                      "And if the govt had time to do planning"

                      They did.

                      "IMO they did bloody well. "
                      So many people disagree with you.

                      https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/455497/poor-planning-conflicts-of-interest-in-saliva-testing-programme-auditor-general

                      https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2021/11/covid-19-sir-brian-roche-s-searing-review-of-government-s-handling-of-delta-outbreak.html

                      "However, the choices weren't ICU nurses on one hand or DJs on the other."

                      Not directly, But while DJ's are allowed in, and ICU nurses not, somethings not right.

                    • McFlock

                      Front footing the rollout of a vaccine that didn't exist?

                      How do we know an ICU nurse from Arkansas or Belorus has the skillsets needed for NZ ICU, before poaching them from places that need them? And would we pay all NZ staff the same rate it takes to attract nurses from Aus, or are they just shit out of luck?

                      Testing maybe could have gone better, but at least we didn't lose results because the collating unit used excel, like happened in England.

                      MIQ is effective. Look at the number of cases stopped at the border. Now imagine the problem with all of those people coming straight in if MIQ is ended. I think the nats have a petition about that.

                  • Gypsy

                    "Front footing the rollout of a vaccine that didn't exist?"
                    The vaccine did exist. The UK was rolling it out weeks before we even placed our first orders.

                    "How do we know an ICU nurse from Arkansas or Belorus has the skillsets needed for NZ ICU, before poaching them from places that need them? "
                    Quite easily actually. We have existing criteria to determine that. And we wouldn't be 'poaching' them. NZ citizens who are nurses can;t get home. ANd other nurses who already had jobs in NZ have been shut out.

                    "MIQ is effective."
                    Only if by 'effective' you mean cruel and vindictive. Or three times as likely to be breached than in Australia (https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/covid-19/441594/nz-s-miq-system-three-times-more-likely-to-be-breached-than-australia-s-report).

                    • McFlock

                      You said the "early months of the pandemic". The vaccine took many months to develop.

                      And then we preordered and coordinated our distribution and communication, so now we have a higher vax rate than many countries we supposedly lagged behind.

                    • Drowsy M. Kram

                      The vaccine did exist. The UK was rolling it out weeks before we even placed our first orders.

                      And yet: 11 Kiwi deaths per million; 2,280 UK deaths per milion.
                      I know where I'd rather be.

                      NZ citizens who are nurses can't get home.
                      The Ministry of Health said only about 79 of about 300 critical healthcare worker slots available in MIQ to 15 December were filled.

                      That was for all healthcare workers, not just nurses.

                      Of the roughly 900 available from November to February, 147 places were allocated – although there was still time for others to join.

                      Only if by 'effective' you mean cruel and vindictive.

                      MIQ facilities and staff have been effective in limiting the freedom of imported COVID-19 variants to infect resident NZers, while facilitating the entry of 220,763 people to NZ. Not perfect, but effective – MIQ staff have earned our thanks and respect, imho.

                    • Gypsy

                      "And yet: 11 Kiwi deaths per million; 2,280 UK deaths per milion."
                      That's irrelevant. The issue is not whether we compare favourably with the UK.

                      "Not perfect; effective."
                      MIQ has not been effective at allowing desperately needed nurses to enter the country.

                      MIQ has not been effective at reuniting people with their terminally ill loved ones, or bringing sick kiwi's home.

                      But it's been very effective at allowing Dj's and the wiggles to visit.

                    • Drowsy M. Kram

                      Gypsy, do you think "MIQ staff have earned our thanks and respect"?
                      I think they have.

                      Can we agree that our MIQ system has contributed to NZ's enviably low per capita COVID death rate? 14 times lower than Australia’s.

                      And can we also agree that there are "critical healthcare worker slots" in MIQ that are unfilled, as detailed at the end of the 10 Dec. 2021 RNZ report that you linked to in your comment @3:42 pm?

                      It appears you've nothing good to say about MIQ services – readers here can speculate on the reason(s) for that.

                      If, however, you can agree that MIQ has facilitated the travel of 220,763 people to NZ during a pandemic, while greatly decreasing the risk of infecting resident Kiwis with imported Sars-CoV-2, then I can acknowledge that the MIQ system is under-resourced (like many of NZ's publicly-funded services), has (temporarily) disrupted the travel plans of many people in 2020-21 (my father and step-father included), and continues to incovenience many would-be international travellers.

                    • Gypsy

                      Hi Drowsy

                      Some of your questions suggest to me a confusion between MIQ as an organisation, and MIQ as a function. However I will answer your questions in good faith.

                      “Gypsy, do you think "MIQ staff have earned our thanks and respect"?”

                      What staff? The hotel staff who have had to deal with all manner of bad behaviour? Yes. Those who are setting a policy that results in avoidable outcomes like this and this while wiggles and DJ's and MP's waltz in? No.

                      “Can we agree that our MIQ system has contributed to NZ's enviably low per capita COVID death rate? 14 times lower than Australia’s.”

                      Yes, of course.

                      “It appears you've nothing good to say about MIQ services – readers here can speculate on the reason(s) for that.”

                      I contribute to the discussion as issues arise. Obviously, as you point out, “MIQ has facilitated the travel of 220,763 people to NZ during a pandemic,” but that isn’t much of an achievement when you consider the contents of this and many others like it.

                    • Drowsy M. Kram

                      Hi Gypsy,

                      Some of your questions suggest to me a confusion between MIQ as an organisation, and MIQ as a function.

                      Intriguing – could you expand on your idea that there might be "a confusion between MIQ as an organisation, and MIQ as a function"?

                      https://www.mbie.govt.nz/business-and-employment/economic-development/covid-19-data-resources/managed-isolation-and-quarantine-data/miq-capacity-and-allocations/

                      The hotel staff who have had to deal with all manner of bad behaviour? Yes.

                      Excellent. I doubt that "all manner of bad behaviour" is the norm, but understand the impulse to talk up this behaviour among the 220,763 people that have been accommodated in MIQ facilities.

                      “Can we agree that our MIQ system has contributed to NZ's enviably low per capita COVID death rate? 14 times lower than Australia’s.”

                      Yes, of course.

                      Again, excellent.

                      MIQ has facilitated the travel of 220,763 people to NZ during a pandemic,” but that isn’t much of an achievement when you consider the contents of this and many others like it.

                      Whereas I believe it is a significant achievement, notwithstanding your link to Vance's six-month old opinion piece about it being "time for a watchdog to step in", so we can agree to disagree.

                      Naturally there’s dissatisfaction with the current and earlier methods of allocating places in MIQ, much of which can be attributed to there being insufficent places to meet the needs of the many people wanting to travel to New Zealand – we typically hear the stories of a small proportion of 'exceptionally dissappointed' travellers.

                      I for one am looking forward to the Ombudsman's report on the investigation into MBIE's administration of the Managed Isolation Allocation System – will it be released before or after the staged dismantling of MIQ has begun, I wonder.

                    • Gypsy

                      Drowsy:

                      "Whereas I believe it is a significant achievement, "
                      But it's not. Most decent hotel chain operators could have achieved that…it's simple logistics. In fact it could the governments booking and allocation system was poor – I'd suggest a travel agency could have done a better job by tieing flights and room bookings together to avoid the extent of over booking and capacity constraints.

                    • Drowsy M. Kram

                      "Whereas I believe it is a significant achievement, "
                      But it's not.

                      https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/300499092/covid19-miq-capacity-more-pressured-than-ever-as-border-cases-jump-sixfold

                      https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/127543887/govts-decision-limiting-access-to-miq-in-march-and-april-will-have-no-effect-on-omicron–epidemiologist

                      Whereas I believe that facilitating the travel of 220,763 people (often from countries with comparatively high levels of COVID cases in the community) to New Zealand is a significant achievement, particularly given capacity (supply and demand) constraints.

                      We disagree on this point, but can we agree to disagree?

                      https://www.newsroom.co.nz/letter-from-miq-its-imperfect-but-its-still-needed

                  • Gypsy

                    "You said the "early months of the pandemic". The vaccine took many months to develop."
                    Yes, that's right. We were slow to order, and slow to roll out. Someone referred to it 'sluggish'.

                    • McFlock

                      Lucky miq and lockdowns bought us the time to implement it then, eh.

                      Whinge all you want – can't see you or the nats doing anywhere near as good.

                  • Gypsy

                    "Lucky miq and lockdowns bought us the time to implement it then, eh."
                    In 2020, yes. In 2021, Delta arrived with the vaccination rate so low the costs to the country have been enormous.

                    ” New Zealand’s coronavirus cases jumped on Thursday, as questions grew about the government’s response to the pandemic given the slowest vaccination rate among developed countries and the economic pressures of prolonged isolation.”
                    https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/new-zealand-covid-19-cases-jump-21-origin-outbreak-identified-2021-08-19/

                    • McFlock

                      June 2021 is not the "early months of the pandemic", is it.

                      But also, the funny thing about a lot of the countries who rushed their vaccination efforts is that they still got screwed by delta much more seriously than NZ.

                  • Gypsy

                    "June 2021 is not the "early months of the pandemic", is it."
                    No.. The article is a reflection on how poorly prepared we were, specifically around our vaccinaton rate. What was it again? " the slowest vaccination rate among developed countries"

                    • McFlock

                      Where are we at now, among developed countries?

                      Tortoises and hares come to mind.

                    • Gypsy

                      "Where are we at now, among developed countries?"

                      The comparison should be 'where could we be' if this had been managed better. You're setting a low bar.

    • Poission 6.2

      Change the graph from linear to log,the magnitude of the problem is obvious.

      • tsmithfield 6.2.1

        Really? The magnitude of difference with some of those countries is quite small and closing the gap with us is closing quite quickly:

        eg: Spain 0.95, South Korea 0.8 and Sweden 0.77 compared to us at 0.33.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 6.3

      Otoh, according to that graph, NZ's COVID case fatality rate (CFR; 0.32%) is currently one fifth the world average (1.52%), and lower than all other countries graphed in your link.

      "The CFR can be a poor measure of the mortality risk of the disease" – even so, I'm not keen on changes that might cause NZ's COVID CFR to ‘catch up’ with those other countries.

    • mickysavage 6.4

      It is a reason to review MIQ which the Government is doing. I expect there will be a change soon. But for now it was the right thing to do in terms of trying to suppress the curve.

      • mpledger 6.4.1

        Today there were 79 new cases at the border. I don't see how any good can come of making changes to MIQ. Pre-flight tests are either a failure or a fraud.

        • tsmithfield 6.4.1.1

          I agree. The current requirements are for a negative PCR test within 48 hours of flying:

          https://covid19.govt.nz/travel/international-travel-and-transit/pre-departure-tests-to-enter-new-zealand/

          That would seem to leave far too much time for infection to occur prior to leaving, especially with the prevalence of Omicron. Perhaps it would be also good to require a negative RAT test prior to boarding the plane at the airport.

          It wouldn't catch all the cases, but would at least lessen the number of cases coming in, especially if the government is going to open up the boarder to vaxxed kiwis as I am picking they probably will this month at some time.

          • lprent 6.4.1.1.1

            You mean a RAT test with (at best) an average false negative of around 20% with omicron?

            A test that, at best, doesn't pick up people who have been infected two days previously.

            Basically RAT tests appear to be pretty useless for something like a border.

            The majority of people who are getting MIQ testing showing infections are both tested, have had pre-tests, and who are picking up the infection on their way to airports, in airports, in planes, in transit airports, and probably in arrival at NZ.

            Last time I looked the majority were showing at their day one test.

            Waving RAT tests around like some magic talisman is a bloody stupid idea. They won't block infections, and almost certainly won't make any difference to the number of vaccinated and un-vaccinated people arriving at our border already infected.

            I'd add that in my view RAT test are currently the modern equivalent of a child's dummy nipple for the stupid. They won't particularly stop spread in companies and other organisations, especially because each variant appears to be rapidly making their false negative rate double.

            • tsmithfield 6.4.1.1.1.1

              A RAT test as well as a PCR test. So the RAT test would be the final check not the only check.

              • mpledger

                RAT tests are pretty useless. In a random group of people they are more likely to say a well person is sick then find a sick person. Also, they have to be supervised because they are too easy to cheat. I don't see the airlines wanting to do the supervision or to tell people that they can't board a flight – I can see passengers getting very, very angry over being declined boarding.

        • tsmithfield 6.4.1.2

          There are 876 active cases in the community now (that we know of).

          https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/300505581/covid19-live-ministry-of-health-reports-126-community-cases-8-people-in-hospital

          How many active community cases do we need to get to before the number coming in at the border becomes irrelevant; eg: 5000? 10000? 100000?

          • lprent 6.4.1.2.1

            It depends how long we can keep the daily rate down for. Currently the R0 rate is pretty low because we appear to be successfully contact tracing them and isolating contacts.

            It isn't the total number of cases that counts – it is the number of daily cases that have no clear explanation of contact. While it is containable is what counts for changing policies.

            The effect is to filter down the number of people who need medical assistance. Which means that we defer the decision to start either shoving people with other medical problems out of their hospital beds or triaging who with a bad dose of omicron (ie mostly the elderly or unvaxxed) that we let die so that someone else with a better chance can live.

            The longer that we can continue to constrain the outbreak and keep vaccinating, the less likely it is that we will need to make that policy decision either at a National level, or at a hospital or practice level.

            Basically we need to avoid the murderous stupidity that the Aussie federal government and the state government in NSW performed.

          • Drowsy M. Kram 6.4.1.2.2

            The "876 active cases in the community now (that we know of)" constitute about half of the active COVID cases in NZ. When the number of active cases in MIQ is <10% of the active cases in the community, then it might be time to relax MIQ requirements, with the exception of returnees that are destined for regions with no or very low active community cases.

            For example, I doubt that a majority of people living in the regions covered by these DHBs: South Canterbury, Southern, Wairarapa, West Coast and Wanganui, which have no reported active cases of COVID, would support the relaxation of MIQ for their regions at the moment. The same probably goes for the regions covered by the six DHBs with 2 – 9 active cases.

            Omicron is going to spread, for sure, but why anyone would want to facilitate the spread of Omicron in NZ remains a genuine mystery to me. With only 19 active cases in Western Australia 15 days after the peak of 835,000 active cases across all of Australia, I doubt the state government will be wanting to facilitate the importation of Omicron cases anytime soon, and frankly why would they?

    • Patricia Bremner 6.5

      Not according to NSW and Victoria Australia. You say that as if you yourself have an exemption?

  6. tc 7

    Rnz supplies a soapbox, doesn't ping him on the duplicity and mischief making to score political points.

    Bishop does as expected it's RNZ's lack of integrity that needs sorting out.

    What a gift for an experienced capable journo ciggie boy just offered…..when we find one that wants to do their fn job.

    • mickysavage 7.1

      I thought Susie's interview was very tame. Her questions were good but she did not push it even though they opened up Bishop's hypocrisy.

  7. Ad 8

    Charlotte Bellis has accepted the MIQ place she was offered.

    That publicist will have already signed her up for "new baby" stories in all the women's magazines.

    • Ad – I can see a lucrative career ahead for at least the next 2 years. "My 2 weeks of hell in MIQ". Alleged lack of good prenatal care / the agonising birth / the sleepless nights – it will go on and on. And all the fault of this harsh uncaring government.

  8. MIQ is now making it difficult for us to staff our schools with enough teachers. What will we do when teachers start getting sick and we haven't got enough of them now:

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/300508114/covid19-nz-ministry-of-education-tells-principal-to-apply-for-emergency-miq-spot-for-teacher

    From the article:

    "Desperately needed teachers with visas to get into New Zealand face months in bureaucratic limbo as they still cannot get a spot in managed isolation (MIQ), despite the school year starting this week."

    But an overseas DJ seem to be able to waltz in and out of the country without too much problem:

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/300488326/covid19-dj-dimension-on-third-border-exemption-to-nz-since-december-2020

    Something stinks about this.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 9.1

      MIQ has been credited with keeping NZ's Covid cases among the lowest in the Western world.

      Nearly two years into this pandemic, apparently some people still don't, or can't understand that the purpose of MIQ and other precautionary public health measures is to restrict the freedom of the virus, not it's hosts.

      Imho, if anything stinks it's an apparent enthusiasm for higher Omicron case numbers.

      7-day moving average of daily COVID deaths in Australia: 86

      COVID-19 Omicron: National drops 'now' from 'end MIQ' petition, home-isolation pause 'justified' [26 January 2022]
      "Many other countries, where they've had reopenings, have allowed people to simply after an initial test on arrival to move into the community. That is not the decision that we have made. Ours will still require self-isolation and a testing regime attached to it.

      "Borders have served us really well. It has enabled us to slow down the entry of Omicron into our community versus what the rest of the world has seen."

      National's petition to end MIQ now focuses on the need for a "plan to end it" rather than ending it "now" as it used to suggest.

      "MIQ is a lottery of human misery that is trapping tens of thousands of kiwis offshore, preventing them getting home and reuniting with loved ones," it says. "The sooner we have a plan to end it the better."

      It's not the first controversial petition for National. In 2019, former leader Simon Bridges blamed an "emotional junior staffer" for deleting an online petition concerning the UN migration pact, which was mentioned in the Christchurch terrorist's manifesto.

      It came after the party told media it had been archived "weeks ago" as part of a routine clean-up, which proved to be false, as cached records made clear the petition had still been live.

      • tsmithfield 9.1.1

        As the graph I linked to showed yesterday, other countries are closing in on us fast in terms of mortality for Covid.

        The lockdown glory days of the 2020s which accounted for most of the reduction in mortality compared to the rest of the world isn't as relevant now.

        https://ourworldindata.org/mortality-risk-covid

        Anyway, watch this space. The government is due to make an announcement tomorrow I think which may be for double vaxxed Kiwis to enter NZ without needing to go through MIQ.

        If that is the case, you will probably be saying it is a wonderful policy change.

        • Drowsy M. Kram 9.1.1.1

          Really pleased other countries are closing in on NZ's enviable Covid mortality stats.

          What I don't want is for NZ's Covid mortality to rise to meet those other countries, and so I support the prioritisation of public health considerations (during a pandemic!) and will continue to make them my priority regardless of what our government does.

          • tsmithfield 9.1.1.1.1

            I am not against everything the government is doing with respect to Covid. For instance, I think bringing forward booster shots is a good idea.

            So, my criticisms relate to some specific areas, not the whole response. So far as MIQ goes, I do think it has done its dash, and that the benefits now of maintaining the status quo are soon going to be far outweighed by the costs.

            I think the government is starting to realise that as well which is why I am picking that they will soon allow double vaxxed kiwis to bypass MIQ and isolate at home. Anyway, we may well know this tomorrow.

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