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Two years of living dangerously

Written By: - Date published: 1:53 pm, March 1st, 2022 - 75 comments
Categories: climate change, covid-19, health, uncategorized - Tags:

Yesterday marked the second anniversary of the first Covid case in New Zealand.

What a time it has been.

The initial sense of doom was strong.  I can recall waking up every morning and checking Johns Hopkins to see what the new infection numbers were.  Hearing about the initial wave that hit Italy.  How China was resolute and through suppression techniques that would not work in many Western nations managed to beat back the virus.  How Brazil, America and England butchered their responses through contempt for intellectualism and pandering to selfish stupidity.

I can also recall the feeling of euphoria after the first wave was seen off.  The sense of freedom as we lived mostly very normal lives as the rest of the world burned.  Sure we were not able to go on overseas trips or enjoy the comfort of a million overseas tourists but otherwise things were pretty good.

The country then saw off two more waves while millions died overseas.

Then Delta hit.  It had succeeded in devastating many health systems.  Ours coped.  Peak daily cases were over 200 in November 2001 and by January 18 the six month tally of cases had peaked 11,337 at with a then daily infection rate of 16.  Thanks to vaccination rates that were the envy of many countries in the world it seemed for a while that we could see Delta off as well.

Then it was Omicron’s turn.  Yesterday the six month tally of cases topped 100,000.  Today there were nearly 20,000 new cases.  Suddenly everyone has a member of their extended family, a work mate, a friend of a friend or a contact who has the virus.  Hospitalisations yesterday topped 300 but the number in ICU is still half of the Delta peak.  So far.

The Government has moved quickly to reopen the borders.  It became increasingly difficult to justify the restrictions given what was happening locally.  National will claim credit through using that tried and trusted technique of anticipating something that will inevitably happen in the future and then insisting that it happens quicker.

The mandate policy is holding but clearly will be reviewed in the near future.  Jacinda Ardern over the past few months has been saying precisely this.

There has been some conjecture that the recent High Court decision overruling the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Specified Work Vaccinations) Order 2021 would result in the end of mandates.  The order required police officers and military personnel to be vaccinated.  This case is not authority for the proposition that all aspects of the mandate policy are illegal.  The Judge made it clear that in his view the internal employment policies of Police and Defence, which already allows for vaccines to be mandated, should have been relied on and the order of itself, because its effects were limited, could not be justified.  He also said this:

I should make it clear what this case is not about. The Order being set aside in the present case was not implemented for the purposes of limiting the spread of COVID-19. Health advice was that such a further mandate was not needed for this purpose. Neither should the Court’s conclusion be understood to question the effectiveness and importance of vaccination. The evidence shows that vaccination significantly improves the prospects of avoiding serious illness and death, even with the Omicron variant. It confirms the importance of a booster dose given the waning effect of the first two doses of the vaccine.

The same Judge upheld the Customs Officer mandate but in that decision said:

Whether the challenged measure would remain demonstrably justified on the basis that it contributes to addressing the spread of the virus in circumstances when the virus is endemic in at least parts of New Zealand is an open question.

Clearly we are approaching that time where we will need to learn to live with the virus.  Some of us, myself included, would like to give lockdown one more go, particularly as cases skyrocket, just to get a hold on infections and dampen numbers down so that our system can cope and our doctors and nurses can be given a breather.  I don’t think this will happen however.

As a nation we have performed well.  We are better prepared and more resilient to the virus than any other nation.

Looking back the response has been world beating and we are in a better place than any other developed country in the handling of Covid.  Now we have to get ready and help each other through the most difficult battle yet.

And when this is finished we have to deal with climate change.  A once in a century health crisis is going to be a walk in the park compared to the ravages that climate change will inflict on us.

75 comments on “Two years of living dangerously ”

  1. Pataua4life 1

    Oh MS, don't worry Jacinda has saved us from 80,000 deaths.

    Shit it must be hard living in your world, where everything Labour good, everything/one else bad. To see only one side of the picture. Still you did try to hide funding for Cunliffe in a trust so I guess there is a little bit grey in there somewhere.

    • mickysavage 1.1

      See the graph at the top of the post? It shows respective death rates.

      As for your dig at me all I can do is repeat what the Ukraine Road authority has said to the Russians.

      • Pataua4life 1.1.1

        It is just your sooooooooo predictable. You have become the Wilbur Smith or Lee Child of The Standard.

        Do you agree that the Govt handling of RATS was absolutely piss poor?

        Can you actually bring yourself to say that?

        I don't know.

        [stop attacking authors, it’s bannable offense on TS. I see you do this again and I will ban you. You’re in premod until I see an acknowledgement and agreement – weka]

        • Incognito

          I smell a troll.

        • PsyclingLeft.Always

          You have become the Wilbur Smith or Lee Child of The Standard.

          hmm kind of telling that your Go-To Author selection was these 2 ? As far removed from my reading…OR applicable to MS as could be imagined…in a thousand Imaginings.

        • weka

          mod note.

        • Pataua4life

          Point noted.

          • weka


          • Muttonbird

            I'm sure you have a flag pole in your front yard flying an upside down New Zealand flag.

            Why don't you join the 95%, be proud of your country, and fly it the right way up!

            • Incognito

              Please don’t

              • Muttonbird


                I've talked about my position over the last few days. I'm working bloody hard to to get me and my family through this. Trying to maintain a sense of normalcy in a 1 in 100 year pandemic with ever changing situations so that they are able to be confident and ready to contribute to the post pandemic world and make it better than it was.

                I do my bit for the many, including pandemic denying antivaxxers, but I do get tweaky when those particular people continue their bullshit day after day, and month after month.

                • Incognito

                  Thanks and I hear you, but that other commenter had already been warned by a Moderator today and perhaps should be given some ‘space’ and not ‘egged on’.

        • mickysavage

          Handling of RATS is fine. We have plenty of them in the country at just the right time.

          • felix

            Bullshit, we have barely any. The ministry has failed to actually supply many of the pharmacies that it has been advertising as holding RATs. Go and talk to pharmacy staff who have been fielding requests for months with no supply and no information. As is so often the case with this, the second most disappointing govt of my lifetime, all that matters is the announcement.

          • Cricklewood

            Nah they were late, needed th widely available 2-3 weeks ago

            • Incognito

              Why? We went into Phase 3 of the Omicron Response Plan at 11:59 pm last Thursday night.

              • Cricklewood

                To give my workplace as an example, we had a H&S plan that was going to use RATS across the whole workforce 3 x per week to help prevent widespread infection. Our first cases came at the beginning of phase 2 from an asymptomatic and boosted work mate. We've been hit pretty hard now. If we were able to RAT test as planned we would likely have avoided some of the spread at work. Our RATS finally turned up yesterday afternoon..

                • Incognito

                  Sorry to hear that. May I ask where your workplace ordered the RATs from and where they obtained them from, in the end? My workplace also had a limited supply of RATs, but I didn’t get the impression it would have made a material difference, TBH.

    • Robert Guyton 1.2

      “In an unprecedented move, iwi leaders across Aotearoa – including the Kīngitanga and Taranaki Whānui – have condemned those occupying Parliament’s grounds, who they accuse of “flagrant disrespect of tikanga”.”

      “Followers of Parihaka, the Taranaki Whānui laid Te Kahu o Te Raukura across their whenua tūpuna. Kura Moeahu​, the chairman of Pipitea, said Te Kahu o Te Raukura was a cloak of aroha and peace, which he hoped the protesters would take heed of.”"

    • Tiger Mountain 1.3

      After being lectured for decades by the NZ petit bourgeoisie, SME operators and the Round Table–Roger Kerr RIP, and Business New Zealand, EMA and Federated Farmers and every other aspirational tinpot capitalist lobby group about the superiority of initiative, the market, and self sufficiency and the awfulness of welfare…

      …who put their hand out first in 2020 whether they needed it or not? jeez, I don’t know maybe people like Carter Holt Harvey to the tune of around $7mill that they have not paid back despite ongoing profitability, and they are subject to an Employment Court case in April due to their harvesting employees annual leave to boot!

      So sod off Pataua and the sheep you rode in on.

  2. Poission 2

    Road signs?

  3. joe90 3

    Hmm..who to listen to, the covidiot clowns and their opportunistic enablers or the folk tasked with the mahi of keeping us well and treating us should we fall ill?.

    “Remove all restrictions!” or “Masks are useless!”. What do we feel? That’s hard to describe. Dejected? Frustrated? Hopeless? Yes. But I think the best descriptor is this: unseen. We feel unseen. Ask us. We will tell you.

    We need some restrictions. We need masks. We need physical distancing, open windows, self-isolation of Covid cases and household contacts. Why? Because without that, we are overwhelmed. Not just “the healthcare system is overwhelmed” but we, your nurses and doctors, are overwhelmed. We need the people of New Zealand to help us get through this. We can control what happens when someone arrives at our doors, but that’s where our control ends. We are relying on the people and politicians of Aotearoa to help us, so that we can do our job: helping people.


  4. Patricia Bremner 4

    I don't know what you read Pataua for life, I don't think Micky thinks as you project.

    He is praising a world class approach to the pandemic. Much as it obviously stuck in your craw, Jacinda Ardern her Government and band of Health Advisors and their teams on the ground have been and are magnificent.

    The unedifying behaviour by Woodhouse Boag and company, the constant negative barking by the many National leaders over the two years, the media interpreting the 1pm stand ups rather poorly, though Stuff to their credit ran a "rolling facts page" which became a go to.

    On The Standard opinions divided and hardened into a cheer leader group (me and a few other optimists) the knowledgeable, who added insight on trends facts and participants including virus behaviour. The others with some salient pointers but mainly a variety of naysayers, denialists and trolls.

    Suzy Wiles and Professor Michael Baker DPH explained in lay terms what was happening. We were given good advice in how to have some personal control with handwashing techniques and what would kill the covid virus, how it spread and the social distancing needed and masks. Next we found it was changing and lockdowns began

    The removal of barriers to develop a vaccine, saw us waiting and hoping for a good one. They are leaky vaccines, but the course gives good protection against sever illness and death. Sadly this and mandated vaccines for front facing staff has exacerbated divisions over vaccines.

    Some have objected to public good being promoted over private freedoms, with name calling of "Tyrant" and cries for "Freedom". Protestors brought many arguments forward, but their voices went from violent to peaceful with no real coherent ideas, except "End Mandates"…. which will end when it is safe … one or two months more?

    The majority believe we have been fortunate, and treated well during this by leaders and health edicts designed to save lives. Thank you Jacinda Grant Chris Henare and all, you have done us proud and we are in a stronger position to continue meeting Climate Change challenges.

  5. observer 5

    It's sad to see how very recent history is cynically rewritten, for political point-scoring. A hundred press releases and opinion columns from the opposition, quietly forgotten (looking at you, Hosking and Seymour, to name but two).

    Reminder: New Zealand saved lives because the vaccine did not exist.

    Now you might think that's so obvious it doesn't need to be said. We all remember the race to develop a vaccine, while the virus raged, don't we? Well, no. Every time you see somebody complaining about "Ardern for the last 2 years" that is what they are choosing to ignore.

    Now we are "living with Covid", as the critics demanded for so long. It's not much fun. But until the emergence of Omicron, it would have been vastly worse. "Living with Covid" was not an option, it was only more dying, or less. We chose less.

    • SPC 5.1

      We and others had beaten the "delta" coronavirus with our high vaccination rates – then came the vaccine resistant Omicron.

  6. SPC 6

    I've just on-line ordered a home test kit and await the ability to do the same for anti-viral treatments (or a health system same or next day delivery). This will be the way we live with the coronavirus (and minimise long COVID with early treatment).

    As to the prospect of another lockdown – that will depend on hospitalisation rates as we go into winter, or hospitals being over run during winter.

  7. higherstandard 7

    The government got a number of things right in the initial response to covid such as he initial lockdowns and MIQ requirements prior to vaccines becoming available

    But have got a number of things wrong or at least poorly implemented such as a slow rollout of vaccination and failures in MIQ and ability to return to NZ by NZ citizens.

    In my opinion they also missed a golden opportunity to invest in upgrading and scaling up services to cope with the inevitable outbreak and allowing entry of nursing and clinical staff to support the local workforce during our periods of no significant case numbers of covid in NZ.

    • felix 7.1

      Absolutely. They should never be forgiven for spending the first year of the pandemic quibbling with nurses over paying them a couple of grand more to do what they do, which is run the entire health system. Imagine the howls of outrage if it were a national govt.

      • Incognito 7.1.1

        You do realise that Government is not directly involved in the negotiations with the nurses and that the pay-offers come from the DHBs, don’t you?

      • mickysavage 7.1.2

        Hence the Health Reforms.

      • Tricledrown 7.1.3

        Lowerstandards for National no pay rise for 9 yrs.

        Health funding cut by 20% per head of population.

        Record immigration population increased by 20% over 9 yrs National increased health spending by less than inflation and population increases.

        National has been wanting borders open restrictions gone right from the first lockdown. Even in November 2021 National wanted border restrictions gone as Omricon emerged.

        If we had followed Nationals Policy the numbers of sick and dead would have been in the 10's of thousands.

        Then John Keys big lie about paying more for vaccines would have meant we got vaccines early.

        Pfizer came out and told the NZ public it was a big fat lie.

        National no Moral standards.

    • Muttonbird 7.2

      Covid deaths/million:

      USA – 2918

      UK – 2356

      Sweden – 1677

      Canada – 956

      Denmark – 792

      Australia – 200

      New Zealand – 11

      • Julian Richards 7.2.1

        Covid19 deaths/million continued…

        Vanuatu – 0

        Samoa – 0

        Tonga – 0

        Cook Islands – 0

        Fiji – 940

        Hawaii – 940

        French Polynesia – 2274

    • Belladonna 7.3

      In my opinion they also missed a golden opportunity to invest in upgrading and scaling up services to cope with the inevitable outbreak and allowing entry of nursing and clinical staff to support the local workforce during our periods of no significant case numbers of covid in NZ.

      They also missed the opportunity to attract significant numbers of overseas medical professionals. Who were almost completely shut out of NZ by the immigration system in 2020, and with the critical health worker category far too restrictive, and immigration and MIQ not talking to each other, in 2021.


      And those, actually here, had their immigration applications frozen (God alone knows why).


      I don't know what Kris Faafoi was doing during 2020 – but, it seems, not much.

      In 2021 he seems to have been obsessed with the immigration reset policy, to the exclusion of the understanding that actually we needed medical professionals as a top priority in an international pandemic – perhaps infected by the belief that we could keep Covid out forever.

      And supported by Ardern:

      "We are actually using Covid to actually stop and take a look at our immigration settings."


      The co-ordination between the health, immigration and MIQ portfolios, has been one of the poorer performing areas of the Government's Covid management.

  8. Meanwhile the " stealth variant " is the next mutation and is making an appearance in the U.K and is highly transmissible and can cause severe disease. BA.2 is related to Omnicom but spreads faster.

    The stealth variant is described as a ‘cousin’ of Omicron and designated BA.2. It’s called stealth because it “has certain genetic traits that make it more difficult to identify as Omicron on diagnostic tests—specifically polymerase chain-reaction (PCR) tests”. However, that does not mean that results of a positive coronavirus test or the care needed will change.

    [FFS! If you copy & paste text you must made it clear that it’s a quote, with quotation marks, and you must provide a source/link. The BA.2 variant is already here in NZ but it hasn’t overtaken BA.1 yet; it was briefly discussed here: https://thestandard.org.nz/dont-give-up-new-zealand-omicron-vaccination-protection-and-why-its-the-wrong-time-to-let-it-rip/#comment-1869448. This is your warning – Incognito]

  9. Ad 9

    We can and should accept the government has done well managing the pandemic. Fewer and fewer will give credit to the government for that.

    When you stand back and look at where we are as a country, the measures of the performance of this government are actually terrible.

    Most of us a far poorer. Wealth is far more concentrated in the hands of the top 5%.. Child poverty is static overall with some improvements. Benefits and food banks are through the roof, despite low unemployment, so we are beset with working poverty.

    Most of us have damaged mental health. There's less public transport use, less inter-regional travel, less international travel. Few services. No idea whether health reforms will help services or patients.

    More of us have our income consumed by rent, and fewer own houses to pass wealth on. That's both short and long term damage.

    More of our South Island and central North Island land is sucked dry by dairy production, and will likely never recover.

    Our energy use and type is worse. Our conservation estate is worse. Our CO2 production is worse.

    There is no plan for the country. There are measures, which isn't the same thing.

    When this government started we were promised "transformation", then a "year of delivery", and then something else.

    We ought to have an improved country after two terms. We don't.

    • Craig H 9.1

      With the doomsaying economic predictions in the early days, I'm not sure the government had a lot of serious choice in how they protected the economy once they had gone down the path of lockdowns etc to protect the people from Covid itself. They relied on economic advice as they did health advice, and the economic advice and forecasting seriously missed the boat, so the government pumped in many billions of dollars which turned out not to be needed in the same quantities, but who could foresee that in March 2020?

  10. Mat Simpson 10

    Sourced from the Canary

    " Meanwhile the " stealth variant " is the next mutation and is making an appearance in the U.K and is highly transmissible and can cause severe disease. BA.2 is related to Omnicom but spreads faster "

    " The stealth variant is described as a ‘cousin’ of Omicron and designated BA.2. It’s called stealth because it “has certain genetic traits that make it more difficult to identify as Omicron on diagnostic tests—specifically polymerase chain-reaction (PCR) tests”. However, that does not mean that results of a positive coronavirus test or the care needed will change "


    • Incognito 10.1


      • Tricledrown 10.1.1

        Mat Simpson Bay is here to.So far its only more transmissible.

        Not more dangerous.

        A new variant could emerge any day that could be more deadly as much of the world especially in crowded poor countries with little or no health services and very low vaccination rates.

        At the moment Omricon is dominant but as with this Pandemic no one can say we have and end in sight.

        Caution by this govt has been our best response.

  11. Poission 11

    Neither should the Court’s conclusion be understood to question the effectiveness and importance of vaccination. The evidence shows that vaccination significantly improves the prospects of avoiding serious illness and death, even with the Omicron variant. It confirms the importance of a booster dose given the waning effect of the first two doses of the vaccine.

    Exactly,this has been the fundamental failure of the battalions of bullshitters from PR it the messaging that is important,and it is only one spoke in the wheel.

    You need to get vaccinated to lessen the chance of infection,and decrease the risk of serious illness if infected.

    It is NOT BAU,you do not get to decrease the NPI as the WHO stated quite succinctly.

    I need to be very clear: vaccines alone will not get any country out of this crisis. Countries can and must prevent the spread of Omicron with measures that work today. It’s not vaccines instead of masks, it’s not vaccines instead of distancing, it’s not vaccines instead of ventilation or hand hygiene. Do it all. Do it consistently. Do it well.

    Reducing constraints on border controls,because you looked bad in the overseas press is a fucken failure.Stating that we will be able to have tourism back etc,will be the death nell for tourism and hospitality as NZers shelter in place,and as have most jurisdictions when entertainment was elevated above peoples health.

    See Finland for example.


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  • A health system that takes care of Māori
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  • Investing in better health services
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  • A Secure Future for New Zealanders’ health
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  • Budget highlights underlying strength of economy in face of global headwinds
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  • Budget 2022: A secure future
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  • Health Minister to attend World Health Assembly in Geneva
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  • New efforts to counter illegal timber trade
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  • Deaths in New Zealand lower than expected so far during the pandemic
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  • New law helps secure New Zealand’s maritime domain
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  • Trade and Export Growth Minister to travel to Bangkok for APEC
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  • Government welcomes historic pay-equity deal
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  • Government delivers new ICU space at Christchurch Hospital
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  • Next steps for specialist mental health and addiction services
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