Auckland, and the rest of the country, has been on tenterhooks for the past week. Are we facing a Melbourne type second wave surge? Was our pride in being Covid free horrendously misplaced?
Because for over a hundred days we have been very happy with living in Aotearoa. While the rest of the world struggles locally we enjoyed the ability to gather together, attend weddings and tangihanga, watch sport, catch trains and busses, hang out with family, open our businesses, and get on with life like it was 2019.
Then the bad news happened. A South Auckland family were tested and had the virus. Contact tracing suggested that a number of close contacts also had the disease
The past week has been a blur. The Government has been warning us for a while that the disease would come back. Of course it would. It has beaten highly advanced nations such as Singapore, South Korea and Australia, countries that had it under control but then suffered from its counter attack. It has devastated Europe. Sweden is a mess, the rest of Scandinavia is doing better but still struggling. China has thrown its considerable might against the virus and has it under control, but not by much.
Taiwan is doing well. Vietnam was, but is now struggling. Most Pacific Islands, god bless them, are doing ok but they have closed up their borders and are hanging on because the sweet sugar hit of tourism has been switched off.
But we have this desire to be world beaters. We want to knock the bugger off.
The good news is that it appears all infections are linked to the same cluster. The Pacific family, god bless them, had the sense to be tested and were tracking where they had been to and have since the diagnosis done everything correct. They deserve our gratitude and our thanks that they have acted so responsibly. Those keyboard warriors on social media who have given them abuse should frankly get stuffed.
And the genome sequencing suggests that the virus did not come from anyone in quarantine. The cool store theory may have legs. Collins cannot help herself suggesting that the outbreak is evidence of a quarantine failure but the genome analysis clearly indicates that it is not.
This will go one of two ways. If this current cluster is managed and isolated and there are declining numbers of new infections over the next week then great. Crisis averted and Jacinda’s mana will be reinforced.
If it spirals out of control or proves to be impossible to eradicate then her standing will be lessened but not by much. We will be in the same position as the rest of the western world excepting Taiwan which will be unique in its successful handling of the virus.
Dealing with this disease is like engaging in a really important game of whack-a-mole. But one that you cannot afford to miss.
It is interesting that a coalition of losers, including National and NZ First, has emerged and are demanding that the election is delayed. National’s pollster has conducted a poll and hinted that Aucklanders favour a delay. Given that he is the source of Gerry Brownlee’s “closer to 40%”comment when referring to National’s polling I think the results should be taken with a large amount of salt. He requires people to pay to see the results and this for me would be a bridge too far.
National is demanding a delay to the election and is hinting that a withdraw of confidence may happen otherwise. Last time I checked loss of confidence in a Government required an election to be held.
And I wonder if Collins remembers back in 1984 when National called a snap election? The election was called on June 14 and held on July 14. It seems there is plenty of time to restart campaigns and have the election held.
National are creating huge amounts of noise right now which suggests their concerns about not being able to campaign properly are not correct. I wonder if the fact they have barely any released policy and are still struggling with selections has any bearing on their behaviour?
I suspect Jacinda may delay the election for a month in the hope that Auckland gets back to level 2. But for me I would like to get on with the election so we can have a new Government set up to again address this uniquely dangerous infection. The longer the election campaign is stretched out the greater the level of noise being generated. I would prefer that our elected representatives just got on with the job and were not distracted by petty politics from Parties facing a disaster in the next election.
Update: Ardern has announced a short deferral of election day to October 17.