Border exemptions on economic grounds not a priority for the govt, as it gear up to cope with increasing numbers of returning kiwis; Cost to taxpayers to hit $379mln by December

Border exemptions on economic grounds not a priority for the govt, as it gear up to cope with increasing numbers of returning kiwis; Cost to taxpayers to hit $379mln by December
Cartoon by Ross Payne

The cost to taxpayers of isolating/quarantining overseas arrivals is expected to hit $379 million by the end of the year.

Housing Minister Megan Woods said the Government has allocated $298 million towards managed isolation/quarantine from July to December. The cost to the end of June is expected to be $81 million.

The Government will in coming weeks look into requiring kiwis returning home to cover part of the cost.

Woods couldn’t say how many returnees she expected by the end of the year, but projected numbers increasing by between 2% and 4% every two weeks.

Around 3000 people have returned in the past week and a bit. 534 are due to arrive on Tuesday and 305 on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern didn't expect the number of foreign nationals given exemptions to enter the country on economic grounds (like the Avatar film crew) to increase at a higher rate.

“What we have is a very tight set of criteria, which to date has let in a few hundred individuals amongst 20,000. Our expectation is that because the criteria remains the same, the numbers are expected to continue on as they are,” she said. has asked the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment for an update on the exact number of people given exemptions under the "other essential worker" category.

While the firms these people work for are required to cover their accommodation and food costs, they still need to be tested and monitored at the taxpayer’s expense.

“Any talk about ‘just opening up the borders to this or that’, has to be matched by very careful logistics work,” Woods said.

Ardern said the Government was “not at this point” considering allowing limited numbers of international students into the country.

She said her position on a trans-Tasman bubble hadn’t changed, noting this could only happen when it’s deemed safe.

Ardern said the Government was considering longer-term solutions for managed isolation/quarantine, possibly including purpose-built facilities, but said hiring hotel rooms was working well for now.

She said it would cost a lot to build facilities similar to the four and five-star hotels currently being used to keep people sufficiently separated.

“We’re talking over 4000 rooms and individualised spaces to safely undertake quarantine. So yes, we’re exploring that, but at the moment what we’re doing is providing us the best option in the current conditions,” Ardern said.

Another consideration when selecting isolation/quarantine facilities is proximity to a hospital that can deal with large numbers of COVID-19 cases.

There are currently 4148 beds being used for isolation/quarantine. Another 459 are available.

Ardern said a large number of returnees are from Australia.

Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield could on Monday still not say how many people had been let out of managed isolation without being tested, as was required from June 9.

Ardern on Monday tweaked the Health Order to expressly say a negative COVID-19 result is required before someone can leave isolation/quarantine. The Order previously said a person had to be “low risk”. While Bloomfield said he required a negative result to be satisfied someone was low risk, this wasn't stipulated in law.

Ardern also extended the cruise ship ban and tightened rules for crews on ships/boats docking in New Zealand.

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I think we're doing pretty well, considering most of the response to the pandemic had to be set up from scratch. Contrary to the constant moaning of doomsters, too, we have eliminated the virus locally, and so far prevented spread from quarantine facilities. The "debacle" trumpeted by those who seem to have a desire for the government to fail, has in fact presented an opportunity to test systems, and tighten things up generally. Those wishing for loosening or exemptions are less likely to be listened to, now.


Yeah nah it’s a fustercluck. BTW nice to see you join before the election. Do you get paid by the word or the post?


No - what is happening in the USA is a "fustercluck". We are paragons of science and health in comparison.


Don't waste your time with him ob, i was accused of joining before the last election the other day, which is absolute diatribe but still gotta find someone to vent the fury of the last election being robbed onto...

my 2p - they should be letting the number of people in that they can handle (maybe they are already?), if the quarentine rooms are full you go on a wait list and can come in when there is space and if you have to wait 3 months, so be it.

No surprise there. They have a real estate clown at the helm. An orange-haired buffoon with no clue about what science is all about.


Paranoid much?! Oh shite, I joined recently before the election too! Quit with the vitriol, it’s pathetic

At least National won't be the biggest loser this time.

Still Covid free I take it Expuke..pat?


"Contrary to the constant moaning of doomsters, too, we have eliminated the virus locally, and so far prevented spread from quarantine facilities."

We cannot know this because of the total failure of the testing process in the quarantine facilities. Ask yourself a really really simple question: Do you think we had no cases for three weeks because we were just really really lucky, or do you think it has something to do with the lax procedures that only got tightened up on once the media started telling us what was actually happening? How many people went through the quarantine process with no test or returned a false negative and were let go because they were asymptomatic? You don't know this, you can't know it, yet you've decided it's a success.

Those who are 'trumpeting the debacle' are literally the only reason quarantine started being handled properly. As with most things, it was "we say it's this, therefore it is this, actual fact of the matter be damned".

as trump said if you dont test you wont have any cases, if we did not let one through that was more luck than anything especially since some of the ones they are catching now are showing no symptoms. i hope we are lucky and we found out in time and now the borders have been tightened and for that we can thank Thelma and louise for highlighting in public what some of us knew about the border quarantine processes.
i walk pass jet park inn to work each day, the hotel the covid cases are taken to, and the schools and SPCA on the road are still operating at level 3 or 2 the rest of the companies are at level 1, not sure if they are aware or if the others are cautious

We should have seen community transmission if cases were released into the community over three weeks ago. How many times are you expecting someone to be tested in case of these false negatives you talk of? The vast majority were isolated for 2 weeks which is the most critical part of the quarantine process.

You would think that, but we spent an extra two weeks in lockdown to make sure it wasn't in the community the first time. We're probably only now at the point where community transmission would be spreading fast enough to generate enough symptomatic cases to get picked up at a community testing level. Either those two weeks were bullshit or the PM has been giving assurances that she can't give i.e. spin. I'll let you pick which one is more likely based on performance to date.

Complete nonsense .. community transmission takes a month or 2 to get to the kind of numbers our rate of testing can reasonably be expected to catch.
Untested asymptomatic carriers released from border quarantine up to mid-May went into locked down country and therefore were less likely to spread. Not the case with those let through over the last few weeks.
Expect community spread to be detected by late July .

The guidance from the government is that if you have any respiratory symptoms to get a test, which are freely and widely available and you get results within 24 hours by txt message.

Just this last week we've had some of the highest daily administered test counts, with 6,273 on Thursday, 7,707 on Friday and 5,950 on Saturday. People are taking this seriously and getting tested when they need to be.

I think it is you who is talking nonsense.

Let us say we have 10 asymptomatic carriers walking around. Let us say they are equally likely to get tested as people with some respiratory symptoms ( a generous assumption - we are talking specifically about asymptomatic people ).

The odds of one of them being caught in 6K test run on and average weekday ( fewer tests on the weekend ) are in order of 1% and about 6% over a week .
If we do have community spread our current testing levels will likely only pick it up once the true number of cases is order of low hundreds.

You know those basics of course - it just does not suit your narrative.

A huge portion of tests being run at the moment will be tests they should have run on people previously but didn't.

I suspect our testing in the wider community is probably well down, unsure if we are even doing sentinel testing anymore? Would be good if MOH could break down the tests if they don't do so already, between returnees and the general population.

Erm, the 6k tests are not randomly selected. People self-select themselves. If people are completely asymptomatic (this appears to be less than 5% of people with covid, so for 10 cases to have no symptoms at all there'd be another 190 people with symptoms, but lets just carry on with your silly make believe) then they almost certainly wouldn't get tested.

As asymptomatic people are anecdotally not particularly infectious, it's impossible to know how many people they would pass it on to. Lets say 1 of these 10 people ends up attending a large event and becomes a super-spreader, spreading COVID to 50 other people. It takes 5 days on average for people to develop symptoms, during which time they are particularly contagious and may be infecting others. After 5 days, it is quite likely that at least 1 of these 50 people would take themselves off to get tested as per government advice (either they've heard it themselves, or their employer tells them not to come in and instead get tested).

So really we're looking at about a 7 day turn around from when one of these asymptomatic people carry out a super-spreading event to when we could reasonably expect someone infected via community transmission to have gotten a test and returned a positive result. As the days go on, a higher and higher proportion of the people originally infected at the super-spreading event are likely to go and get tests, as well as all of the people they have then transmitted it to during their 5 day contagious incubation period. These positive results would show up as community transmission.

So your blithe statement that it wouldn't be until "late July" that we discovered community transmission shows you don't actually understand how any of this works at all, as I've just outlined to you a likely scenario (again, ignoring the fact that for 10 asymptomatic carriers, there'd be another 190 people with symptoms, on average).

So much wrong with your post - clearly shows you are the one who does not understand how Covid spreads.

First of all the best data we have from situations were "everyone" has been tested ( Theodore Roosevelt, cruise ships etc. ) indicates that asymptomatic cases account for 50% , may be 60% of all cases - the exact percentage is of course not known and will depend on the population involved - but it is certainly not 5% - it is in fact about an order of scale higher.

We are of course not dealing with unbiased symptomatic /asymptomatic sample to start with - it is reasonably safe to assume that the carriers let out of border quarantine were asymptomatic , so the whole "first generation" of the current hypothetical infection wave consists of asymptomatic people.

The statement " for 10 cases to have no symptoms at all there'd be another 190 people with symptoms" is therefore complete nonsense given the context . We can actually have just that - 10 asymptomatic cases and 0 symptomatic cases to start with.
This will of course change over time ending up with about an event split ; the doubling time to be expected would be 4-6 days. It would take a few cycles for the numbers to climb to low hundreds - which is when we have significant probabilities of catching this i through testing about .1% of population on an average day.

The super spreading event tale is something that may or may not occur - impossible to put a probability on that ; what you seem to be saying ( as far as I can make sense of it at all ) is that it would have already happened and we would know it has - which is plain nonsense. A super spreading event would lead to community transmission - but it can easily happen without one.

First of all the best data we have from situations were "everyone" has been tested ( Theodore Roosevelt, cruise ships etc. ) indicates that asymptomatic cases account for 50% , may be 60% of all case

Displaying no symptoms at the instant of being tested and returning a positive result doesn't mean they are 'asymptomatic', these people are called "pre-symptomatic". Similarly many people have very mild symptoms, but mild symptoms != no symptoms, which is what 'asymptomatic' means. The proportion of people who are truly asymptomatic and 0 symptoms whatsoever is quite small.

We can actually have just that - 10 asymptomatic cases and 0 symptomatic cases to start with.

Of course it's possible, but incredibly unlikely.

It would take a few cycles for the numbers to climb to low hundreds - which is when we have significant probabilities of catching this i through testing about .1% of population on an average day.

And this is your key misunderstanding. Testing is not done on a random sample of everyone living in NZ every day. Testing is done on people who self-report for testing because they have symptoms. Thus we don't have to wait for "low hundreds" to arise - we simply need ONE person with symptoms to turn up for testing to get a positive result in order for us to detect community spread. This can easily happen as soon as 5 days (ON AVERAGE) after they catch COVID-19 off a carrier. Symptoms can develop in as few as 2 days, so in a 'good luck' case we could detect community transmission very soon after it has occurred. In any event, on average it is 5 days to start presenting symptoms, but 95% of people present symptoms after 12 days - that's why we have a 14 day isolation period, to be sure that 97-98% of people who have COVID-19 and will develop symptoms, have shown symptoms by that point.

So, assuming these asymptomatic people actually pass the disease on to other people - which is the whole thing we are concerned about when talking about "community spread", if they pass it on to several people at once, it's highly likely that merely *1* of those people will have developed symptoms and reported for testing and received a positive result within 7 days of being infected originally.

Thus, if people are out there spreading it in the community now, it won't take until "late July" as you claimed to see a signal of community spread.

is that it would have already happened and we would know it has - which is plain nonsense

No, that is not at all what I said. Sorry. Try again.

You argument can be summarized as "if we had community spread we would catch it within a few days with current testing ".
Tell me - why is it widely accepted that we had to wait for over 20 days without cases (and up to 28 days by most models ) until we could be sure of elimination - all with much the same level of and approach to testing we are doing now ?

" The proportion of people who are truly asymptomatic and 0 symptoms whatsoever is quite small." - reference please.
It is simply false . The data from the aircraft carrier and the cruise ships is 3 months old now - plenty of time to separate pre-symptomatic cases from truly asymptomatic cases. The proportion of truly asymptomatic cases is around 50% , not 5% .

"We can actually have just that - 10 asymptomatic cases and 0 symptomatic cases to start with. - Of course it's possible, but incredibly unlikely."
No it is not . For this to happen we only have to assume that they were screening people at the border for symptoms - and not letting people with
symptoms out. I would expect that - although it is hard to know exactly what screening ( if any .. ) they have been doing .

The symptoms take on average 5 days to develop ( not 2 days you mention for some reason - can in fact take up to 14 days to develop). It is unlikely that a large proportion of people with some kind of symptoms will go the the doctors on the first day the get the symptoms - this is not the way most people act , so additional lag there.

" but 95% of people present symptoms after 12 days - that's why we have a 14 day isolation period, to be sure that 97-98% of people who have COVID-19 and will develop symptoms, have shown symptoms by that point."
Wrong. About 50% of the people with Covid never show any symptoms at all. The numbers you mention are about right in relation to those who do show symptoms - but that is different of course.

I understand perfectly well that we are not testing random ~.1% samples of population daily ; we are testing symptomatics , largely self-selected. This in fact makes for a likely further delay in detection if you start with asymptomatic carriers only - which is likely based on "selection" at the border until recently.

Tell me - why is it widely accepted that we had to wait for over 20 days without cases (and up to 28 days by most models ) until we could be sure of elimination - all with much the same level of and approach to testing we are doing now ?

Exceptionally simple, if you actually stopped to think about it.

To know community spread is happening, you only have to catch *1* single person who has COVID-19 unexpectedly. That can, if you're lucky, happen when someone has just caught COVID-19, and already had a cold, and so they go in to get tested for their cold and coincidentally return a positive result for COVID-19, many days before they show any symptoms of COVID-19 itself.

More realistically, they develop symptoms around day 5-6 and get tested then. So then it's 7-8 days from infection to when the positive result is announced to the country.

The point is that the AVERAGE time to develop symptoms is 5-6 days. So if you have 10 people infected (from a super-spreading event, say), then 5 of them will have developed symptoms by day 5 - or sooner. What are the chances that any one of those 5 people go to get tested when they notice symptoms, because that is what the government is saying to do? Quite high. Where you keep repeatedly falling down is imagining that testing is a random sample across all New Zealanders. It isn't.

Contrast with with being CERTAIN that there is NO community spread happening - you have to wait for at least 12 days to start with, because that's the 95% confidence interval for when people will exhibit symptoms. Furthermore, you could have several chains of 1 to 1 transmission: day 0, person A is infected, day 12, person B is infected, day 24 person C is infected. With so few people infected, it takes a long time to be certain that ongoing transmission is not occurring - it person A and B don't bother to get tested (and infected no other people), it's only when person C finally presents and gets tested that you know community transmission was occurring. Contrast this long thin chain stretched out over 24 days to your starting scenario of 10 asymptomatic people, followed up with your claim of "low hundreds" of people being infected - in the present situation in NZ if there were that many people with COVID-19 out in the community, asymptomatic or not, at least 1 single person would turn up with a positive result within 10-15 days of being infected.

Finally, the reason we had to wait so long to get out of lockdown was because at the time testing was NOT freely and widely available. Testing resources were being rationed. That is not the case now - there are some 243,000 test kits available nationwide, contrasted to a total test count to date of around 363,000 it's clear that we have a huge stockpile available now. The government is also actively telling anyone who has any symptoms of respiratory illness to get tested.

So all of this is put together, your statement, which again is what I am disputing, that we would ONLY know about community transmission by "late July" is simply bunk, which is what I said to begin with but you decided to argue with me.

We could detect transmission - a single person reporting COVID-19 with no known vector for catching it - within 1 or 2 days of the transmission occurring if we had exceptionally good luck. More likely it would take 8-10 days, and the chances of detecting *a single person* who has contracted it increases with each additional person infected. There are 40 days to go until "late July". If community transmission were happening now - or had happened in the last week - we would almost certainly know about it before 40 days have passed.

The simple fact is, what is 'bad' about COVID-19 is that lots of people can catch it very quickly. But when lots of people catch it very quickly, testing is able to pick up the signal quickly, because it only takes 1 single person for the alarm to be raised. If only a very few people get infected over long time periods, then it will take longer for an infected person to get tested and for the alarm to be raised - but if very few people are being infected over a long time period, then the situation isn't actually that 'bad' because what is 'bad' is the number of people infected and how quickly they get infected.

The symptoms take on average 5 days to develop ( not 2 days you mention for some reason - can in fact take up to 14 days to develop).

The average onset of symptoms is 5 days. The 95% interval is 2 days to 12 days. That's why I said 2 days. The 14 day figure is a 'buffer' against the 12 days, to catch ~98% of people who will develop symptoms.

It is unlikely that a large proportion of people with some kind of symptoms will go the the doctors on the first day the get the symptoms - this is not the way most people act , so additional lag there.

Actually it is very likely, because that is what people are doing. As I said in my first comment to you, we have just recently had some of the highest levels of daily testing in the last week - the figure of 7,707 was in fact the 2nd highest daily test rate ever, the previous being some 7,800 on May 8th.

Society at large is treating COVID-19 seriously even now, and are proactively getting tested when they have respiratory symptoms, even now.

If we had 10 asymptomatic carriers walking around we would have at least as many symptomatics if not more. You CANNOT make an argument like that, that is just silly.
I think it is you struggling to find something to suit your narrative, sorry.

Yes. This is a case where individual responsibility is paramount. Govt can only do so much, especially in this age of concern for human rights.

I dont know about other areas, but i know here in Christchurch anyone going to the doctors with cold or flu like symptoms is being sent for a COVID test. If it was out there in the community, it would be picked up in testing pretty quick.

Yep, my son in Auckland had a test today because he has cold symptoms.

Good to hear it easy to get tested now .

Nevertheless the number of tests run each day is not sufficient to catch a small outbreak quickly if the carriers are mostly asymptomatic.

if the carriers are mostly asymptomatic.

Thankfully this has been shown not to be the case, less than 5% of infections are *totally* asymptomatic (this is not the same as pre-symptomatic). Also asymptomatic people are much less contagious and less likely to pass it on.

It is simply false . The data from the aircraft carrier and the cruise ships is 3 months old now - plenty of time to separate pre-symptomatic cases from truly asymptomatic cases. The proportion of truly asymptomatic cases is around 50% , not 5% .

Ok, go find me some updated reports about the people on the carrier and cruise liner who developed symptoms. Off you chop. Do some googling. See how easy is it is to find ANY report about subsequent symptom development.

You will find that it is actually damn near impossible, because often the follow ups simply aren't done, or they aren't reported, and if they are reported, they're buried under all of the other news report of the original study.

Read this:

Absolutely. Van Kerkhove has told ProPublica she thinks that many cases have been misclassified as asymptomatic when in fact they were presymptomatic. (People who are presymptomatic have no symptoms when they test positive but go on to develop symptoms.) Part of the persisting confusion here stems from the fact that some people who do have mild symptoms might not fully register that they have symptoms, Van Kerkhove said at the Tuesday press conference.

Some examples of this have been documented: The CDC, for example, found that of the 13 patients in a nursing facility in Washington State who reported no symptoms when they tested positive for the coronavirus, ten went on to later develop symptoms. It’s also possible that some people who have been tested are underplaying their own symptoms or simply don’t register them. “Most of the people who were thought to be asymptomatic aren’t truly asymptomatic,” said Van Kerkhove. “When [WHO] went back and interviewed them, most of them said, ‘Actually, I didn’t feel well, but I didn’t think it was an important thing to mention. I had a low-grade temperature, or aches, but I didn’t think that counted.’”

Is this really the best you could come up with to support your silly claim that only 5% of the cases are asymptomatic ??
Where does it mention the actual estimated percentage ?

Off you chop .. find some evidence to support your claim , do some Googling.

Also note - some people do report not feeling so well while they had Covid , long after the event, when interviewed in detail . In the context of NZ border management problem it does not help - what matters is whether they were aware of it when released from quarantine ( early in many cases ).

Spot on OB. Good job so far, with a few missteps. Nothing is perfect. My view is that virus is much more widespread than officially acknowledged and we will have accept the certainty of more cases.

I think the Guardian (?) today reported an epidemologist as saying that Brazil had likely more than 10 times the reported 1m cases.

And the Daily Telegraph had this in a column:
“When the history of Covid-19 comes to be written, one issue which will need addressing is how mass fear was spread by the constant feeding of statistics by government and their agencies – figures which many people struggled to put into perspective. Here’s just a little more perspective. Germany so far has recorded 8,882 deaths from Covid 19. That is less than 1 per cent of the approximately one million people who die in Germany every year.”

Way to choose a country (Germany) that compared to its neighbors has done remarkably well in controlling COVID.

Germany so far has recorded 8,882 deaths from Covid 19. That is less than 1 per cent of the approximately one million people who die in Germany every year.”

Oh yes, this stupid (sort) of statistic again.

Here's where COVID ranks in fatality in the US between February and May, compared to the average deaths across 2014-2018. COVID-19 is the 3rd highest killer. And that's WITH all of the social distancing, lockdowns etc put in place to reduce its spread. Without them it'd undoubtedly be the #1 killer for that time of year.

Pity the PM, for the week has not started well.

Assuming the rnz item reports accurately, the PM gives a terrible performance.


Ardern attempting to deflect on the basis that we were always going to have *some* cases, which we all know, but not really addressing how we had three weeks of no cases which just happened to coincide with half-ass quarantine measures and mingling of incoming arrivals. Answer the question you can answer, even if it's not what you've actually been asked I guess.

The numbers coming in have increased, and while previously most were coming from Australia now flights have started in from heavily infected countries like India. I'm hoping that explains the sudden increase in cases, but at least they've had a warning and improved procedures.


Why are we not passing the cost of this on to the returnees?

Yes, their travel insurace should be able to cover the cost.

Very much doubt that. Insurance won't pay for most things covid, and would kiwis living overseas have had travel insurance anyhow?

Doesn't mean that returnees shouldn't be paying, though.

We should welcome anybody who comes to NZ and learn to live with Covid19.
Covid can last forever and we cannot have our border closed forever.
The extreme lockdown measure that current administration choose was wrong in the long term as we see cases today and will see them after a month.
The focus should have been maintaining number not eliminating it.


Why can't we keep the border locked down if no other countries manage to eliminate the virus? Things seem to be ticking along just fine so far.

Because being in an isolated population that is vulnerable to a common disease is very bad.

And currently things are not fine for lots of NZers.

There will be a vaccine. And it won't take forever. Quite a lot faster than that in fact.

Maybe. There is unhappy news of people getting reinfected within a few months, or not having any detectable antibodies a few weeks after getting better. If our immune systems don't have good memory for this virus then an effective vaccine may not happen.

unhappy news of people getting reinfected

Have any evidence to support that? From what I can see the most recent research shows reinfection isn't happening

There's no reason why we cant have quarantine exemptions for people who've had the disease and now have antibodies.

That's interesting, but I think the reference I posted above is pretty conclusive

From a sample of 285 people who tested re-positive:
108/285 were tested for viable virus. Not a single functional virus particle was detected!
23/285 tested for antibodies of which 96% had detectable antibodies
790 close contacts of the 285 (family friends etc) were tested and 0% had contracted the virus.

From your link: “we can largely stop worrying about reinfection and address the next big questions,” Rasmussen says. “How protective are immune responses in recovered patients, and how long does immunity last?”
And that's my point, it appears that immunity frequently doesn't last for more than weeks to months. What hope then for an effective vaccine? Are we all going to need monthly boosters forever?

Well that's a fair point. My concern is the economy. Getting tourists and students back ASAP. Seems to me that positive identification of antibodies (within a given time frame) would warrant exemption from quarantine.

That's quite a statement.

COVID19 is in the same family as SARS and MERS. 17 and 8 years after their appearance ... do we have a vaccine? What makes you so sure we will have one for COVID19? How about one for AIDS? Which has been around almost 40 years?

Vaccines take a long time to develop. If we do get one for COVID19 it will be because some researchers got really, really lucky. We can hope for the best, but we should prepare for the worst.

They did create a vaccine for SARS but it was not needed as it died out on its own.

If we cannot eliminate AIDS which requires an intimate body fluids exchange for transmission, how could we stop a virus that can stay on the touch-pad for one day or transmitted by just being at the same space? I think this virus will last for long time.

Because HIV is a highly evolved virus that directly attacks your immune systems and is excellent at hiding from it and mutates quickly?

You're really comparing apples with oranges here.

A vaccine for SARS was created but it had quite bad side effects. SARS was eradicated and so there was no further requirement to refine the vaccine.

Not sure if a MERS vaccine was ever created, but it too was eradicated.

There was never billions of dollars poured into those vaccines, and tens of thousands of scientists working on them, like there is now for COVID-19.

Maybe we won't need a vaccine, there is some evidence the virus is attenuating like the previous corona viruses before it.

Yup, just gotta be patient. Just like In 1982 the experts claimed there would be a vaccine for HIV in 2 years. We are still waiting.

HIV is a retrovirus...a whole different kettle of fish.

Retrovirus, eh. Sounds much cooler.

Yeah, I wasn't serious.

True but nevertheless, the fastest vaccine ever was Mumps 4 years. So I doubt we will see a safe & effective vaccine for COVID19 any time before 2023.
People need to be made aware of the realities of the situation so they can plan accordingly. At the moment the plan seams to be "hope" for a miracle cure in early 2021.


National: lets get those borders open, we've been çlosed too long.

If I'm looking for intelligence, perchance I'll go elsewhere.

That's a fail.

Although the bigger question is this: We are an overshot species, trashing a planet to the point where the writer of this piece won't see our her life in the manner we take for granted. Indeed, I may not either. So sometime by 2050ish, we'll be losing 3 billion of so, and will be between 3 billion and 0, by 2100. So should we let this pandemic do some of the job? Survival of the fittest and all that....

Realistically the only thing that is going to kill 3 billion people by then is either catastrophic droughts / crop failures over much of the world sustained for 24 months or so, or more pandemic illnesses.

Which are you predicting?


Unfortunately, it seems we are creeping ever closer to it.

War by itself won't kill 3 billion people, unless its nuclear. Even then, that seems extremely on the high side.

All of the above and a sprinkling of war with a nuke on top


You're following in the footsteps of the perennially wrong Paul Ehrlich an:
"irrepressible doomster ... who, as far as I can tell, has never been right in any of his forecasts of imminent catastrophe." - Reason Magazine
Human existence and standard of living continues to improve by just about every metric. Steadily declining material deprivation, improving health - except for diseases of luxury, better entertainment, and proven technology improvements promising to fix most of worlds remaining problems. Like Ehrlich your entire world view is out of step with reality.

That will be extraordinarily fleeting if we keep stuffing the planet the way we are.

That's a very tech optimist viewpoint.

Seems to me the likes of Vaclav Smil have a point though. We need to use energy for the important things and live more sustainably, and this will inevitably mean that some things that are commonplace (strawberries out of season anywhere in the world, flying internationally for a weekend, his examples) become far less common. But they're not particularly necessary luxuries for us to be spending that much energy on, compared to health care, basics of living etc.

Unbridled tech optimism seems out of step with reality too.

Film makers are not a problem for our drama queen. And americans cup people who we all Payed for fall into same box. But that person who had a 5year workpermit can get stuffed.

because one brings in funds and employs kiwis with them the other does not

And letting in the avatar crew raises the prospect of other film crews coming here that normally wouldn't, simply because it's logistically much easier to film here due to no virus.

Great pic.

We need to get a lot tougher with the people flooding into NZ.
1 All people proposing to return to NZ will be tested (is blood testing more reliable?) samples to be processed in NZ if there is any doubt about the overseas testing facilities.
You will all pay for your quarantine accommodation.
2 Genuine born here NZr's. Sure you can come back, but only by appointment and a priority list that considers your present situation and the capacity of the country to accommodate you in quarantine.
3. Overseas passport holders with NZ residency. Way further down the priority list. Even further down the list if you are in or can easily get to the country of your birth.
3 Temporary work permit visa holders. Further down the priority list again. Be aware that you will be required to leave NZ once your visa expires, no exceptions. We will have huge unemployment and the employers who say that they need these staff so desperately will have to suck it up and make a more meaningful effort with locals. So think carefully whether it is worth fighting to get back.

Yes yes. we should also check their holograms as all genuine NZ born people have such holograms. The fake NZers who were born in those places that our NZ permanent residents are often from do not have this hologram so it must be easy for our authorities to use some scan guns to weed these undesirables out. Just contact Chris if you were short on supply.

I am not born in NZ, but received NZ citizenship by living and paying tax for more than 10 years.
You mean If I am less qualified to enter NZ just because I am not born here?
My friend owns restaurants hires local people but he is way down the list because he only holds the resident visa?
Chris-M, I think this line of thinking is wrong in every possible ways.

Yes some merit there. Should we be looking at the amount of tax that you paid in say the last 5-10 years. May be aomebody who has settled here and committed to the country and paid tax here for the last 10 years should have priority over a Kiwi who has lived and paid tax in the UK for the last 10 years. When you think about it, it is a bit rich to not contribute to your home country but expect it's tax payers to pick up the pieces whenever you wish, educate your kids when you send them back to university and support you in your retirement when you return. Maybe people should be required to continue contributing some tax to NZ while they are working overseas if they wish to retain their NZ citizenship.
My main point is however that we need some sort of measure to control the flow of people into the country while we are trying to keep the virus out.

Nice - but NZ Citizens and Permanent Residents have a full legal right to return home. You cannot pick and choose which ones do so. Its also arguable that they cannot be made to pay for Quarantine either.

Non-citizens or permanent residents on the other hand - definitely should be behind in the queue and have to pay for their quarantine period.

If people have the right to be here, then that is it, they have the right to be here, we cannot do this sort of thing under international laws we live under. End. of. story. As to payment, again, anything like that depends on legalities and it is very likely that cannot force this. Maybe part payment will be able to be made, more like a koha or whatever.
As for anyone who is not a citizen or resident, we can make whatever rule we deem fit.
Some of these discussions are just utterly pointless, it is what it is, we have to get on with it as best we can.

This is like QI: nobody knows

Health officials are under pressure from the prime minister to track down the recent returnees that weren't tested for coronavirus before leaving quarantine, a week on from a border bungle.

The director-general of health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, on Monday said he remained unsure how many people left quarantine after June 9 without being tested for Covid-19, after two new Covid-19 cases last week revealed that mandatory testing was not taking place as expected.

Here is the Richardson video opinion from this morning's AM programme

“They got ahead of themselves with this whole elimination thing, they loved the adulation that they were getting from overseas”

“You created a broken system because of lack of management don’t then just fob off the blame”


You do realise you just quoted Mark Richardson, don't you? LOL

The govt deserve a lot of stick for their terrible management of quarantining, from being ridiculously late in instituting it (weeks after lockdown), to still muffing the logistics several months later. It just demonstrates, again, the competence vacuum that exists in this govt - they've proven, again, that they can't deliver on anything more complex or strenuous than signing cheques.

Isn't the business method we work umder all about measuring outcomes? What are the outcomes of our lockdown, and quarantine procedures? Current cases in the community? Zero. Has it been a success? Yes. So much of the criticism here is no more than ritual denunciation, from those whose ideological outlook would never allow them to praise anything the current government does.

This is not a tribal issue. By any reasonable viewing this government have been the worst performing in living memory (at least) in terms on their 'making stuff' programs. But on wuflu 2 months of lockdown cost 10's of billions, and only had to be so long (costing 10's of billions more in immediate and long term economic damage) because they messed around and failed to organize effective quarantining during March when it was clear that it was needed, delaying eradication by many many weeks, probably the single most expensive screwup in NZ political history. That's your 'measured outcome'.

Except your view is not reasonable, but blinkered by ideology.

Oldbloke, it's different nowadays.

mark Richardson for national party leader LOL, I thought TV3 were in financial trouble yet he comes on every morning looks like he is 1/2 asleep wakes up to do his 2 minute stint every 1/2 hour.
every now and opens his mouth and lets everyone know the village is missing their idiot

I used to really enjoy Richardson in his early days on the Crown goes Wild - but he's rapidly turning into the leader of the national party stale, pale, male cheer leading fraternity.

It’s a new low if a shock jock like MR is being quoted, once he passes the vetting process with the CCP he will surely be on the National list?

Damien Grant must be a mind reader because he wrote exactly what I'm thinking regarding COVID hysteria in NZ

In saying that I can see a positive outcome for NZ. Italian doctors are noticing a reduction in virulence and transmissiblity (see here) If NZ opens it's boarders at the right time we'll avoid the worst of the disease, and may be able to prevent the substantial drop in living standards that will result from the economic fallout of a prolonged border closure. If Jacinda Ardern pulls that off then my had goes off to her.

Damien Grant is an idiot.

That's a bit unfair. He's a right wing libertarian. Strangely I agree with his opinion in this case despite the fact that I'm a centre-left anti-neoliberal.

copied and pasted from another column.

In a weekend column, someone called Damian Grant stated that our current policy is untenable. In a quote memorable for its sheer idiocy, he noted: “At some point our concern for the welfare of Grandma is going to be overtaken by our desire to visit the Grand Canyon”.

I find it hard to believe anyone could agree with him on that.

But its generated some discussion which is all the likes of stuff and the nw zlund hirld (and Mr Grant for that matter) want, so he'll be patting himself on the back. Bear in mind he is a former resident of Rangipo and operates an insolvency business that, lets say, 'pushes the boundaries'...

Yeah that was a callous thing to write, but it’s just shock/controversy factor. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. In NZ there seems to be an overabundance of … don’t know what to call it.. righteous indignation, virtue signaling, sanctimonious behavior, and that sort of thing seems to be amplified in times of crisis. It’s really unhelpful.

Paddy Gower, who knew!

OPINION: It is time for the Government to stop making excuses and actually test travellers on arrival at the border...

Clearly the Government has decided it is too hard to test at the border. To me, that means the Government is too lazy. It should at the very least be running trials or random testing every second day.

But as we have seen with the substandard response at the border, the Government probably just can't be bothered.

To giggles from the assembled press, Gower replied: "It's hayfever."

Ardern gave a smile. "OK," she said, with a quick thumbs up.

Testing isn't very accurate though, especially if no symptoms. Can give a false sense of security.

Making it a waste of time and precious resources. Why is no-one thinking past the headline grabs?

But even if unreliable as a matter of risk management it is vastly cheaper than ambulance-at-bottom-of-cliff lockdowns. 14 day quarantines, competently managed (eg not mixing recent arrivees with older ones) remains best defense

listening to the tightened procedures it looks like now the military are finally calling the shots the structure is more in line with an army base you know what is expected and don't step out of line sunshine


Gower was roasted on twitter, by those more knowledgeable about testing and quarantine, and got rather hurt.

I wonder what the hit to the country is if we let Covid back in and we get tranmission and have to go into a level 2.5. Guessing 10's of billions more than 300 million.

At this point in the global depletion/unrepayable debt transit, money is an invalid measuring tool.

Labour are groping towards a replacement, but events will (indeed have) overtake them.

Energy and resources - the only wealth there is. All else is proxy.

The obvious, easy and cheap move, that seems to be enough on it's own to eradicate wuflu, is "everyone wear a mask in the presence of strangers. Ie in public". Drops average R0 below 1 so that even if it gets into NZ it can't spread significantly.
It paints a terrible picture of just how irrationally obtuse governments and public are that mask wearing hasn't become a legislated universal requirement.

It paints a terrible picture of just how irrationally obtuse governments and public are that mask wearing hasn't become a legislated universal requirement.

The irrationality of their detractors on social media ensures that any such universal requirement would not be complied with, due to it being a symbol of encroaching communism.


Lockdown now!! - Hosking
Get rid of the Lockdown Now!! - Hosking 3 weeks later
Lets join up with Australia now!! - National a few weeks ago - silence now
More compassionate leave - media et el a few weeks ago
Complete Quarantine at border now, no exceptions - media et el a few days ago

I think its called headless chickens wanting attention
Im just so grateful I live here - its not perfect, but what is in war, but a mile better than whats going on elsewhere.

Grateful that we aren't bigger - these same attention grabbing practices on a bigger population would be boiling away much more vigorously and be harder to keep track of. But here we all know who (for example) Hosking is, if for some reason you like him you probably also have a close friend that moderates you into not trusting him.

Jack who knew there was no quarantine count, out or in - other than the All of Government Response Team?
Why were AoGRT not able to self diagnose and self correct. Rather than parachute in the guy that had been running things inside for a month.

Same people are all there, same characters, same systems, what would you think happens next?

Still waiting to see National's policies too. So much noise with so little substance at the moment.

At this rate they will release their "comprehensive plan" weeks after they lose the election.

This site end coronavirus is worth people’s attention. I will let them speak for themselves. Timely article, the over zealous negative reporting is getting to be too much. Not sure if this is the appropriate forum, but worth a read and possibly sharing woth others you know.

The 'negative reporting' was the only real scrutiny of the government's response to date, and it uncovered huge holes in our processes.

"It does not serve the country well if it undermines the trust, confidence, compliance and cooperation and ‘kindness’ necessary for New Zealanders to work together against Covid-19."

It is not the media's job to maintain a favourable political climate for the incumbents based on feel-good sloganeering. That the government has managed to get this far in their term without a similar level of scrutiny applied to their campaign promises or the early phases of the Covid19 response plan is the real issue here.

I have no issue at all with intense scrutiny of activity and subsequent reporting. But what we've seen hasn't been quality journalism in action.

Ah the old "media are biased" argument with no proof to back it up. Usually a good one when you have no actual argument to make.

What is quite disappointing is that the media also seem to be doing the ineffectual oppositions job of providing scrutiny of the government's response as the opposition has largely been missing in action or muddled in their messaging.

Even with this bungle which should have been a home run for the opposition. National still appear to play both sides - "this should never have happened", "we would have done better" etc whilst also saying lets open the borders now and lets bring in foreign students with no 14 day mandatory isolation period. Not to mention one of their own senior MP's advocating for early release of the infamous duo that got this started in the first place.

I have been really disappointed in National, they have not taken this issue seriously and still appear to be going for soundbites over actually telling the public what and how they would do things differently. They are still doing everything reactively, time to see some proactive stuff - take the initiative and show NZ what you stand for.

Wont happen though. They really are destined to be in opposition for some time.

Journalism shouldn't be about negative or positive spins. It should be the truth, however unpopular or unsavoury.

Could not agree more. Unfortunately many only hear and read what they want to believe.

Thank you! This is the only media report I've seen which actually gives insight & a possible explanation as to why so many people were released from isolation/quarantine without being tested. Now I see the health order at that time only said they needed to be low risk. Bloomfield says "low risk" equated to "negative test result", but the order did not specify that.

The other media reports havent gone into this depth and it's a significant omission. With the military being called in I actually wondered if there had been deliberate insubordination (and maybe there was), but I see it could also have been genuine mis-communication between Bloomfield and his staff, exacerbated by a lack of clarity in the Health Order, which Jacinda has now fixed. It's still a significant cock-up but it might not be World War 3 as media commentators have made it out to be.

This is a good piece of journalism; it's informative, balanced and doesn't force all that outraged rhetoric on behalf of the public down my throat. Other journos might like to try this style of writing for a change - there's room for more actual facts and story without all the crap so many are indulging (self-indulging) in these days.