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11 new cases of Covid-19 - 9 related to Auckland cluster and 2 caught at border; St Lukes worker believed to have been on same bus as someone from Auckland cluster; Decision on alert levels due Monday

11 new cases of Covid-19 - 9 related to Auckland cluster and 2 caught at border; St Lukes worker believed to have been on same bus as someone from Auckland cluster; Decision on alert levels due Monday

There are 11 new cases of new Covid-19 in New Zealand - nine connected to the Auckland cluster, and two imported from overseas and caught in managed isolation.

Of the nine new community cases, five are church contacts and four household contacts.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said genome sequencing suggests the country’s unlinked community case, who works at St Lukes mall, may have been on the same bus as someone from the Auckland cluster.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Cabinet would make a decision on alert levels on Monday.

She said there was no reason to suggest a need for a move up alert levels, nor a change from the status quo for now. Ardern also said she would give 48 hours' notice before moving alert levels.

So Auckland is likely to remain at Level 3, and the rest of the country at Level 2, until at least 11.59pm on Wednesday August 26 - as per the original plan. 

Pattern of cases the key consideration

Bloomfield said he wouldn't only consider the number of cases when advising Cabinet on what to do, but also the pattern. In other words, whether new cases are linked to households, schools, workplaces and churches, so can be anticipated. 

Ardern said the criteria for moving alert levels includes, trends in the transmission of the virus, the capacity and capability of testing and contact tracing, the effectiveness of border measures and the capacity in the health system.

It also includes effects on local economies, at-risk populations, how people have been following rules and the ability to operationalise a new alert level.

“So much rests on activities in our biggest city this weekend,” she said, as she urged Aucklanders to continue following rules and thanked them for their "sacrifice". 

Lockdowns won't necessarily be required in the future

Ardern didn’t anticipate the country would have to go into lockdown each time community transmission was found.

She said there were factors with the Auckland cluster - the fact the outbreak was in a densely populated area and the origin couldn’t be tracked - that made a move to Level 3 necessary.

She said this move would not have been required if the only community case was the person who did maintenance work at the Rydges Hotel. This case was quickly linked to someone staying in the facility, who used an elevator minutes before the maintenance worker did.

Testing spikes

Altogether, 89 Covid-19 cases have been found in the community as a part of this second outbreak. 

There are eight people receiving hospital care. One of these people is in intensive care.

Nearly 16,000 tests were done yesterday.170,515 tests have been completed since the current alert settings began. 

Bloomfield said surge testing of border workers is all but complete, and planning for a second wave of testing next week is underway. After that, there will be programme for regular testing of border workers. 

More than 9000 applications for exemptions to cross the Auckland border have been received. Over 4000 were processed yesterday and more than 1200 have been approved. 

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83 Comments

No great surprise on the decision. Hopefully still tracking for release next Wednesday, though I presume no school until the following Monday (31st).

Loved JA trolling Trump though.

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Me too. It must be said though that Trump is almost a too easy target. I almost pity him - an orange-haired, self-inflated chump whose relationship with reality and truth has always been particularly problematic, and whose astonishing ignorance verges on the epic.

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But he is in the chair. But only because the GOP, so desperate for power and the rewards of power, had to nominate him as they were terrified he would run as an independent and split off their vote. It really is an indictment on the state of play in the USA. Hell, to proclaim you will reduce the number of CV19 cases by reducing the number of tests is quite frankly the reasoning of a simpleton.

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Simpleton with a certain knack for populist campaigning, unfortunately.

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Agree... oh, wait.. you were talking about Trump?

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LD 3 in Auckland may be extended by one more week, going by the lack of progress in identifying the sources and containing the spread. Daily case numbers are not encouraging.

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Bloomfield explicitly said that even if we had similar numbers of new cases over the weekend, that wouldn't necessarily prevent us lowering levels on Wednesday.

They take into account the pattern and other data around the new cases, eg whether they are family contacts, work contacts, school or other known gathering contacts, not just simply the number of new cases.

So if over the weekend we had 10 new cases each day, but they all fit into those easily explained categories, that would not be a particular barrier to the lockdown being lifted.

It does mean that if new cases such as the St Luke's one which couldn't be readily linked back to the main cluster, those ones would be of concern.

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Guess it will depend on the new infections now emerging, case by case, the history where they have been and who they have met. Reminds me a bit as a kid trying to work out the construction tracks in a spider web. It might well be that they wait until there are no new community cases at all emerging, if not that then they are going to need to be very confident as to the extent of where exactly the cluster is localised and that they have it under control and contained therein.
ps. it would be good to know though exactly who, where and how the spider started spinning.

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Extension to the 30th wouldn't surprise me. 4 days more lockdown for the loss of two trading days.

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Although for retail and cafes, the hardest hit industries, that's 4 trading days still. And generally weekends are their biggest takes as well.

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True. Still wouldn't surprise me!

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I just don't think the govt cares about these industries anymore. As far as they are concerned retail can move online in the new normal. Cafes, bars & restaurants are basically doomed.

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Everything in the large cluster links back to workers at the Americold facility. Is the govt going to continue to test all workers at this workplace when it is up and running again? Is there an investigation unit that will be following up and monitoring this facility in the future? We need to know how it happened to stop it happening again.

If there is a vector of transmission that is lying low because of all the attention right now then there needs to be a trap to catch it when it re-emerges.

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Who says the person at Americold was patient zero? It could be they got it off someone.. went to work and it spread at Americold.

They could have got it off the bus on the way to work at Americold... and then at Friday night drinks ended up spreading it.

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Exactly, and therein lies the critical point. Until zero is known, too much is unknown.

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Well not necessarily. They never found the index for some of the clusters in the first wave. But certainly it would help.

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Patient zero is a bat in China

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he has more data than us so i am guessing those tested positive are already identified through contract tracing and already on 14 day isolation.
the problem will be making sure that happens and they stay in lockdown as we move up levels, as we saw in the past the police did not check people last time, maybe this time we should send around armed forces to check they stay home
the other worrying thing was the guy from ST lukes catching on a bus trip, and the maintenance guy catching in a lift both could have been very quick contacts

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Sounds like it could be easy to catch from surfaces eh. Coughs on hand. Grips pole of seat back while boarding. Another touches the surface, then touches face.

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NZ is doing so well by nipping it early. Unlike Victoria, a few days delay can turn around the game!

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Yes, moving quickly is so important. I have to say, and I’m not a natural Labour voter, just how impressive Jacinda Ardern is. A truly great crisis leader. We are so lucky to have her at the helm.

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pukes... I'd give her a 1/10 so far. Her government doesn't seem to think about the secondary effects of anything.
Poverty (1/10) She's the minister for child poverty, but poverty is ramping up from bad to worse. IMHO Simply reducing tobacco tax could have reduced child poverty. Gun Laws (0/10) replicating gun registry laws that have already failed in Canada costing the Canadians 2 billion dollars and achieving zilch. Higher Education (1/10) A non-targeted money hand out to first-year university students provides the wrong incentives. COVID19 (1/10) Eliminating Tourism and foreign education, combined with lockdowns and wasting crown money on unproductive quarantines will go down as the worst economic screw up in NZ's history. The downstream effects will be enormous. Draconian laws rammed through parliament (COVID-19 public health response bill) bring NZ closer to being some sort of police state, and I doubt that the powers will be withdrawn any time soon. Anyone who points out the obvious, that countries like Sweden or Japan have done well without costly restrictions, well those people just get this response.

No but you're right Pietro, it's really good that she moved quickly. Because moving quickly is surely better that thinking about where you're moving to?

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It looks like all you read is ACT and National party press releases!

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I don't like the National party or ACT. National just falls over itself to sell everything to the Chinese, and ACT are an even more hardcore neoliberal party. My thoughts are my own.

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Pat, you're not even in NZ, so you're relying on the media for your assumptions.
If you were actually in NZ you would know that the majority of people value their health above all else.
Sadly for you, Labour will get re-elected in a landslide.

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1. Perhaps not living in New Zealand gives me a broader perspective.
2. "Valuing health above all else", as you say, is a great woke virtue-signaling soundbite. However if you think about it for half a second you'll realise "health above all else" is NOT a reasonable or rational course of action. If it was then car speed limits would be set at 20 km/h.
3. I'm not anti-Labour. In fact I voted for Labour during the last election to remove John Key who I perceived as ruining the lives of non-home owning Kiwis in Auckland by virtue of turning a blind eye to wealthy Chinese who were snatching all the upper-quartile real estate. I'm just frustrated with a litany of shot sighted policy decisions. It's not just me, it's all New Zealanders who'll lose if the government makes mistakes with the economy.

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The comparison between Melbourne and Auckland is telling. Melbourne went for half measure followed by half measure and ended up with a six+ week lockdown. Auckland took the first crack in the armour seriously and (touch wood) will be out of level 3 next week, while the lockdown in Melbourne carries on (and its economy keeps suffering) until 13 September.

And despite that, there are still people on here (and in the Stuff comments, on Facebook, etc) complaining that we're going about this all wrong.

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One of the good traits of JA is that she's very decisive. She possesses none of that "Can I check with my mom" nonsense!

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Yea,.. that said.. I think there have been 180+ commissions, taskforces, reviews and roundtables established. I really liked her decisiveness on the CGT... wait for the review to be complete.. then decisively put it all in the bin.

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and decisive on the Labour Youth sex scandal cover up

and decisive on David Clark, and on Iain Lees-Galloway and Claire Curran... and Kiwibuild...

You know... maybe not so decisive after all.

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And the O&G Captain's Call.....

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That just looks a bit bitter and twisted, searching for things to be angry about.

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To me the Covid response is similar to Kiwibuild - over promise and under deliver.

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i think the comparison between auckland and sydney or queensland are a better comparison, sydney more open than us but touch wood do seem to have under control, queensland with closed borders and aussies being themselves sneaking across also have it under control

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"Not necessarily the case that have to have a lockdown L3 each time you have an outbreak"
Plus: research out today (on interest) showing that fear of infection, as opposed to lockdown, is greatest impact on economic detrimental effect. So, as soon as fear can be removed by controlling outbreak, earlier economy can get moving again.
So, double tick for Labour and nothing for Judith.
God, another 8 weeks til Jacinda wins by a country mile.
Meanwhile National's one tool is to try to portray "failure" of government; failure being the best performance on the planet and 8500 border tests and ONE positive.
Judith has had it I am afraid, because 10% of middle of road female voters between about 37-55 have decided she is a nasty back sniping negative person with nothing but scorn and bitterness to offer.

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You keep saying this 8,500 border workers and ONE positive line. There is still no current regular testing of border workers in effect - it's coming soon, but if it wasn't for journalists asking pointed questions, we'd still be none the wiser. If you want to hand out ticks for stuff only happening because people started actually questioning the 'absolute truth' they were being spun at 1pm every day, then fire away.

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The tests have been done
Media whined for this and now results are out and you refuse to admit that “botch up” as Jenna Lynch called it, did not cause outbreak

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The test results are taking five days to even get processed. Frozen goods have been ruled out as the cause. The only thing left is a false negative (I have long thought and stated this was likely) or a botch-up (would have said less likely up to this week but now I can't be sure of anything they say). However, until you find the source, you can't emphatically say that there hasn't been a breach.

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we will never know unless they do blood tests to make sure you dont have a carrier that has recovered
it still points to 99% coming through the border somehow whether that be ship or plane as it is not a genome that was already here but in the UK and melbourne

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You're arguing with someone who wants to give double-ticks for Labour because even though there have been enormous stuff ups, it just hasn't had any consequences. I'm guessing they don't have to worry about how they're going to make payroll or keep a business afloat and it doesn't really effect them if the Government just keeps relying on luck to get us out of Covid19 tight spots.

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As for pointy questions by Media you really have to worry about the lack of knowledge by both media and the politicians and health bureaucrats as exemplified by the mystery surrounding the maintenance worker at the quarantine hotel. Why did no one--not a journalist in attendance -not challenge Bloomfield and say "how can you discount the fact that the American victim with Covid could have quite simply spread the virus by walking down the hallway or elevator and breathing-Period!. Yet for days and days this likely route of transmission was not even brought into question. Most transmission occurs just this easily. Touching things less likely and airbourne reception into your eye sockets far more likely way to spread the disease. That's why EYE and Mask protection is a must I would have thought for anyone in or near these quarantined guests.

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Isn't wonderful, the way every man and his dog have become experts in infection control?

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That's a bit uncalled for, maybe people are reading up out of an uncomfortable sense that we're winging it still.

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oldbloke1,

Quite right. We are all experts now. A little humility would not be out of place, but that's not our style. Either Jacinda/Bloomfield are the best thing since sliced bread or utterly useless. Some of us know beyond any doubt that Sweden has handled it better while others know that their approach has failed.

It's so much easier to be certain of things than admit to a degree of uncertainty. I do sometimes wish that I had that degree of certainty-it would stop me having to think. However, I can be absolutely certain that Trump is a truly appalling human being. Lock him up!

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Labour has certainly failed. All we had to do was lock down the border and test. We have a moat around us for goodness sake. Meanwhile the housing market goes gangbusters as people chase capital because term deposits returns have dropped as a result of the base rate being lowered to help the economy. Labour will be known for its failure over house prices, child poverty and its inability to get it right with border controls. Why do we always have inept politicians and I include National MPs in that category.

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Think it might be remembered more for its success in tackling Covid. Best in the world to date, whether that fits your politics or not.

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" Best in the world to date" - simply not true , even if one does not consider the natural advantages NZ has as a remote ,sparsely populated island.
Taiwan , Vietnam , Thailand to name a few have all done better. So curb your JA worship.

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So we're only in the top 5 in the world then.

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which is a different statement - and also a false one considering all the geographical advantages we have .

If you want to neglect that , consider that every island in the world , however small , that had no cases is "better" than us by your definition. There are hundreds of those . Cook islands did "better" than us etc. etc.

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What are the privacy laws like in those countries? How authoritarian and dictatorial are their governments? What's the general culture like?

Clearly we're the only western culture country to achieve what we have.

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All right , let us keep shifting those goalposts ... we have done the best among all L&P loving , feijoa growing , JA- led countries in the whole world.

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Why restrict yourself to such an unnecessarily narrow definition?

We're in the top 5 in the world, and top when it comes to western countries. No need to be more specific than that.

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We are not top 5 in the world ..we are possibly one of the best or even the best in the western world - but no other western country is a sparsely populated island at the end of the world - which is the sole reason for our relative success.

Simple question : have Cooks have done better than us or worse ?

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As they have had 0 cases, they have done worse at eradication than us.

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I see .. you are only good at controlling it if you muck about long enough to let it in the first place.
According to your post any place that had no cases has done worse with us .
Keeping the borders open was all a canning plan by JA to make sure we can do well .

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Australia is sparsely populated for their landmass. They are also an island.
Believe or not, most of our population lives in urban areas not too dissimilar to a lot of the western world.

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I'd timestamp that.. they way this govt continues to bungle up the border control

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How have Vietnam done better? They got a second wave. NZ eliminated it, and haven't had a second wave, we have a contained cluster.

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They share a long border with China and have almost 100M people (~ NZ times 20 ) - yet just over 1K Covid cases ( less than NZ ) .
How is that not better ?

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They also have more coronaviruses in the bat populations that live in Vietnam than China itself does. It is likely their population has some level of pre-existing resistance to these sorts of illnesses.

There's also the suggestion that this virus actually originated in Vietnam to begin with (see above evidence for why) and then broke out in China once it came into contact with populations that didn't have the pre-existing levels of resistance speculated to exist in Vietnam. This virus seems very well suited for transmission amongst humans already, whereas SARS and MERS previously were not particularly infectious and burned themselves out very quickly. That suggests this particular virus, or its recent ancestors, may already have been spreading amongst humans for some time.

If you want to go on about special geographic advantages held by NZ, you need to also consider special flora and fauna advantages held by Vietnam in your analysis.

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Now that ( pre-existing immunity in the population .. ) is an interesting ( if totally unproved ) theory - more research needed.
Not what the post I was responding to was raising at all though ..

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I didn't say immunity, I said resistance, and that it is speculated.

https://thestandard.org.nz/covid-19-a-human-adapted-virus/

My point is you're coming up with reasons why NZ isn't so special, yet hold up Vietnam as being better than us. So just giving you some reasons why maybe Vietnam isn't so special either.

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i saw in a report a lot of people contain T cells ready to fight the virus so people in asia whom have had more contact with covid diseases maybe able to fight off better. thats just a guess as i have not seen research but when you look at the death per million and infection rates asia does better than most
https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/300087915/scientist…

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and the only thing you could come up with is a speculative ( as per your own description ) hypothesis ?

Let us grant that - may be Vietnam does have a natural advantage in the form of pre-existing `resistance / partial immunity to Covid19.
Why does this matter if our natural advantage of being a far away island like to other Western country does not when comparing to that set ?

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You are making some good points. But it's hard to break through the patriotic, self congratulatory mindset that has infected kiwis.

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Perhaps the current outbreak will have tempered that with a little caution.

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But their testing is terrible compared to NZs, so they may have cases that just haven't been picked up due to a lack of testing. They have only tested 8000 people per million, but NZ has tested 135,000 per million. Huge difference.
But there has been suggestions that Vietnam may have some immunity to it, possible from previous illnesses many generations ago, especially as they are on a border with China. So that could be helping to prevent people getting it or spreading it, which is down to luck.

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Don't think we have the level of civic sense to work as they have, currently. I see far too many on Facebook ranting that Comrade Jacinda (simultaneously a communist and a fascist) in her exhortation to wear masks to keep others safe is as bad as Hitler and death camps. Masks = tattoos on the wrist equivalent.

I am unfortunately not kidding or exaggerating. I wish I was.

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Does Labour control house prices?...I thought it was cashed up Boomers and the central banks working hand in hand?

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Tell it to all who blamed John Key ( also known as the devil incarnate ) for not controlling house prices ..

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I don't see a long term isolation policy working, eventually we need to move to managed containment.
Anyone really believe we can isolate for a year or two in the hope of a vaccine

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Not easy - but possible for a year or maybe even two . We are learning and adjusting as we go ( too slowly .. but we are ) .

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Learning and adjusting, quite so. Could then this herald some sort of involuntary reset of our society and economy? As a small player NZ has always undertaken a reactive policy as world events have unfolded. There is now both reason and opportunity to arrive at greater self dependence wherever it might be both available and viable.

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As long as the 'reset' doesn't involve Mining anything (verboten), Burning anything (verboten), GE-ing anything (except Vital Medicines like insulin), CRISP'ing any pest into local extinction (Cue distant cheering from Possums, stoats, weasels and wasps), Shooting anything (haram), and ...it's a long and depressing list.....

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Yep, hence “available.” But you will recall we had secondary production. Cotton = LWR, Lichfield, Deanes; Rubber = Skellerup, Para, Reid, Steel = Burts, Andrews & Beaven, Glass/Ceramics = Crown Lynne, Ceramco. All employers, all employees engaged, spending and paying tax. OK take away the exclusive elitist import licensing of old, there must be some beneficial equation of keeping people in the game versus sitting idle dependant on gov handouts.

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If Labour keep this bumbling up they might need to postpone the election again... then we can never get rid of them...oh.. I see.

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Uh. You know it was the opposition braying for the delay, right?

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They called it.. so did Winston.. and Jacinda happily obliged on the basis she is hoping she can put this stuff up back in the box before election day

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Yeah, brilliant plan by her to conspire to get Judith etc. to push for moving the election out. She's crafty, that Jacinda.

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Plot from Oops Apocalypse.

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And allowing a covid resurgence to delay by a month an election in which you were going to wipe the floor with the opposition. Definitely a scheming master stroke.

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If the election was not so close we would already be in a level 4 lockdown. Labour is in damage control mode they know they cannot slam us again or they will lose votes. They are just living in hope that the genie goes back in the bottle as quickly as possible.

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COVID-19 is certainly not a hoax, but it is certainly overblown in global political/media circles. The problems in society today, are to a large extent, the lack of debate on key issues. It has reached the point, if you question the consensus narrative, you are a conspiracy theorist. Telling the truth today is a dangerous business.

The World Health Organisation in 2018 reported that 7.5 million people died from respiratory infections, including flu, pneumonia, bronchitis, emphysema, COPD and tuberculosis. So far, in 2020 we have had considerably less than 1 million deaths attributed to COVID-19, of which, many of those deaths have since proven to be falsified.

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