The forthcoming decision as to when we should move to COVID Level 3 is high risk, with expectations high, but not enough information for confident decision making

The forthcoming decision as to when we should move to COVID Level 3 is high risk, with expectations high, but not enough information for confident decision making

The decision the New Zealand Government makes on Monday 20 April is likely to be the defining decision as to how history assesses the Ardern Government. There appear to be two options on the table. Do we go to LEVEL 3 on 23 April or do we stay in LEVEL 4 for another two weeks?

For each option there are two potential outcomes: success or failure.

There are also two criteria by which history will measure success or failure.  First, did the decision lead to eradication of COVID-19 within New Zealand? Second, did the decision lead to the minimisation of economic damage?

If history shows that the Government got it right, then Prime Minister Ardern will identified by many as the greatest New Zealand leader of all time. But if history says she got it wrong, then the current gloss will fade.

On a world scale, New Zealand is in an enviable position. China, Australia, South Korea and Taiwan are the only other nations with prospects of eradicating the virus in the short-term. My bet right now is that Taiwan is going to get there first. More of that later.

Japan and Singapore looked promising for a while, but both are now experiencing COVID-19 breakouts.

LEVEL 4 has been working well despite the mis-steps

In the five weeks since Prime Minister Ardern announced on 14 March that we were going ‘hard and early’ I have been generally optimistic that eradication was feasible. However, I have also been nervous as to whether we would get there. One day after the Prime Minister’s ‘hard and early’ announcement, in what was my fourth COVID-19 article and writing from high in the Canadian Rockies, I expressed the reservation that only time would tell if Jacinda had gone early enough.

Some two weeks earlier my wife and I had decided as a matter of community responsibility that we were going to self-isolate on our return from Canada, regardless of the official rules, and despite minimal cases of COVID-19 in Canada at that time. I was therefore appalled to see Air New Zealand putting on special wide-body jets from Australia on the evening of 15 March so people could beat the self-isolation requirements, and with the government extending the deadline so those flights could pour into New Zealand in the early hours of 16 March.

As I saw the glee with which my fellow Kiwi citizens exalted at their success in beating the self-isolation deadline, I could only say to myself, ‘these people do not understand what is happening’.

Since then there have also been some mis-steps around the management of self-isolation for those who arrived thereafter.

To put that into perspective, Taiwan has had (as of 18 April) 345 returnees who brought COVID-19 into the country, but they only passed that on, directly or indirectly to 50 additional people. In contrast, New Zealand had by that date 550 people who brought COVID-19 into the country but they passed it on, directly or indirectly to more than 850 people.

The difference reflects the fact that the Taiwan Government knew what they were doing whereas New Zealand had to start from scratch with almost no systems in place. This was despite knowing for months that COVID-19 was coming.

New Zealand has also had multiple problems with the supply and use of PPE, despite ongoing affirmations from Ministry of Health that supply was not an issue. Once again, the systems were not in place and health workers, particularly care-workers in rest-homes were inadequately trained in its use.

A consequence of this is that as at 18 April we have more than 60 health workers who are presumed to have been infected in the workplace.  This includes a large number of rest-home carers. This gets me more than a little angry.

Despite all of those issues, and another big one that I will soon come to, I have remained optimistic. Once LEVEL 4 was in place, I estimated that once the cases peaked some 10 to 14 days later, then we would see a decline of approximately 50 percent in new cases in each of the following weeks. Broadly speaking, that is what has been happening.

That estimate of halving the new cases each week did not come out of thin air. Under LEVEL 4, I thought we would get an R value, this being the number of people each infected person subsequently infects, of around 0.5 and an average transmission cycle of around one week.  I based the likely R value on what we were seeing happening in China.

Putting all of the politics and uncertainties aside, there was incontrovertible evidence coming from many independent sources that China was stamping hard and was smashing the epidemic. I estimated their R value was down to about 0.3 or maybe even lower.  I figured we might therefore be able to get to about 0.5 with our LEVEL 4.

Given the clear trend that we have now seen for some two weeks, I have been able to retain my optimism despite the mis-steps. Also, it has been exhilarating to see how almost everyone has worked hard to make it happen.  It reminded me somewhat of some events in my younger days when I was involved in mountain search and rescue, and how great things could be achieved when everyone worked together driven by need and team spirit.

Success at LEVEL 3 will be more challenging with less room for mis-steps

Right now, I am struggling to retain my optimism. I am scared that we are going to go into LEVEL 3 before we are ready. In particular I reflect on the fact that there are currently more than 550 active cases (confirmed and probable) capable of starting community transmission. I am also concerned that the decision to open day-care facilities and schools up to Year 10 as part of any move to LEVEL 3 has been made without sufficient consideration as to the risks.

Once again, I go back to my mountaineering days in various parts of the world, and the way we assessed risks. In my case, I got away with it, or else I could not be writing this now, but I also often reflect that there was an element of chance involved. And I know that for many in that mountaineering community, including many friends, their luck did run out.  Over the years I have become more conservative in my decision-making where life and limb are involved.

My current thinking is that any move to LEVEL 3 without another two weeks at LEVEL 4 puts everything at risk. It does seem like Russian roulette.

If we are to go to LEVEL 3 then my plea would be that it should be LEVEL 3+, with schools remaining shut for at least another two weeks.

In recent weeks I have been impressed by the ability of our Prime Minister to stay on top of the issues and also to communicate those issues to the rest of us. But this time, it seems she might be getting some poor advice from people who do not understand the realities of school situations. There also seem to be some messaging issues as to the specifics of the education proposals.

We need to think carefully about this. Young children are not particularly at risk themselves from the effects of COVID-19 but they have great capacity to be either pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic transmitters of COVID-19. Also, the idea that they can be in their own school bubble isolated from other bubbles, and with social distancing, is greatly flawed. School and home bubbles will overlap and that provides a big transmission pathway.

If we get it wrong, and there is a new outbreak of COVID-19, then there is likely to be no way back. With our current outbreak, we knew where it was coming from. In contrast, if there is a second wave then it will come at us from within the community and we will have no point of attack.

In that case, we will at best be in the same situation as Sweden, which has had delayed build-up of cases but is now on an exponential curve and has already experienced over 1400 deaths with nearly 400 of those deaths over the last three days. To put that in perspective, Sweden has about twice the population as New Zealand, so it would be like us having had about 700 deaths to date.

Right now, if there is any light at the end of the Swedish COVID-19 tunnel, it is not daylight. Rather, it is the headlight of an accelerating COVID-19 train.  All they can do is try and slow it down. As with everywhere in Europe, eradication would be a forlorn hope.

The question I ask right now, is why would we risk everything by going to LEVEL 3 too quickly?  Another two weeks would be tough for some, but it would give us a further chance to stamp real hard and also to get better systems in place for when we do emerge from LEVEL 4.

The testing program remains muddled

That brings me to another current frustration, and that relates to the surveillance program we are now undertaking. The level of testing that has been occurring in recent days in Queenstown and Christchurch, and now Waikato and Auckland, is only scratching the surface of what is needed to assess whether COVID-19 is circulating out there in the community. How can the Ministry of Health claim that this will provide guidance for the forthcoming decision of whether to move to LEVEL 3?

To illustrate this point, let’s assume that there might be 100 people in the community currently with infective COVID-19 that we do not know about.  That means that these people comprise one person out of 50,000 in the general population. Now let’s assume that we do 10,000 surveillance tests of that population. What is the chance that we will find at least one of those 100 people?

The answer is approximately one chance in five, or 18.1% to be more precise. The maths behind this is not particularly complex, based on sampling from a finite population, and a good year-13 student at scholarship level for maths or statistics could work that out in less than five minutes.

In reality, it seems that the Ministry of Health will only have at best about 1500 surveillance test results available on Monday. The probability of finding a positive COVID-19 sample with that number of tests, still assuming there are 100 positive infective cases in the population, now drops to just under three percent.  In other words, the value of these community-based tests in providing guidance as to whether we are ready to move to another level is zero.

Despite this, there is an important place for COVID-19 testing.  But the first place to start is with close contacts. It is also important to include antibody (serology) testing as well as swab (PCR) testing. As long as the community testing only uses swabs, then the numbers that can be tested are too low to find out the true story.

The question then becomes, given the messages coming from the Ministry of Health, as to whether Ministry of Health actually has anyone with mathematical skills on their technical panel. The answer may well be that they don’t.

As to why that might be the case, the technical expertise needed to guide a COVID-19 program draws on multiple disciplines. It needs an understanding of epidemiology, virology, immunology, statistics, and program management. These are all different knowledge sets. It may well be that there are gaps in the team.

Also, the specifics of COVID-19 surveillance are very different to the normal sentinel surveillance undertaken routinely by Ministry of Health, which Director General Ashley Bloomfield has been referring to in recent days.

The normal sentinel testing is to obtain guidance as to the approximate level of particular diseases in the community, such as common flu, and identify those diseases and specific infectious agents that are at high levels. That is very different to the situation with COVID-19 where we are trying to find out whether there are any needles still in the haystack, and we know that there only has to be one needle there for disaster down the track. It requires a whole new way of thinking.

Risk and payoff decisions when flying blind

To conclude, I want to come back to the issue of risk and payoff.

Regardless of the decisions that are made, there are no guarantees. Scientists like working with data but with COVID-19 there are big gaps in that data.

I recall one of my colleagues from University of Queensland a long time ago, who had below the name-plate on his door a sign saying “In God we trust. Everyone else must bring data”.

The problem right now is that we do have to make decisions despite insufficient data. Hence, no one is an expert and we are all learners. 

There is a range of decision frameworks taught in business schools that can assist the decision making. Nevertheless, there can be no avoidance of subjectivity in the assessment of risks and benefits from alternative options.

It is therefore true that so-called experts can inform components of the decision, but no-one can take away the burden of the ultimate decision-maker. It will come down to an informed but subjective judgement.

So, I say again, with COVID-19 there are no experts on which decision-makers can rely and hide behind. Our Prime Minister is the ultimate decision maker.

In that context, the way I read the disparate and at times conflicting sources of information, and how I then read the tea leaves, is that we should not risk the sacrifices of the last four weeks by shifting-down too early. Please, Prime Minister, don’t be unduly influenced by those who would risk all for short-term gain at this time.

At the very least, give us a LEVEL 3+ for a couple of weeks before any final decisions are made about returning children to school and day-care.  Also, please tighten up on all of those close contacts of existing active cases.  Every one of them must be in their personal equivalent of a tight LEVEL 4, staying only within the home.  

The short-term economic benefits from a premature LEVEL 3 will seem trivial if the consequence is an explosive COVID breakout, and we miss the goal of eradication.


*Keith Woodford was Professor of Farm Management and Agribusiness at Lincoln University for 15 years through to 2015. He is now Principal Consultant at AgriFood Systems Ltd. . He can be contacted at kbwoodford@gmail.com. Keith’s previous COVID-19 articles are available here.

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337 Comments

21
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Will the government be able to make independent decession without being under pressure - have doubts as national party and its supporters be it in media or so called experts have already started lobbying / putting pressure on government.

National and its supporters are able to sing a song only because of action by government and are trying to potray otherwise.

Real Shame.

22
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Not enough information. That is the question and that is the answer and that is the rub. Iceland has tested per head of population the greatest ratio by far. And thus revealed people moving around with CV19 but with no symptoms, each one a potential carrier. South Korea now has recovered patients re-infecting, each one a potential carrier. There is less known about this virus than what is is known. All of our lives are at stake. Safeguarding livelihoods ain’t no use if you are not around to participate. This government here in NZ has the integrity and backbone to put the protection of its people on the mat as the first priority. Thank god for that.

18
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Yes we have to be really careful how quickly we relax those regulations down to Level 3. As much as I would like to see that happen as soon as possible, I really do not want to see a second wave/surge of infections putting peoples lives at risk. It may be best to wait a few weeks or at least tighten up the Level 3 restrictions. We only need to look at what is going on around the world it see second waves of infection hitting countries that are trying to bend to public pressure.

Ok sure, but why are we still getting infections four weeks after lockdown.
Is the bubble thing not working?
If it is then why quarantine the entire country.
Am I missing something..

Likely to be various reasons like some people not adhering to Government guidelines regarding lockdown.

Caleb, if you get to the bottom of this article it has graphs for the various simulations and the different R0's achieved with different levels of intervention. Using a household lockdown achieves an R.0 of 1-1.5 so the virus is greatly slowed and restricted but not stopped. But with super market trips, exercise outside (no matter how local), essential workers etc, there isn't a complete 100% quarantine. Which would be the only way to achieve the R0 of 0. If you look at the google stats also, 40% of people are still going to work places.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-01003-6

because we kept allowing people into the country -- and wandering home to self isolate with no controls -- many of whom and i mean hundreds had teh virus - who infected hundreds more -- and with an incubation period for each - thats easily into three weeks -- if symptoms did exist -

Check the data -- infection after infection about 500-- from overseas arrivals from the 20th mar - 4th april -- and 800 further cases linked to these travellers -- the internal measures are working extremely well - as is contact tracing -- the error was not closing the border quick enough -- and not ensuring those coming in were quarantined and monitored - not left to self isolate -- we did it with teh first cruise ship passengers -- should have done it with everyone after that -- = out of lockdown already

Also - if we do eradicate it -- no need for a L3 or L2 -- all we need to do is keep border quarentine properly - as it wont reappear without a foreign introduction

11
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In this situation pople need to get over the us and them Labour V National train of thought. It is about the best call that has the highest chance of the best outcome for the bulk of NZ both health and economy wise.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/global-health/science-and-disease/taiwans-vi...

Up to the minute and we’ll worth a read. The guy’s a politician and a renowned epidemologist.

Japan now has a resurgence, new wave, we are in serious danger of becoming complacent due to what appears like a recovery/reduction and opening the doors too early. Other countries show the same and it is way too early to be thinking smugly that we beat it.
lets close this down, keep the L4 lockdown in place for minimum of another 2 weeks, not allow any new expansion of infections to arise.

Simon will be briefed along with everyone else then try to sneak a press conference in an hour or so before official announcements to call for the actions to take place. Important to try to look to be out there ahead of things. A la lockdown.

He will need at least an hour's head start given how slow and simple he talks.

30
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I reckon they extend by a week (if not two) to get past ANZAC weekend and reassess on the 28th or Monday after that. There's way too many cases still being found to drop to level 3 yet.

Lesson's from Hokkaido: BBC News - Coronavirus lockdown: Lessons from Hokkaido's second wave of infections
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-52305055

We'd be mad to step regions down from level four until we're at least a week clear of any Locally acquired infections.

I agree that the government will want to extend the lockdown (Level 4) until after the ANZAC weekend, since this is traditionally a time when a lot of people move around the countryside.

24
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Let's see... worst forecast was 40'000 deaths, we have 11 (not 11 thousand, eleven, with average age of 78), less than 20 new infections a day… at the same time the lockdown is destroying our country and throwing it into a deep recession, which experts say leads to a tripling of mental health issues, depression and suicides. So at our current suicide rate of 685pa = 1'370 more suicides, the majority 18-25 year old. Also we know a recession dramatically increases inequality, meaning mostly the poor will suffer most.
Hmmm, tough choice… nah... full lockdown for another 4 weeks, can never be too sure

Wonder who plays god then. The lady of the lamp or the accountant.

The accountant. The lady of the lamp needs cash to buy oil.

13
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Yvil, I've never heard you express such concern for mental health or inequality before. It really warms the cockles that the pandemic has brought you to a more compassionate stance.

I wholeheartedly agree, that it's very important to consider mental health issues, although they are always complex and unpredictable. The most vulnerable groups to suicide in the youth of NZ are actually marginalised groups. The gay, trans and similarly "othered" communities who are bullied and ostracised. As yet, there would be no reason to assume that these groups would be suffering more in the pandemic than not. We have no data on it yet. Other causes of mental health crisis is stress and trauma. Of course, much stress is suffered in the work place , so work stress is potentially replaced by financial stress. And loss of a loved one is just as much a trauma as losing a job. So the picture is very nuanced and no easy assumptions should be made. It is also possible to hypothesise that any shock or global crisis like this pandemic would invariably cause increased levels of mental health and suicide regardless. Similar to how all the credible and respected data so far on the economics, also suggests that the recession caused by taking non-response to the virus would eventually end up being much worse and for much longer, than the current degrees of restrictions.

Unemployment, at least in people who want to work, is considered to be as stressful as a prison term or marriage breakup. Have you seen the unemployment predictions? Up to 20%+ in some models. You use the term ‘non response’. That is a worst case scenario that no government would contemplate and figures resulting from it, ie a death toll in the tens of millions, are plain daft, and scaremongering. The biggest change from level four to level three, is a move from essential business to safe business. If it’s safe, what’s the problem? In fact, what was the problem in the first place?

pietro fyi no wise lady anymore than any good person would trust any accountant for what was needed to be done, humanitarian or not. Read your history, be less flippant. The lady of the lamp used a fanoos lantern, in which was a candle.

You still have to buy candles... My point is that without surplus value, altruism is impossible.

49
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40K deaths was / is the forecast under the scenario of the virus being allowed to run unchecked. The fact that we only had 11 so far under strict lock down condition of course does not make that prediction wrong ; you are well aware of that I am sure. So a mindless rant ; disappointing coming from you .

20
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bravo!

13
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paashaas, do you really believe the lockdown has saved 39'989 lives... a mindless post, disappointing of you

But they control us through fear !

"People are so gullible huh? "
"You think so? "
"Yeah especially if you put fear into them, they'll believe and do anything"
"Like what?"
"Well... I reckon if you tell people there's something out there that could kill them, they'll do anything to avoid it"
"Really, like what? "
"Yeah mate, I reckon people will give up their freedom, their fun, seeing their loved ones..."
"Nah, no way"
"I bet people will even give up their jobs and their businesses"
"Nope, no way, people are not that stupid!"
"Shall we find out?

https://youtu.be/UYexFRUoGww
London Real interview

Sure, a big conspiracy set up by the so called scientists and the liberal media. All in aid of... wait how exactly does anyone get a net benefit from what is going on?

13
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So here's the question: what would Prime Minister Yvil have done 4 weeks ago?

11
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Possibly to your surprise, I think J Ardern has done very well. Hard and early was a good call but I think we're now at a stage where we are strangling our economy and we must return to level 2 (yes two) asap. PS, "the Economy" is an abstract word to many. What a deep recession really means is more people living in poverty, the poor getting poorer, more mental health problems, more suicides in simple terms more misery. IMO we need to seriously protect the elderly now and and get to level 2 for everyone else

13
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two senerios
would you stay at level 4 until after Anzac weekend? by that time we should have no new cases inside nz, only those still returning or in bubbles a short level three maybe two weeks to a month tops then level 2
or would you go to level 3 now for a longer period? maybe two to three months before we can be sure to move to level two.
i think the goal is to get to level two the quickest way we can and that will revive the economy, level three will be a slow death of a thousand cuts
and im glad i dont have to make that decision and that is the decision they will be making this wekend

I agree Yvil - I'm not sure what the end game is, given that it's quite possible that there'll never be a cure or vaccine. Bob Jones wrote a good piece here. Like Keith I also don't quite understand the logic of mixing young children who wont comprehend distancing protocols. I would've though a lot of commercial and business activity could continue while masks were being worn. The one thing I am sure of is that we'll never be able to "stamp it out", as they patronisingly say using dumbed down media speak.

From today’s Guardian: “A new study in California has found the number of people infected with coronavirus may be tens of times higher than previously thought.

The study from Stanford University, which was released Friday and has yet to be peer reviewed, tested samples from 3,330 people in Santa Clara county and found the virus was 50 to 85 times more common than official figures indicated.”

If found to be accurate, it would give death rate of @1-4 per 1000 cases, many of them with already severely compromised health. That is of course a tragedy. Here in NZ, we have likely been exposed to the virus from January, certainly from early February. My feeling is that eradication is impossible. Careful micromanagement, especially protecting the vulnerable, to enable the health system to function effectively seems the only realistic approach. The government has done a B+ job and I am sure Lockdown level 3 will have been thought through.
On a final note, having been supermarket shopping a few times, the rules re distancing, touching things etc are perpetually flouted. If that hasn’t led to a wider outbreak, some minor relaxations as proposed in Level 3 won’t make much difference.

If accurate? As the article says plenty of surveillance testing and then we will know.

When we look at the few closed systems (floating petrie dishes like the cruise ships), they recorded death rates around 1% of total cases, in high risk groups. 10 times the normal flu death rate, and would overwhelm our medical system if we had no control, isolation, tracing or management in our communities.
The number of resolved cases (died or recovered) on worldometer states that the current death rate is 21% of the total resolved recorded cases. This indicates that either:
1. we are significantly under recording infection rates by a factor of 10-20 and the general illness is minor, OR
2. the disease is much less infectious but much more severe than everyone is claiming.
The disease is clearly infectious so it is significant under recording, with some societal groups having a very high risk. We should invest in protecting the vulnerable, and continue with social distancing and contact tracing as we continue to open up the economy. I supported the lockdown in the end, but as the author stated, we controlled border arrivals weeks too late.
Check on the MoH website - when did the confirmed cases arrive in NZ? Apart from the first 3 cases, the rest arrived from the first week of March, but many in the 2 weeks before lockdown and strict border controls.
https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-nov...

Good call Yvil.

The impact is totally out of proportion to actual risk. Bottom line, it's a flu, people die of the flu and other things, big deal. This has become entirely about political gain for the fish and chip monger and nothing else. She'll lead us into total economic devastation to save a few lives.

Not worth it.

That is only something that can be judged with hindsight.
The Spanish Flu had a second wave that kill by far more people than the first, that is how viruses evolve.
Are you ready to make a call that could kill thousands and destroy the economy at the same time?
I really don't get it how we need to keep going back and explaining this over and over again. Do some research before thinking that your golf mates FB post said otherwise.

Seriously? Like flu? Have you seen the mass graves in New York? I question your and Yvill' morality of placing money over lives.
Why must I sacrifice my loved ones so you can keep getting rich?

Wait till these marches against lock down start...
From there the lock downs are either lifted or the bullets start flying.
The virus spreads and the death toll goes to crazy town and takes the economy and supply chain into a ditch.

Honestly KR that is getting right into stride right now. The USA is embarking on a self inflicted apocalypse, armageddon. The volatility, the firepower of the weaponry in their society is frightening beyond belief. How many mass shootings per annum? About to set some records if they don’t stop panic breaking out.

Take one group of meat head I'm a patriot Yanks with guns and they come up against another meat head I'm a patriot Yank with another view of being a patriot also with guns and they will start shooting each other.
A rock and a hard place, I'm a Yank my view is better than your view...no no no I'm a Yank and my view is more important than yours.
Once some shooting starts, it will make the others jittery and more likely to pull the trigger faster if confronted themselves.

As Mark Hamill pointed out on the weekend, this March was the first in many years (11?) that there was no mass school shooting in the US.

DP

GH, that’s the problem in a nutshell.CV19 has interrupted them getting rich. Nothing else matters to them. Twist and turn, shout and spout anything at all to have the income stream back together again. So subjective it’s sickening. No person has the right to say who is expendable or disposable in our society. That sort of evil doctrine was meant to have been destroyed well and truly along with the Nazis.

Yvil,

You make some good points. As an article in the Herald today says; "We rightfully feel repulsed by putting a price tag on life. But every government uses estimates of a "value of statistical life" in designing its healthcare policies and decisions about which life-saving drugs to fund".
I am glad that the decision is not mine, but I would extend the lockdown until the beginning of next week, with a firm commitment to level 3 then and a strong indication of no more than 2 weeks before going to level 2.
i am currently doing a course from the Open University on Global Ethics and thought experiments are often used to highlight difficult issues. So, is NZ prepared to pay any price economically and socially, to ensure that not one additional death occurs? To me, the only morally defensible answer is no.

The Australians acknowledge three criteria, thresholds to secure in order to relax restrictions.

https://youtu.be/VeZ7iC18Qhw
Testing.
Tracing.
Local response capacity.

Its the accurate now condition, capacity and performance of these systems.
As restrictions are relaxed, we should not be betting to fix em on the fly.
Q: what's the condition of these systems?

The UK criteria for lifting lockdown:

NHS adequate capacity
Data showing rate of infections is decreasing
Sustained falling death rates
Testing capacity and PPE must be adequate
Not a risk of a second peak that will overwhelm the NHS

https://youtu.be/2w7F_hzqIhM
Dr Campbell

Germany today. "If we reach an R0 value of 1.1 their hospitals will be swamped by October.

13
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Lay it out straight.
Can we rid the country of the virus.
If so, how can we realistically remain virus free.
What is the benefit, cost, jobs, tax, loss of freedom etc.
Is it worth it.

11
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Anyone who understands viruses knows you cannot get rid of them in a few months, there is exactly one choice and the sooner we accept it the better; to live with it.

24
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Yet another sweeping statement with no basis. A few months is all it took to deal with SARS and MERS for example ; does not imply we can get rid of Covid19 as easily or at all but shows you are just mouthing off .

Paashaas, you are quite simply wrong and here is the proof SARS has not been eradicated: SARS down but still a threat; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92458/

14
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You are arguing terminology . SARS is no longer a real , present threat ; good enough for most of us.

I suppose that's one way to admit you were wrong

19
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Not at all ; put it this way - if we do as well with Covid19 as we did with SARS that would be an unequivocal success ; it does not matter if you choose to call it "elimination" or not.

12
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Yvil.
Chill out man.

SARS is still around but there is strong immunity in the population. That’s our best hope with COVID. There may be a vaccine soon, but there isn’t one yet that’s foolproof against influenza, let alone the common cold. Remember, the cold did untold damage to indigenous populations when colonists /invaders introduced it. The SARS scenario seems a likely outcome.

10
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PH, save your breath. Difficult to rationalise with one who obviously has no parents or grandparents to worry about.

15
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Yes because you know me don't you ? It's probably what you do with all your posts, assume you know stuff you have no idea about? I have an 81 year old mum who needs 7 pills everyday to keep her above ground, she said it's ridiculous to hold 99.9% of the world ransom for old people What's more she lives in the centre of Europe. She says she's lived a good life, if she gets a few more years it's a bonus.

Any more bs you want to make up about my life?

16
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I hope things work out well for you mum in Europe. Her fate does not really depend on what we do in NZ though so not relevant to this discussion.

Thanks paashaas

10
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we are an island at the bottom of the world with a 2500km moat so yes we can stop it at the border if we do the right things , which we are doing finally now.
all our cases originated from offshore travelers.
if we rid the country of the virus you could even let university students back in, as long as they have a clear test before they get on the plane do 14 days of isolation in a government approved facility (they would have to pay) and a clear test at the end, we could be one of the safe countries to send your kids to study

Yes totally agree Sharetrader.

There is gold in being virus free.

100% WuFlu free NZ.

100% Bovis free NZ.

Yes exactally why Jacinda should take expert advice instead she if the standard " I can be the fix all ".
Do not leave this up to a Govt department, they are mostly useless.
MPI and their mates at DoC are particularly useless.

They won’t have to pay much. Hotel rooms will be very much a buyers market, Sensible idea, though. The hit from tourism and international students will be huge. It could well kill Aucklands CBD. There are always solutions, if people are willing to find them.

Why would we?
Uni was started for kiwis and it should stay like that. No foreign students period.
That would have the added bonus of cheaper rents for students.

Exactly. That's what's been missing the whole time. The data. The cost benefit. Transparency.

But hey the COL has always been about perception and making decisions based on the feelz. No value in changing that playbook now eh.

Lay it out straight. (Okay!)
Can we rid the country of the virus. (Probably, at great economic cost)
If so, how can we realistically remain virus free. (without a vaccine, we'd have to become like North Korea)
What is the benefit, cost, jobs, tax, loss of freedom etc. (without a vaccine, unthinkable!)
Is it worth it. (depends on the likelihood of a vaccine being discovered)

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Another great article Keith. I'm happy to be able to provide 2 clear and unequivocal answers:
There are also two criteria by which history will measure success or failure. First, did the decision lead to eradication of COVID-19 within New Zealand? Second, did the decision lead to the minimisation of economic damage?
1) NO, CV is a virus, it will not, ever be eradicated, aiming and hoping to eradicate a virus by containment is a pure myth, it will linger within Kiwis
2) NO, lockdown will throw NZ into a recession at best but mostly into a depression. Most people think that's just about money a this stage, that's wrong, there are some very serious mental health consequences to losing jobs and businesses and not being able to make ends meet, which affect real people with depression and suicide

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Yves Polio is a virus and has been basically eradicated

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So have been SARS and MERS.
Yes Covid19 it tricky / insidious - it is hard to say if it can be eliminated - we just do not know at this stage.
Yvil however has no basis at all for saying it cannot be .

Neither Polio, nor SARS have been eradicated, stop making stuff up. It's quite easy google it

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None of the 3 affect our daily lives. Good enough.

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what, property leeches arguing?

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So what if Yvil bought a hotel on finance and expected a yield from it? Yvil is a wizard who "provides accommodation" through leverage, despite not building anything.

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By the amount of posts he has made to try and convince everybody that we should wind this all up and return to fairly normal, he hasn't realised that his motel isn't going to function as it did.
No tourists.
Not much money for Kiwis to travel.
A large amount of camper Van's that will be sold cheap or rented for very little.
Kiwis have friends arround the country they will visit and stay for free first before traveling for the sake of it.

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Polio has been eradicated in new Zealand, here i googled it for you
https://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/conditions-and-treatments/disease...
Polio has disappeared from New Zealand and most parts of the world as a result of immunisation. The Western Pacific region was declared polio free in 2000.

You seem to all to be missing this point; Where did C19 come from? Until China open up to external investigations to trace the origin of the virus, all of our efforts to 'eliminate' and 'eradicate' the virus are futile until a vaccine is produced. Why the WHO have agreed that China can open up wet markets again is beyond belief. Or, is China paying WHO so much money they just don't care. If you are concerned about our governments decision making, then fire a shot at the UN and WHO.

https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2020/4/15/21219222/coronavirus-china-...

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-08/wuhan-is-returning-to...

Opening wet markets with Exotic fare is stupidity in plain sight. Hopefully they stop the sale of exotic animals until we know the source of the virus. It may not make one bit of difference what every one does to 'combat' the virus if we don't know where it came from and how it jumped from animal to humans. It may have originated in a lab. We just don't know yet.

The responsibility rests solely on China to open up.

That and there are plenty of virologists who think a vaccine for Covid-19 is highly unlikely, or almost as dangerous as catching the disease.

To be fair to Yvil, of more relevance are the viruses causing flu and the common cold. Tricky little bastards. Over the years, we seem to have accepted the deaths that flu causes. Isn’t it the third biggest killer?

They don't seem to take so long killing you in a hospital bed requiring constant nursing.

There’s a vaccine for polio

If you can afford it

It's part of the standard NZ immunisation schedule, it's free for infants. If you were born here 99%chance you've already had it.

Antivaxxers have definitely dented the herd immunity for many of these previously more or less eradicated viruses.

Luckily with Polio we probably really don't herd immunity anymore, unless you travel to Afghanistan, Pakistan or Nigeria you won't encounter it. Pity the world can't get it's crap together long enough to go in there and wipe it out completely.

Exactly. Will the same political struggle play out with the current virus when a vaccine arrives ?

No, the world has already seen enough deaths from covid-19 that just like when the polio vaccine came out they'll be lined up round the block to get it. And a bit of social pressure will reduce the anti-vaxxer numbers to almost nothing. Cant show your immunization record for covid19.. no entry to anywhere community transmission is a likely outcome.

I would like to think so. Just a bit dubious about the fractured geopolitical landscape coming together for the greater good while under the pump economically

It probably doesn't matter whether the virus lingers or not......as long as we have a vaccine for it.

That's a big if. An effective vaccine for coronaviruses is tricky. With SARS the vaccine was almost as dangerous as the illness. Also the flu has 1400 base pairs. SARS-COV-2 has around 30,000, which makes a mutation much more likely. If flu vaccines only last a year before the next mutation gets out, how will an even more mutatable virus vaccine be effective? Once we have answers to that we can rest out hope on a vaccine.

Isn't flu vaccine only about 60% effective?

Good article. Appreciate the balanced view. I haven't seen much info regarding the actual nature of the virus. Isn't it this that we need to help fight this thing.
I've seen info regarding low antibody counts, and of course, reinfection. Is it reinfection that causes the virus to mutate? If so, then surely that brings a whole new level of risk to leaving level 4. I am simply saying that I don't think I would be alone in not understanding virology, even though I can't see how a virus could mutate effectively without meeting antibodies created to fight it.
Should a mutation be more aggressive, then surely that's worth knowing about. I have been skeptical of the numbers, yet I agree that a great effort has been made. A more complete effort at educating the public about the actual nature of the virus could go a long way.

The Lark,
The virus doe not need antibodies to be present to mutate.
When a virus mutates, it does this of its own accord without needing a trigger. essentially it happens by accident and chance during the relpication process. The key issue is whether or not the new form has a competitive advantage over the old form.
If the new form of the virus can trick any antibodies that are present then this is one, but only one, of a number of ways that competitive advantage occurs. Most mutations are too minor for the antibodies to be tricked, but ocassionally one occurs that can trick the antibodies.
The sources of competitive advantage that allow a new variant to prosper can be of multiple types. For example, if a variant is more easily transmitted then it has a competitive advantage.
In the case of COVID-19, a key competitive advantage over other coronaviruses is that it is infective prior to symptoms emerging.
Another competitive advantage would be if COVID-19 can infect some people without producing symptoms. Note that I said 'if' as we are not sure yet whether or not asymptomatic carriers have significant transmission rates. My own judgement at this point is that asymptomatic carriers are not big spreaders of the disease, and I base that mainly on the fact that we have not seen a second wave in China comng from within the community. Their second wave, which is very small, has come from infected Chinese returning from overseas. But if asymptomatic carriers can freely transmit the virus to other people then, to put it politely, we are 'stuffed' in relation to being able to 'stamp it out'. That is why there is still no guarantee that continuing with LEVEL 4 will achieve elimination. My own subjective judgement, based on how I see the evidence lining up, is that we have a reasonable chance of success, but in these judgements there are no experts; we are all learners and events can subsequently prove any of us wrong.
KeithW

Hi Kieth, thanks very much for your reply. It's a comfort to understand the virus a bit more. I see the point you make regarding asymptomatic people, and understand what you are saying regards more time to get to grips with this aspect of transmission. I fully accept (with hopeful optimism)what you are saying regards second wave in China, and fully support your quest for the decision makers to hear you regards going to level 3. Really appreciate your considered response.

"The question I ask right now, is why would we risk everything by going to LEVEL 3 too quickly?"

Well I must be on a roll tonight for I have another clear and unequivocal answer to your question Keith. As Carville (strategist of Bill Clinton's campaign) said: "it's the economy, stupid".
Unfortunately, you do not mention what we have to lose by staying in full lockdown. The question of loosening the straight jacket is a trade off between letting the CV spread now and have some more older fatalities now or keeping the LD for longer and having more misery and younger fatalities (suicides) later.

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I guess we will know in a few weeks Yvil. If we spend another 2-4 weeks in Level 4/3, and eradicate, then move back to Level 2 and 1 and get the economy properly re-started, then it may have been worth it.
If we spend another 2-4 weeks in Level 4/3 and don't eradicate, I'd call it a failure.
I'm not optimistic. As you and others know I think they've got this wrong. But time will tell.
I'm prepared to eat humble pie if I'm wrong.

We can still eradicate it in Level 3 (possibly even Level 2) with border closures. Singapore is a totally different kettle of fish.

Clutching at straws or knocking it on the head with a very big hammer?
Your job, Party, dream legacy depends on your call.
Do you take a chance or do you gamble? A week or two more at lvl 4 will shorten time at lvl's 3 and 2 and we end up with a same same.

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The economy is in deep trouble with or without either virus and/or lockdown. No foreign tourists or tudents, no international flights, most imports dsrupted by other countries shutdowns, massive increase in unemployment. My rental of $525 last week is $450 now with same tenants but I will be very lucky to get it unless they find jobs. We are fairly stuffed and the only consolation is most of the world is even worse.

If we can eradicate the coronavirus from our shores sensibly then we stand a very good chance of recovering fairly well, in comparison to the rest of the world. There are some advantages to being a small island at the arse end of the world.

100% VIRUS FREE.
NZ screwed the 100% pure a long time ago.

It could be far worse. Take a look at Ecuador where they're literally dumping bodies on the streets: BBC Coronavirus: Ecuador sees massive surge in deaths in April. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-52324218

Yes exactly but Yvil in his/ her wisdom thinks we just carry on. Above he is on about being on a roll... yeah one to many J's.
Wait till these protests start in the States, that is when it will get bad there.

Don’t laugh. This is 100% factual. The hunting shop in my local rural town saw unprecedented demand for guns and ammo in the two days of level three.

No way that shooting will start in NZ.
There were great deals on just before the lockdown. I grabbed a .22 and a shotgun and ammo for a hell of a lot cheaper than it would have cost me normally.
Most of the ammo is made in the States and they were going into lock down, ot only made sense to grab a box or two extra. Quite a few including me thought we could get out for a hunt in LD, didn't pan out though.
The US and NZ couldn't be further apart when it comes to pulling a trigger on somebody. If anyone opened up on the law here the majority would help the police.
A hell of a lot more to it than lots of people buying guns at your local...

Not so sure about the majority doing that.

What's that helping the police out in times of stress.
A vast majority of NZ firearms licenece holds would help the police, no doubt about it.

Very much doubt about it. 15 months ago no problem, now big problem. And that's from people that have or currently still do work with them.

haha you're dreaming if you think the firearms community would turn on the public and join the police

DP

I agree Lapun. The aftermath of the virus is a global recession. Irrespective of if we are in lockdown or not. Granted, economy will fare slightly better in lower levels but we're buggered regardless due to what you've cited. Most businesses that have made it through four weeks will be able to last through five/six. I don't see the marginal benefit justifying the risk.

You're forgetting facts of business under L4.
Take even those industries that are still manufacturing, a lot of them are only at 30% and are still losing money. Not to mention the knockon affects. e.g. Farmers not having ability to reduce stocking numbers. Sawmills not working meaning export pallets not manufactured for Kiwifruit, Dairy etc..
Every day that this L4 goes on, will mean more likely the marginal business will fold = destroyed capital and entrepreneurial confidence will take a long time to come back. Export markets could be damaged for long-term as nations look to substitute supply/products.

Yvil is right. People forget that we are basically throwing the young and future generations under the bus! Little like WW1 & WW2 really - send off the young boys to get slaughtered then have the survivors pay for the cost of war for generations to come. There will be good times ahead as well, but, we should not let that detract from the essence of making good decisions is "weighing up all the outcomes from each choice"!

Another thing, I'm totally sick of the Governments propaganda (adverts on tv etc.) - "we're all in this together NZ, remember what we are going back too". Lets see how this "all-in" plays out after the fact... you think the Worker the Business will be willing to pay a shed-load more in tax to look after the vast unemployed? ...you think the person complaining about lack of medicine and extended treatment times due to lack of Government funding?

Someone convince me of the brighter side please!

"We're all in this together" Not really. Public service and beneficiaries that have guaranteed jobs and income, they are insulated. Private sector, employers and employees are fundamentally insecure and the current govt have a culture with minimal sympathy for them as so few govt MPs have any connection or sympathies to private sector (past or present). That is a dangerous foundation for making good choices as we plummet into deep recession.

The Left elite have every incentive to weaken the Business Right elite and keep the great unwashed dependant on welfare. I suspect Labour may win the next election? If so, I’m taking early retirement, if possible, and becoming a spectator with a stash of cash to protect me from what’s to come.

Your personal bias (getting people back in the motel) wouldn’t be getting in the way of your ability to see this issue from a broader, utilitarian approach possibly?

Get over it Yvil, it is not about you and your business. You are not on a roll, you are on a rant!
The logical way forward is to stay in lvl 4 for at least another week if not two. The more I read your posts about going to lvl 3, suicides and all the rest of the straw clutching, the more I think we stay in lvl 4.

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Bloody great article. Feels like the speech before D-Day. Thing is we will never know the answer, but if we don't try then there will always be lingering regret. Personally, I can't see elimination happening, from the decades of having been in the frontline of primary care.

You are probably in a better position to judge this than most of us. What would you do ?

Would another approach work better? I note when China got to a low level they went bubble by bubble and put everyone in infected bubbles in seperate hotel rooms for 14 days to completely eradicate the virus. We are still allowing contamination within bubbles.

Knock knock. Hello, you have been ID'd as being in a supermarket at the same time as an infected person. Come with us for two weeks.
How dose that ho down in NZ.

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As level 3 now looks much akin to level 4 in many respect I don't anticipate this to be much of a change from the previous advice offered.

What I do see is that Australia may be overtaking New Zealand in fighting Coronavirus. We have become very passive in eradication of the virus but the consequence is that we are riding a very long tail down. Ideally we'd have a few consecutive days at 0 new cases before moving to level 3.

It seems less and less likely that eradication (which would be wonderful) is even possible. Taiwan has been near zero for weeks but still getting new cases. Many stories now of re-infection, recovering patients who test positive again weeks later (like warts or herpes?). Are we going to isolate infected for months? How does it alter the necessary policies for arrival quarantine? If eradication is effectively impossible then best policy is to open up as much as possible while still keeping numbers falling (eg instead of R0=0.5 level 4 maybe R0-0.9 level 2-3), assist it with low-cost boosts like everyone wearing masks in public, phone based tracking apps, in-school 'class bubbles' etc.

Don't hold hope in NZ for phone apps that track location/movement. A lot of the low income earners and elderly don't own smartphones. I worked in a large manufacturing company that attempted to deploy software for health and safety purposes that relied on a person owning a mobile phone. A lot of the plant workers (over 40% of over 1100 people) did not own a capable smartphones. Both my parents don't own smartphones with location services and they are not alone so to speak.

Practical solution for wealthy travellers though.

On past delivery, we may be assured that economic damage is the last thing on the Captain's mind. Burnishing the image and 'resetting' what's left of the economy certainly is.

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Why can't Level 3 be defined as they are doing but without education opening up? Given they've just geared up for home schooling - keep it that way. Any parents who cannot go back to work for childcare reasons just don't go back to work - they stay on the $585/week government subsidy.

From a public health perspective, opening schools surely should be a part of either Level 2 or Level 1 alerts. You cannot implement physical/social distancing in schools.

What are you on about? Another comfy boomer with nothing to lose from lockdown?

'they stay on the $585/week government subsidy'. You do realise how little that is? Especially if you are used to earning upwards of $1500-$2000

Unbelievable.

our poor little revolutionary is getting worked up and cranky again ; here is a virtual candy for you - but when off to bed.

I'm quite amazed how little empathy people like you and many others here seem to have for the people losing jobs left right and centre, or having their wages cut.
I guess when you are a comfy property speculator like yourself it doesn't matter, right?

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it was the same in the GFC many of my family and friends got made redundant and it was a horrible time they struggled for a period but they all SURVIVED and got to live on to find another job and move forward some better off some still trying to recover
god forbid anyone close to you catches this virus and perishes so that you could earn your 2k a week.

very unlikely with a mortality rate circa 0.3 - 0.5......
More likely to know someone who commits suicide from the financial collapse. But lots of you don't seem to care about that.
PS. I've got high income security, not affected either way by the lockdown or not, so don't worry about me :)

you might want to check the mortality rate, most scientists are now saying it is over 3% and at the rate of infection if 60% of nz caught it that would mean 90000 deaths
In the UK, as of 2 April, 2921 people had died out of 33,718 confirmed cases – a crude case fatality rate of around 9 per cent. For Italy, the figure is nearly 12 per cent and for Germany just 1 per cent. South Korea had a crude case fatality rate of just 0.6 per cent. That has risen to 1.7 per cent. Among resolved cases – those who have died or recovered – the case fatality rate is 2.9 per cent.

Plenty of scientists saying it's well less than 1.0. Primarily because infection rates are much higher than formally recorded.

if you check the john Hopkins website its 6.84%
so on that figure with a 60% infection rate in NZ that would be 205200 deaths
as for underreporting those infected they have also under reported deaths, only yesterday both china and the UK revised their deaths up quite a lot, the USA were not counting a lot and are now revising theirs up as well and in france they didnt count deaths in rest homes
https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594...
https://www.forbes.com/sites/joshuacohen/2020/04/14/underreporting-of-co...

The Johns Hopkins data is deaths per confirmed case. There is considerable emerging data that strongly suggests that the confirmed case number is off by a factor greater than ten in regards to the actual number of people that have had cv19. Have a read through this paper, which suggests that the actual number is between 50-85× the confirmed case count for Santa Clara County in california.

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.14.20062463v1

Here is an interesting article about finding 30% of the people testing positive in a homeless shelter in Boston, all asymptomatic at the time of testing. The official confirmed positive in Massachusetts is still well below 1% of the population. Sorry for the long link, forgot how to embed a link...

https://www.boston25news.com/news/cdc-reviewing-stunning-universal-testi...

French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle C19 outbreak. Crew tested 1760 of which 1046 (60%) positive. 50% of those were asymptotic. 20-30 hospitalised, one serious.

https://amp.lefigaro.fr/international/coronavirus-bilan-definitif-de-104...

Presumably young and fit. Thanks for a useful link. If 50% are asymptotic then apply that figure to the cases in NZ where victims were not in a restricted area such as the cases in rest homes - and I'm guess-timating Keith Woodford's figure of 100 undetected cases in NZ as about right and therefore we need to hold down tight until more testing has been done and better, faster tracing has been developed. It may only need another week or two. Certainly it argues against releasing children from house arrest - they are the most likely to be asymptotic carriers.

Good reasoning - tks. You would have to assume that the cases in rest homes have been quantified, are under control and transmission contained within. And ditto for other similar clusters such as the schools, Whanganui, Marist Auckland for instance. Therefore if they are deducted from the active cases would think you are left with something in the region of 350 in the wider community which is the actual size now of the real target in numbers .

An aircraft carrier is probably one of the worst scenarios for passing it around, common mess areas, tight spaces, no social distancing possible.
And that is 50% asymptomatic at the time of the test, among a young healthy bunch of active duty military men (and maybe a few women).

This sample is so far from representative as to be next to meaningless in a real world context.

Good case for segregating >60 and <60 and letting the youngsters get on with it.

Thats not even remotely practical

Why not? If the >60's value their skin they will toe the line. After all the under 60's are paying for the luxury of this first world lockdown.

As yet to be peer reviewed from Stanford based on antibody tests puts total cases in California at a factor of 50-80 times more than reported.
They say that puts fatalities at 0.1 to 0.4 per thousand. Don’t shoot the messenger....
And while I’m at it, level four allows essential business, level three allows safe business. What was wrong with ‘safe’ at level four?

California is miles behind on coronavirus testing, they have tested at less than half the rate NZ has, they have done about 6300 tests per 1m population. NZ is >16,000. And they have a lot more cases to find, california has 30,000 confirmed cases, so how many more people do they need to test just to cover all the people they already know have been exposed?

Iceland is probably the best data in the world sitting on about 0.8% CFR Taiwan with their rigorous tracing and near zero new cases is 1.5% Corollary of these numbers is that countries with higher CFRs are obviously missing huge numbers of infections, and globally the number of infections is probably 5-10x higher than reported.

A piece of advice from the very liberal, left wing Guardian today:
“Finally, a reminder that most people who contract the disease recover; many may never notice they had it at all.”

Don't be a dick. A lot of people have $50k+ mortgages or rents to meet, and children to provide for (childcare), and lots of other unavoidable costs ad financial liabilities. $100k family income is not enough to cover that, even with 2x median incomes it is a struggle. We don't have an option of just having one income in our family, particularly with likely large income drops in near future, and govt will not fill that hole.

And I thought all these high priced lifestyle choices were made..you know..by choice....no one forced me to live beyond my means.

Then going back to work and hiring a babysitter is the way to go.

you have to earn more than the median wage to be able to afford a babysitter with minimum wage as high as it is.

Most people that have kids also have a partner. So worst case scenario they lose half their income (although in most cases one partner earns more). And just for another 2-4 weeks or so. I’m all for getting people back to work where possible but this seems a bit ridiculous. If kids are at school we may as well all go back to our normal lives and forget the lockdown altogether.

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Oh, honestly, there are so many single-parent households with children, that making airy assumptions like "Most people that have kids also have a partner" just destroys any words after that statement.

You can be single-parent household and have a partner. In fact common. Sometimes both an old partner interested in their kids plus a new partner also willing to take responsibility for those kids.

Yep - social distancing is just a buzz word if schools are allowed back.

Yep...feeling really sorry for those people who aren't getting their $2000/week. Hopefully they didnt spend it all on consuming everything the TV says to spend it on and actually saved for a rainy day...you know, home economics 101...not trumpanomics where you borrow, borrow, borrow and then file bankruptcy...is this not taught in schools anymore?

You won't be getting the $585 pw if the business that employed you shut its doors because there was zero revenue and ongoing standing costs for an indefinite period of time.

and sad to say many will but also when we get up again new businesses will start up and the strong business will grow quicker as innovation moves them forward.
that is capitalism that is why there are resets (normally every ten years) to clear out the weak and allow the strong and new start ups to survive.

Under true capitalism boom bust cycles like these theoretically should not happen. We have a centrally planned economy where central bank governers pull interest rate levers and banks blow up asset bubbles with fake digital trash.

Weed out the weak? All what will happen is a mass wealth transfer were the big guns buy everything and competition becomes obselete. The cruise and airline industry were shut down by govts and central planners and not by a natural boom bust cycle. Now predators with fake digital trash will control the lot. Carnival corp will lose their business and the vipers are circling to take it for pennies on the dollar.

the simple reason is many of the poor can not do home schooling well, if you saw the news tonight you would have seen mangere college where 60% of the students have no way of doing online tutorials and lack laptops or tablets to study with, so they would have to do correspondence learning and would came back way behind the rest of the pupils.
BUT that also goes to show how we have not evolved our schools to keep up with modern times. maybe they need to bring in a scheme for decile one schools where the schools supply laptops for the student, they could canvas local businesses and recycle old ones each year.
take mangere college again they are next to the airport and there are hundreds of business there so i could only guess how many laptops are replaced each year and the old ones tossed out, they could do a donate campaign then they would just need to for them to be refurbished, that is where the department of education could step in

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A convincing argument. But I image there are a bunch of kids who are much safer at school than they are in absusive home environments with parents under more pressure than usual. Don't have an answer, but there are some pretty crude and frightening trade offs that need to be made. 

Parents finding it harder to get drugs and party all night - probably good for the kids. And they are avoiding bullying.

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The people I know that use a lot of drugs and party all night tend to be wealthy, I've noted the more people have the more they tend to consume.

No it's not good if the parents can't get the drugs because they take it out on kids at home. School is a much safer place for many children.

Don’t know Jenee. Often bending one problem to fix another can rebound, unforeseen.

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Jenée, imagine how unhealthy these household will be when the parents have lost their jobs and income... Businesses must reopen asap, people have to keep as many jobs as possible

Yvil, we are brothers in arms on this, if little else :)

Yvil

I agree! If we continue lockdown we run the risk of thousands of suicides and mass crime waves. Social and family disfunction along with overwhelming mental health crisis. Poor nutrition and social isolation. I wonder if all the pro jacinda lockdown people will put bears in the window for those who suffer.

There are so many reports on historical epidemics. My personal fave is Thucydides, Plague of Athens. Anyway, the common theme is that most previous epidemics involved no government restrictions really. There wasn't communication sufficient to have instigated lockdowns like the ones we are currently experiencing, although of course, many people chose to isolate themselves anyway, just as they would now, regardless of government intervention. However, the crime, the suicides, the mental health issues, the financial losses... these all happen anyway.

Those who think that letting the virus run amok would somehow be better for suicide rates, economies and happiness are simply meeting the limits of their cognitive capacity, or else have internalised their own self interest to the point of delusionism. It happens to all of us sometimes, me included.

You won't lose your job and house...civil servants keep these. Not fair so stuff your insult of me reaching my cognitive capacity.

A real world comment. Thanks, JT.

Thank you Jenee for bringing in a a discussion topic that is very real for significant numbers of children. Almost all the comment has been around 'protecting the elderly', 'if you had elderly parents/grandparents' etc. In other words looking at it only from the 'me' perspective - which is a very human thing to do. The fact that it has taken you to raise the issue of 'children at risk', and that cuts across all socio-economic levels, suggests that commentators on this site are quite ignorant about the reality for a lot of children. I am in the camp of 'keep the young safe' over 'keep the elderly safe", for as you say, there are trade offs been made here. Elderly have choices, the young do not.

Dr Bloomfield, in talking to the Epidemic Response Committee last week, replied to a question that all factors of health (he also used the word 'wellbeing') are being considered.

Why would you conclude that these kids will end up back in school if it is partially open? Kids from abusive homes are possibly more likely to NOT come back to school because the parent(s) are not inclined/interested or bothered to make the effort to ensure they get there.

Good article Keith. Surely the 550 active cases are in quarantine and will only infect very, very few people? Most new cases will come from the unknown number of undetected cases out there, which our case rate suggests are fairly few. If we do go to Level 3 (or 3+) then the key is to maintain high levels of distancing. Many workplaces will have a lot to learn. If 40% of the workforce are already at work under Level 4, and the 25% who are working at home keep doing so, and only part of the 35% currently unable to work resume work,... will that be enough?

My understanding is that the antibody tests are too unreliable (false positive rate up to 1.5%) that they're not really going to be a useful tool for the population at large at the moment.

Robert M,
My concern with the so-called quarantining of infective cases is that the bubble that they are in also needs to be in tight quarantine. I am not convnced this is occurring. This is one key difference to China.
With antibody testing, a level of false positives is managable. That is exactly what is happenng wiith the Mycoplasma bovis campaign and the authorities know how to deal with that particular issue. False negatives are actually a much bigger problem than false positives in any eradication campaign. We have a signficant level of false negatives occurring with swab (PCR) testing with COVID-19 because an infected person will not necessarily transfer the virus to the swab. That was also occurring and with Mycoplasma bovis in cattle. This is the reason why with Mycoplasma bovis there is now much more reliance on antibody serology than on swab (PCR testing). Wit COVID-19, both swab (PCR) and antibody serology have a role to play but our Government has been far too slow to pick up on antibody testing.
KeithW
KeithW

Keith, I'm puzzled why you think eradication is possible in NZ given the fact that, two years after the campaign to eradicate M. bovis was started (at huge expense), we still haven't succeeded. Shouldn't M. bovis have taught us that we can't eradicate a virus, and that like every other country in the world we just have to live with it?
And with cattle, we can (and are) killing the infected herds. We can't do that to humans...

Lol Graham, good point. I have been rather vocal on my dismay with mbovis. Currently Northland is full of it. And it is now nearly 3 years since we started.

i concur with your conclusion and think we should hold level 4 until after Anzac weekend and go to level 3 on the 28th. that gives us more time to get contact tracing to the level required and more data from random testing at shopping malls, that would allow one more cycle to get us below r of 1 and eliminate out of nz and allow us to move to level 2 quickly after two weeks of level 3 and get our economy fully open.
then it is just protecting our border and stamping out an outbreak quickly until a vaccine comes along which is looking likely early next year and then we can let vaccinated tourists back in.
for tourisms as countries become free of the virus we can start movement between each country
ie cook islands that are free of the virus
if and when Australia get themselves under control we could allow tourists between each country

""This gets me more than a little angry."" True. Both the good and bad need to be identified by a royal commission after this is over. Also after the next election.

Good article. Maybe a position between level-3 and level-4 and make it regional. For example is there a good reason CathamIsland fishermen cannot fish? Certainly agree about schools. My bubble has a 3 year old in it and she cannot be kept from touching and hugging and generally climbing over people and things. Since I am over 70 with medical issues I am nervous about her socialising at a pre-school. Roughly children under 10 should be kept bubble wrapped - after that age they can be very responsible but would still need careful management.

to go to regional levels you would have to set up some kind of communist state system where people have id cards and you have border controls. you already see the uproar up north with hones group pulling there stunt so it would not go down well in NZ.
im not saying it wouldn't work, their are some places it would be easy to do i.e west coast of the south island (three roads) coromandel peninsula (two roads)
level 3 has people supposed to stay in there regions but that will be ignored first long weekend

Road blocks. Taranaki would be easy to isolate and you only need to explain why you are travelling. This already applies in a random fashion; for example a social worker in my family who escorted a delinquent from prison to their home two hours drive north last week was stopped by the police. Obviously the road block manned by the level-3 side.
If all cases were in one Island why should the other island suffer?

i agree on the regions there are many that have been safe for awhile and you could use the address on your drivers license for ID
i.e Wairarapa have no active or new cases and few roads in and out so with road blocks they could go straight to level two and bypass level three with roadblocks
but would kiwis allow restriction of movement, even though we have it now it is not enforced meaningfully

I guess this is what happens when you have an economy driven solely around profiting off other people's labour, without producing anything. And exporting those gains via our $5 billion "dollar" export economy.

We shut everything down for 4 weeks due to a potential health threat to our society and everything crumbles. What are our business community doing FFS?!?!

it also shows how our companies relied on cheap imported labour for productivity gains instead of investing in new technology or innovation. and the interesting thing has been the companies under level 4 whom have become more innovative to keep running.
the amount of companies not prepared was frankly quite astounding

I totally agree with you about the dumb way NZ thought cheap labour was good for us. However it is easier to replace a 3rd world work visa manual labourer with an unemployed Kiwi than it is to get spare parts for your automatic machinery from Spain, Italy or France. 'Keep it simple' gives flexibility.

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However, had these companies been able to access lending at 4% - 5% P.A to invest in new technology or innovation instead of having that luxury extended solely to our housing ponzi i'm sure these companies would have been better prepared.

Probably trying to figure out how to run businesses with zero cashflow at the end of a financial year that's seen a substantial slow-down? I'm not sure what you expect businesses to do - keep enough cash on hand to cover an entire month of standing costs in the event someone closes down the economy for four weeks, which has literally never happened before?

no they should have been innovative before the shut down, how many are now rushing to set up click and collect or contactless deliveries.some companies have even changed products and sent machinery to peoples garages to keep operating. the clever will see an opportunity not a problem.
https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/413472/covid-19-nelson-pvc-factory-m...
Director Christine Clark said they usually made truck covers, calf shelters and dam liners in what was now a large, empty factory.
Staff were now making almost 400 PPE shields daily on machines re-located to their garages at home.
"We've trailered the sewing machines into people's garages, spread right across Nelson.
"I'm the driver, so I'm washing my hands and wearing a face shield and delivering the materials to the team."
The team of nine people included five production staff, Clark said.

Ah yes, the local garage needs to be more 'innovative' and web 3.0". All the buzz words about diversification and innovation doesn't help existing service providers who had a legitimate market and viable business before the lockdown hit - you still need that business to be functioning on the other side of the lockdown because presumably it was doing something in demand. Pivoting to a different industry is great if you can do it, but it doesn't mean your perfectly functioning business beforehand was somehow less viable, and is only a realistic option for a very small number of operations.

And which, if it had happened via a competitor effecting the same, would have resulted in a civil suit for massive damages.

Is the wrong message being sold? We are being told to avoid Covid-19 stay away from others breathing, don't touch hard services because they may be infected, etc. The message should be assume the worst and you have the Covid-19 and don't realise it yet - how should you behave? Be prepared to explain where you have been over the last 7 days and who you met and how they can be contacted quickly. Similarly wear a mask not to stop getting Covid-19 but to stop spreading it. So mask wearing (even just a scarf over the face) becomes a matter of ettiquette to be proud of. If a mask is thought of as a sign of fear you will not persuade young Kiwis.

Whatever level we reach we need a society prepared for efficient infection tracing. We have plenty of well educated civil servants with little to do - train them in the art and science of contact tracing and tell the public they should expect random calls asking them who is in their bubble and where all members of their bubble have been recently. All done under the approval of the privacy commissioner.

Concatenating "well educated civil servants", "privacy commissioner", "efficient infection tracing" in the one paragraph is a multi-sentence oxymoron. It took our local DHB three days to rouse their "well educated civil servants" enough to actually visit the Rosewood home which has resulted in all of Canterbury's deaths. Hope is not a Strategy....

not sure. there is some demarcation in there, in the usual bureaucratic cross indexing of course. In our family’s subject case we were told that they were acting under MOH Wellington guidance and incredibly that advice was to carry on as normal. Some like your experience and the Radius group closed the doors on their own initiative. My understanding is that rest homes fall under the jurisdiction of the MOH but the funding is channeled thru the DHBs. Therefore we needed to have the announcement last week that the MOH was now sending the DHBs in. Guess Rosewood probably what triggered that. Cannot change history but surely way back when the self isolating and the measures for the vulnerable were decreed, simultaneously stringent criteria should have been issued for the rest homes.

Waymad - wish I'd written your comment myself - point taken and thumbs up.

Yes, and we have to remember that to part of a successful bureaucratic system you have to become institutionalized and follow the rules, even though all common sense, logic, and rational thought and action says to do something else.

If the bureaucratic process and what needs to be done happen together, then this is more good luck, than any type of conscious action on behalf of the bureaucrats.

And it normally isn't the frontline staffs problem, God help them if they do the right thing but it's different from the process they have to follow.

Aye, and built in is the ability for one department to off load to or blame the other department on the other side of the corridor and vice versa.

Will NZ follow Singapore by hasty decession by being under pressure by bias vested interest like National and it's supporters.......Mike Hoskins and Mark Robinson and so on...........

https://www.stuff.co.nz/world/asia/121109757/coronavirus-singapore-sees-...

Four weeks of good work should not be thrown away just to please some Ass$#@s. Should only go to Level 3 if 100% confident as do not mind waiting for a week or two also in public interest.

Don't let Loss Aversion cloud good decision making.
Decisions/plans should be revised according to circumstances and as more information becomes available.
Hootons article the other day was great, Ardern has boxed herself in (politically) by having a target of eradication!

good sense....schools opening a mistake and we are not yet ready to test and trace at the necessary level...continue level 4 and make good use of the time to prepare

If the main advise was to "flatten the curve", we should go to level 3 asap and keep testing as much as possible. Monitor numbers, if in a few weeks numbers rise then we go back in to level 4. This slows it down but also gives people some cash flow. Im just talking out my arse tho so could be a disaster.

I think that’s the question the government aren’t really answering - are we flattening the curve or are we eradicating? I don’t think level 3 should exist - if flattening then level 2, if eradicate then level 4. Level 3 seems like this stupid half way point where we can’t live our lives but other peoples kids are transmitting the virus around.

Yeah good point, i get the feeling Jacinda is going to extend Level 4. If you look at NZherald and Stuff Polls most people want level 4 still. Not that its the most reliable data haha

The NZ lockdown levels match the levels that have been simulated in some of the various models that have been done on the pandemic spread. Most of the models roughly agree and whilst we might speculate and attempt to apply "common sense" reasoning from our armchairs... ultimately governments are going to go with the best available science, and rightly so. The science is new, no doubt flawed, science always is and consensus is arrived at cautiously and slowly as new information becomes available. Eventually we will know more, have more data and other methods or policies will be proposed, or else the existing ones will be tweaked. No one walked into this pandemic an expert, no one *could* be an expert on a novel virus. This is a time of great upheaval and uncertainty, it will challenge everyone in different ways, I don't think there can ever be or has ever been a perfect pandemic.

Exactly JJ and also there needs to be a greater breakdown of the numbers coming through. For instance are any of the new cases included in those recently arriving and in quarantine. And exactly how many of the existing cases are in the rest homes where it is quantified, under control and transmissions contained within. If you take out those numbers where transmission to the community are restricted is not then the remainder the actual size of our present problem.

A brilliant piece of journalism - I agree 100% with your rationale Keith - your summary of the pressure of responsibility ( ie being the person who actually has to make the decision) is apt. All too easy for people to express an opinion without having to carry the burden of the decision. The competing pressures are immense but the risks of undoing the work to date when we appear tantalisingly close to elimination are huge. A level 3+ that keeps schools shut is (perhaps) an acceptable compromise. The idea of opening schools at level 3 utterly defeats any social distance credibility and is a significant and obvious risk to spreading the disease. Still new and surprising changes in patterns of spread and reliability of testing overseas. Two weeks additional safety at level 4 to inch ever closer to zero, to further see how the virus behaves, to fine tune the trace testing, to iron out the details of level 3 is worthwhile - yes there will be further economic costs but the majority of NZ's are, I believe, prepared to pay this cost.

"to fine tune the trace testing" might be better phrased as "to find, adapt, test and implement a secure, robust, nationwide system from scratch..."

There is already going to be at least 1 week between level 4 lifting and school starting. GR confirmed that that is the case regardless of when level 4 lockdown lifts. So still not at least 2 weeks like you want for LVL 3+, but it's not straight away.

Also school is voluntary, so numbers will be much lower than normal. Guidance is for bubbles of 10 students and maintaining 5m distance from others outside the bubble when outdoors.

Yes, it'll be challenging to manage. But there is in reality probably little real threat from school with these provisions - I imagine for young children that lunch time and recess may be staggered, may be kept inside and may have constant supervision by teachers, ensuring school bubbles are not breached.

You are correct in saying it will be challenging to manage social distancing in classrooms - particularly with younger kids - hence why it is a bad idea if social distancing is still considered paramount - (which we know it is). The decision to open schools is not about confidence in teacher's ability to manage the risks it is entirely about managing the workforce... this is why I feel that the best management of both is to prolong level 4 or introduce the 3+ as Keith mentioned.

The intention is bubbles of 10 students and not everyone is going back to school. I expect they will have 10 students per room, no social distancing required.

In other words you are happy with collateral of 9 family bubbles - (10 if you include the teacher's family bubble).

Having 10 x 5 year old children in a class and expecting them not to interact within 1m over a 6 hour day is not feasible.

I accept that running schools like this is an inevitable outcome - the question is whether this is too early - I believe it is.

"Having 10 x 5 year old children in a class and expecting them not to interact within 1m over a 6 hour day is not feasible."

And no one in government is expecting or suggesting that keeping children apart by 1m for 6 hours a day is required. That's what being in a bubble means - no requirement for social distancing.

So 10 separate bubbles become a single giant bubble - assuming more than one child and it could be much bigger. Assume typical child is currently in a bubble of average size 4 - a classroom of 10 kids and one teacher becomes a bubble of 40 or maybe much higher. Add the extra kids in a family and the adult doing essentail or safe work and the bubble moves from 4 to several hundred. See how many are in the Marist outbreak and from memory that was a single person at the school for only a halfday.

They don't know the source of the Marist outbreak.

"So 10 separate bubbles become a single giant bubble"

Yes. But it should be noted that the virus doesn't spread instantly to everyone within a bubble. If an outbreak is detected at a school, all close contacts will be made to self-isolate.

The whole point of this exercise is balancing the risk of spread vs the risk of keeping the economy closed for longer. Out of all of the schools in the country who are going to be operating in this way, it'll be surprising if there was an outbreak at more than one of them. That seems like a pretty reasonable risk to take if it allows hundreds of thousands of people to go back to work.

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Here's a scenario for the millennials:
It's 1914 and WW1 has just begun. Everyone says the war will be over by Xmas. Your grandfathers or great-grandfathers as the case may be carry on as usual not caring about a skirmish on the other side of the world. It's late 1914 and things are looking much more serious, the war has turned into a vast conflagration in Europe and NZ has decided to answer Britain's call with its military. At first they only look to the permanent army and then volunteers. It quickly develops into a call to sign up and by 1915 if you haven't volunteered you'll probably find a white feather posted to you....a symbol of cowardice. So, under this pressure, you sign up and are sent by troop ship over to Egypt and thence to Gallipoli where the troops are quickly routed by the Turks with terrible loss of life. From then on all New Zealand troops are sent to the Western Front in France where they must confront a foe who is man for man probably the best soldier in the world with superior weaponry. They then undergo three or more years of living in the stinking trenches where mud mixes with human body parts and rats, and deadly shells explode above you and pelt you with schrapnel, and relentless machine gun fire rips into anything that moves, and either you are crossing no-mans land to stick a bayonet into a German's guts or receive a German bayonet in your guts.
You suffer dysentery and all manner of colds and disease, and only few days of respite every now and again back from the trenches.
You survive the war and are not one of the 18,000 NZ soldiers killed. You step back on shore in NZ only to find yourself confronting NZ's first Flu pandemic which kills 9000 people in 2 months.
You survive that and are starting to make headway in your trade when your wife dies of some infection which would be cleared up in a few days in today's world.
You get over her death only to find yourself unemployed even though you are a master builder. There is no dole, only a little charity. You hear that the freezing works in Westfield are looking to employ workers. You make it there only to find there's a long queue. You try to stop some men pushing into the queue and end up being beaten to a pulp.
The country and the world gradually come out of the Great Depression and no sooner than things start looking rosy than another world war starts in which your son, who was born in 1923, will soon be off overseas to fight in.
This is the story of my grandfather and probably your great-grandfather but you probably don't know it.
Perhaps a year or two of social distancing and a little economic sacrifice won't seem all that bad.
.

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Might just be me, but it doesn’t appear to be younger guys (who would be sent to war) who are crying out for the lockdown to be stopped. It appears to be those who have most to lose economically. I.e guys in their 50s and 60’s.
Could be wrong.

Indeed.

And apart from the possibility of Vietnam, that same generation of men haven't sacraficed much for the country, but have lived off that which their parents did including, free tertiary education, cheap houses...the list goes on that their parents were willing to provide for them (without getting into a complete generational war).

So I think its pretty rich that this is pointed just at millennials - why is it?

Yvil is probably the loudest here wanting the lockdown to end and I'm almost certain he'll be stale, pale and male and almost certainly didn't fight in a world war.

Oh cool story, I can definitely pay my mortgage with this, thanks.

Empathy and perspective GV27, do you have any

Probably about the same amount shown by property investors towards those locked out of the property market eh Houseworks. Did you fight in a few world wars? (I'll include Vietnam or Korea). Or just taking a moral high horse that smells like hypocrisy?

I'm sharing this story with all my millenial friends. Thank you.

I thought you were being sarcastic....my mistake.

This was a moving story and did give me some perspective. I think you might be too negative and/or cynical, could be wrong of course no offence.

Why is this pointed at millenials? There are far more business owners complaining about social distancing and the lockdown that I'm aware of and they're either boomers or genx. So is this just a generational dig?

The OPs story was about a young person, whatever that generation was called back then, that's why it was addressed to us millenials. Don't look for digs where there are none.

"Us millenials" also have GenZ who are perfectly suitable for this story as well if you want to look outside the millennial bubble. But yeah...who cares.

u do apparently ;)

Moral of the story - its the youth that pay for the mistakes of the rich and powerful, not the politicians

And that is the guts of why I get pissed off with the ones that say 'boomer' when they could handle a quarter as much.

couldn’t, I trust?

Keith would the following be correct ( I have been reading up on pandemics all evening and these are my conclusions):

Whatever happens we are definitely going to have to practise social distancing continuously both socially and at work until a vaccine is discovered.

New Zealand's only previous pandemic, 1918 Flu Pandemic, tells us that:

1. That pandemic arrived in two waves: the first wave was relatively benign, scarcely worse than seasonal flu. the second wave was super deadly, killing 9000 New Zealanders in two months when our population was barely a quarter of today's. Pandemics can come in waves.

2. That pandemic first wave virus unaccountably mutated from the benign into the more deadly virus of the second wave. The virulence of the pandemic virus can change without warning.

3. That pandemic was no respecter of age: yes, the over 85 year olds were the worst hit, but you will be gob-smacked to see how it hit the other age groups from 20 to 60 years old; see the link below for age group mortality:

https://teara.govt.nz/en/graph/27794/male-and-female-death-rates-from-in...

I equate what's coming to a cross between the 1918 Flu Pandemic and the Great Depression if we don't practise rigorous social distancing while we await the hopefully rapid discovery of a vaccine.

Fascinating graph. Not sure it proves much about this epidemic other than convince me that from the age of 5 to 9 you are invincible.

And social distancing is a matter of life and death.

And, the mild first wave is believed to have provided some immunity from the deadly second wave.

Anyone Herd of immunity?

Streetwise,
I agree with your analysis, with the proviso that we don't have good data to make fully confident comparisons of the epidemiology between the Spanish flu and COVID-19. The age specific deaths for the Spanish flu are very interesting. Back in those days there were not many people of age 85+, and that is why the absolute numbers of young people that died were so much greater than for old folk, despite the age specific rates per 10,000 people in each age group being highest in the old folk.
KeithW

Time for level 3 the people are over it. If your high risk then continue to self isolate yourself but its time to move on now new case numbers are near single digits none of which should be community spread by now. If 4 weeks has not worked then a longer period will have even less effective as more and more start ignoring it.

Editorial: Where Ties With Communist China Are Close, the Coronavirus Follows
Severe COVID-19 outbreaks highlight different countries’ entanglements with Beijing:
https://www.theepochtimes.com/where-ties-with-communist-china-are-close-...

Roger
Anyone reading articles from the Epoch Times should also read the Wikipedia article on the Epoch Times. Of course articles in Wikipedia can have their own biases, but this particular Wikipedia is worth a read. In relation to the USA, it is evident from the genomic anlyses that the biggest American outbreaks such as New York trace to the virus travellng to the US via Europe rther than directly from China. In all likelihood, that will also be the case for NZ, because we put effective border controls in place early in regard to China, but left the barn door swinging open for week after week in relation to the rest of the world.
KeithW

Keith, how much of your main employers funding comes from Chinese or China linked organizations ?

Glitzy,
This is getting tiresome.
I consult internationally for a range of organisations on a range of topics.
None of my contracts are paid by the Chinese Government or Chinese Front organisations or by Chinese Companies.
Now please move on.
KeithW

Given our large Chinese NZ population, the timing of Chinese New Year and the option of flying from China via any number of ports such as HK, BKK etc I'd say the virus was well and truly here in Feb. Once increased testing started our numbers escalated to similar trajectories as Italy, Spain. The 4 week lockdown was probably just in time to shut the gate, hence the 2 days at level 3.

From the Guardian:
”A new study in California has found the number of people infected with coronavirus may be tens of times higher than previously thought.

The study from Stanford University, which was released Friday and has yet to be peer reviewed, tested samples from 3,330 people in Santa Clara county and found the virus was 50 to 85 times more common than official figures indicated.”

We quite likely had carriers here back in Jan/Feb.

We had carriers in Jan, and it highly infectious, and for a small percentage of the population it's a severe illness, yet nobody without an international travel link ended up in hospital til late March? In what world does that make sense?

Supposing death is the big issue here. What would the statistics conceivably look like if the lockdown levels were gradually lifted by “age and date” rather than just “everyone by date?”
If your 70 plus, full level 4 or 5 lock down continues.
If your 55 – 70 level 4 lock down continues.
If your 35 – 55 level 3 is activated in one or two weeks.
And and so on…. This would mean some bubbles having to be reconfigured.
Risk of death drops? Risk of infection theoretically confined to more resilient age groups. Business can commence rebuilding. Only problem is this rumour of recovered people possibly becoming re-infected or infectious? If that's proved true, what are we looking a leper colonies?

Not a bad idea but to follow it through you have to do something about multi-generational bubbles - mine has 7 people in it on one property ranging from age 3 to 71 - the govt would have to provide accommodation - say over the over 60s into empty hotel rooms - nobody can stop a lively 3 year old jumping around.

One thing for sure is that when NZ is finally free of this coronavirus, we'll need to ensure that we quarantine all overseas flights (For at least 14 days) in government facilities for some time to come. Especially those coming from the USA since it looks as though Trump isn't really going to do anything to fix their major virus infection problems since it helps him to stay in power.

BBC Coronavirus: Trump defends tweets against US states' lockdowns. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52330531

What a tour de force of an article Keith, I really enjoyed your critical perspective. I might suggest you write about topics outside the humdrum of primary sector topics moreoften! On lifting the lockdown, another week of level 4 then move down the scale, slowly. We keep the seniors and other vulnerable people at home and isolated, gradually let everyone back to work with safe social distancing. On recent developments, our biggest risk is resthomes, they aren't always well run as we know with all too frequent cases of neglect in the media. They could easily become the land based equivalent to Carnival cruiseships. The DHB's will have to take them over in the short term to ensure this doesn't happen.

If we have a spark [ Covid carrier ] we risk an Ozzy bushfire if we exit lockdown. Our testing /contact tracing and isolation systems are inadequate, [although better than before]. The audit results will show just how bad [if JA tells us this week]. Streetwise story above is sobering.My great grandfather not only lost his son in World War 1 but got death duty tax to pay for this loss and could not pay it so lost his farm and livelihood. Could this be the level of carnage we face?

Regards PPE sir stephen tindall worked to save Ardern's bacon.
Coronavirus: How Tindall, Morgan and Fyfe worked to ready country for Covid-19 fight | Stuff.co.nz
https://i.stuff.co.nz/business/120912415/coronavirus-how-tindall-morgan-...
Whatever the decision on monday we will stumble on under this inept govt.

That's ridiculous. What they did is exactly what I would expect from every citizen of this wonderful country, it was exactly what they were able to do. There is no way the prime Minister or any other leader or government employee is going to be able to do everything. Stepping up can be as little as staying home or as big as organising planes but it's what everyone needs to do, and any democratic government will fail if we simply sit waiting to be told.

No THIS is ridiculous... and inept! Who runs the country and is paid handsomely to do so. Instead they left it to chance ...

"Some of us, Sam Morgan and I in particular, realised there was a lot of stuff not getting done. We basically took the bull by the horns along with the guys from Zuru, and used our own money and ordered up a whole heap of PPE gear. There's actually seven planeloads coming. Two have arrived already."

Sir Stephen Tindall underwrote the order ot 50 ventilators to be manufactured in New Zealand. Production begins next week, he believed.

They also worried New Zealand didn't have enough ventilators, and moved to source some to give as many severely ill people the chance of beating infection.

"Of course every ventilator manufacturer in the world was chocka," he said.

A little Kiwi ingenuity followed, and the group has backed niche New Zealand manufacturers around the country to begin manufacture once key parts can be sourced, though efforts to buy ventilators from overseas continued.

Tindall underwrote the purchase of 50 New Zealand-made ventilators at $60,000 each.

"I said to the agent, place the order, and you have got my word I will pay for them, if the Government doesn't," Tindall said."

I wonder if we will have to pay for those ventilators if we don't need them? Maybe can sell or give them to other countries.

who says we dont need them, plenty of hospitals around nz will take some, they are not just for covid

Hmmm....how many in icu at the moment? Perhaps we’ll be getting ventilator bargains at you know ware soon.

Chinese leaders around the world were doing this months before, its no different from our wealthy stepping forward to help NZ.
or would you prefer they sat in their mansions and did nothing
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8167869/Inside-Australian-facto...

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I think that emotions are running high and everyone is concerned. I think that the coming economic and social devastation is going to be horrific....the effects on children currently is awful in particular the ones in households where abuse, neglect and trauma are standard. Very few people are equipped to deal with what is essentially a huge trauma shock. I suspect that the coming ‘mental health’ crisis will gut and destroy some families and people. I have experienced first hand the trauma of losing both parents at an early age to illness and then suicide....the lingering residual which destroys lives....and no one let alone a child should ever have to deal with. There are bigger factors that need to be robustly examined and considered in terms of what the rest of the population is going to need to deal with. I don’t have the answers just a different perspective....trauma is awful on all levels and everyone has it to same degree...I suspect that part of what lies behind this is our cultures inability to accept death.

On the flip side, I've heard lovely stories of families who have, for the first time in years, had the opportunity to spend time with their kids. Our lifestyle the last 10 years or so had become so busy, rushed and demanding, with both parents working to pay high debt and develop careers, that they had no time for their kids. And under that system the kids felt neglected. Talking to the children in my network, they think its great as Mum and Dad are actually 'available' for once. So not all bad news, actually some quite positive.

But I'm sure that isn't the case for all.

Yes, this is one of the rare positives we need to hold on to out of all this. The key is, faced with the spectre of negative equity, do Mum and Dad now have to work even more hours to get back to where they were a month and a half ago? That's if they can keep the house they've bought to provide a stable environment for said kids, because some here believe they should be punished for putting a roof over their family's heads and having the audacity to buy a family home.

" First, did the decision lead to eradication of COVID-19 within New Zealand? Second, did the decision lead to the minimisation of economic damage?"

History will only judge success on minimisation of economic harm. That is because for the vast majority, direct impact of death due to Covid19 will not be felt, but the economic consequence of decisions made by Government will!

An excellent article Keith. On a regular basis, Winston makes announcements undermining Jacinda. He can't seem to stomach that he's only the deputy. I think the writing is on the wall for an extension to Level 4 tomorrow. And that will be her opportunity to show who's boss.

Sorry, Keith. I just can’t buy into this. Our level three restrictions are still up there with the worlds toughest measures. And I keep coming back to this: level four is essential business only, level three is safe business. If a business is safe, it’s safe, and should be allowed under level 3, 4, even 5 at that. I respect your agricultural columns, though.

Any business that can't operate at level 4 is adding more risk in some form. Either there are people moving about to workpalce and mingling, or there are risks of injury on the job requiring treatment and exposing people to each other. There is no such thing as a totally safe job, and if you can't do it under level 4 restrictions then its nowhere near safe.

Keith, interesting article, thanks. There doesn't appear to be a govt Plan B - what if no vaccine eventuates?
Govt planning seems to be predicated on 'elimination' then isolate the country until a vaccine comes along. What if a robust vaccine doesn't arrive?
Who will want to come to a country for a holiday where the first two weeks requires you to be in lock down - because really, can you trust a card, not to be counterfeit/false that says the person carrying it is free from the virus?
A backpacker who was a microbiologist was explaining research they were involved in regarding whooping cough. It was on the rise in the continent they lived in, yet there were countries where it wasn't. Turned out that the countries that didn't have a rise in cases was using an older 'full force' vaccine and those where the disease was on the increase, (this is most of the western world) were using a cut down version as it didn't have as many perceived side effects.
So if we get a COVID vaccine, how are we to know if we are getting the 'full vaccine, or a cut down version?
What is your view on what a potential Plan B, should look like?

Let’s hope and pray we don’t get a vaccine, after reading the information surrounding the Bill Gates agenda. If a vaccine is eventually forced on us, there will be a significant percentage of the population that will resist it. After all, the Bill of Rights allows the right to choose. Anyone, who is slightly open minded and experienced in the front line, dealing with vaccine reactions, will surely run a mile !

If you are really looking for truth, try using critical thinking.
That link is a torrent of unsubstantiated garbage.

No, no they won't. Bloody anti-vaxxers are a plague on society.

Haha, an interesting choice of words, ‘plague’. They are the ones who fight to uphold individual rights and hold our masters accountable for the way they try to control society. It is difficult to accept that open minded, free thinkers who hunt for the truth could ever be a threat to society, just to the elite who are trying to maintain control. Anyway, if the vaccines are so great, those who remain unvaccinated should be no threat !!

As long as the unvaccinated go away and only interact with their ilk, I am okay with that. When there are significant people in a society that choose not to vaccinate, they place the people at risk that cannot vaccinate, or have yet to vaccinate due to age or other circumstances.

Maybe we find an island somewhere where the antivax people can live together and not mess up the herd immunity for the rational portion of the population.

Add a nano chip or whatever with the vaccine hey presto job done it'll be mass surveillance.

Casual Observer,
That is a big topic.
I take some comfort that Peter Doherty, a Nobel Laureate from Australia, with the Nobel awarded for his work in immunology, who thinks that we will get a vaccine within the next year to 18 months. There are good scientific reasons why this is likely. But it is no certainty.
I also think it is highly likely that by then we will have found antivirals that are proven to be effective in greatly reducing the severity of the disease.
But if that also fails, then we are reliant on either allowing the disease to take its toll under a managed system, or perhaps mutates to a less agressive form. I am not confident of the latter (once again because of the specific characteristics of this particular virus) so we may well have to rely on controlled management of the disease and eventual herd immunity if the development of both a vaccine and antivirals fails.
Nevertheless, at present I am an 'apocaloptimist' who believes that either a vaccine or antivirals, or both, will come to the rescue.

Basically, the vaccine does not have to be 100 percent effective, nor does it have to be received by absolutely everyone. The key outcome we need is that it reduces the overall transmission rate, R, below '1'. Those who refuse to take the vaccine will be benefitting from the actions of the rest of us, but as long as they comprise less than around 10% of the population it will be at their own risk. Even at 50% uptake (and I am confident it would be more), it would provide some protection for those most at risk.
KeithW

"Putting all of the politics and uncertainties aside, there was incontrovertible evidence coming from many independent sources that China was stamping hard and was smashing the epidemic."

There are also many independent sources saying the Chinese numbers are horse sh*t and the CCP has lied and silenced those who report the truth. And yet here you drawing inference from highly suspicious Chinese data.

You never seem to miss an opportunity to ignore the truth about the CCP and portray the Chinese government in a positive light. I can only presume this is because your main employer is China friendly and perhaps funded by Chinese money ?

You owe it to yourself and your readers to write articles which have balance and rationality. The remainder of your article has that reflection ~ why not employ this impartiality to the reflections on China ?

11
up

Glitzy,
Presumptions can lead you down false tracks.
Over a period of a year, I typically undertake consultancies for a range of entities, ranging from various NZ government entities, to NZ firms and international firms - most commonly Australia but also sometimes from elsewhere. To the best of my knowledge none of those entities receives money, or has any reason to receive money, from China.
Over a long and varied life, I have had opportunities to work on all continents of the World, even including Antarctica. In relation to Asia and the Pacific, some of the countries I have worked in, typically on developent projects or consultancies, but sometimes undertaking research for various organisations, include Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Japan, Indonesia, East Timor, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, PNG, Kiribati, Tuvalu, and Fiji. And there is a whole raft of other countries in Europe, the Americas (North and South), and to a much lesser extent in Africa, where I have worked and travelled. In amongst those countries and continents, it is not surprising that China, our most important trading partner and the Asian regional leading power, does feature. And yes, those visits have spanned over 47 years.
In relation to my references to China in the above article, I invite you to find any reputable data set that refutes the inference I made that China stamped hard and did smash the epidemic, albeit not yet fully eradicated. It would not matter whether China's deaths were 3000 or 30,000; that inference holds. In fact, if the cases were a lot greater than the official figures, then that would mean that the reduction in transmission rate, R, that they achieved was even greater.
So my invitation to you is if you wish to criticise what I say, then lay out the flaw in the argument rather than making personal attacks. Find the false premise that I have used as a foundation. In doing so, you will find that the arguments I put forward here and elsewhere are independent of whether China and its CCP are good guys or bad guys. If you look closely, you will see that I take great care to keep politics out of what I write, and I doubt very much whether you actually know very much at all about my political beliefs, beyond the inference that they will have been shaped, amongst other experiences of life, by exposure to many political and cultural systems.
KeithW

Good to know you take great care to keep politics out of it. I shared your last article on level 3 widely, but chose not to share this one based on the words, “If history shows that the Government got it right, then Prime Minister Ardern will identified by many as the greatest New Zealand leader of all time”.

I would support a Royal Commission to investigate the actions of various players after this calms down. I’m particularly interested in getting Dr Bloomfield to appear and give us the full timeline over the commemoration on 15/3. I suspect Ardern has been extremely economical with the truth over that and other announcements. Trump would be proud of her.

Ex Expat
Yes, that is fair enough.
But even then I was trying to convey how I think history would look at it, rather than my own personal opinion. And in writing that, I ran through in my mind all of our previous Prime Ministers since the 1940s and asked myself how, if eradication is achieved, she would be regarded by history in comparison.
I have also acknowledged her ability to be on top of issues and able to conduct daily press conferences and answer questions in a way that very few other leaders seem able to do. But whether or not I support all of the myriad of the Government's positions on other issues, is another matter. I try and take issues one at a time, based on evidence, and that can lead to getting people upset with me right across the political spectrum.
KeithW

Since you wrote this ""A consequence of this is that as at 18 April we have more than 60 health workers who are presumed to have been infected in the workplace. This includes a large number of rest-home carers. This gets me more than a little angry."" we can deduce you are not a fanatic supporter of our govt right or wrong. Clearly our prime Minister and Dr Bloomfield are good at public relations at a time that is very important. Whether they responded with sufficient vigour early enough is for a royal commission to investigate. A commission that doesn't scapegoat but does identify successes and failures. One lesson I hope we have learned is Massey University's proposal to cut back on Science and Maths was really dumb.

Keith,

Thanks for your reply. You seem to take issue with me questioning why your articles cherry pick how you choose to portray China. This isnt a personal attack, I dont know you. I read your articles and my perception is that you are choosing to create a false narrative in the articles you write. The criticism is of the article not you personally. Please understand the difference.

Let's look at your article above. You have referenced dubious China data without commenting on the accuracy of the data that is published by Chinese authorites. In your response above you have challenged me to refute that the Chinese have "stamped out" the virus.

The Chinese didn't stamp out the Virus Keith, they silenced the whistleblower who later died. They lied about the extent of the issues in Wuhan. They have lied about the death toll. They lied to the WHO about the extent of the outbreak. They have even provided faulty testing kits to the UK. The list of issues is practically endless. Who knows whether they have stamped out the virus ?

As I stated in my initial comment on your article ~I would encourage you to apply the same reflective analysis on your comments related to China that you apply to your rationale for the main points in your articles.

I'm glad that the Contemporary China Research Centre at Victoria University where you work isnt funded by Chinese money. Hopefully that will prevent further bias which has existed in your articles to date.

G.

Glitzy,
Please stop twisting situations involving me to fit your own perspectives.
And please stop making generalised assertions about supposed bias on my part, but without providing any specifics. The issues that you assert are not issues that I have discussed, one way or another.

As for my appointment with Victoria University, it is an honorary one which means there is no normal payment.
Where I have been paid for specific work, it is the result of the Centre holding specific contracts with the NZ Government, and where I have contributed into that work.

You have chosen to accuse me of bias and that bias is because of supposed payments that emanate from China. You have done this more than once. Don't now claim you are not being personal. The time has come for you to stop.
KeithW

Agreed Keith. I will in future simple call out your bias.

My criticism of your articles will continue until you manage to balance your references to China which your articles paint in a glowing yet inaccurate light.

You might note the UK press is reporting evidence of a second wave in China. So much for 'stamping it out'.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8234015/Coronavirus-infections-...

There wont be any references to Chinese money. You have kindly answered the question.

Glitzy,
There is no doubt there will be further breakouts in China. We have always known this, but it is a matter of scale. Their biggest problem in that regard right now is that there are more than 1 million Chinese currently overseas and many would like to return. Like us, China has brought in very strict border controls and a 14 day compulsory quarantine. Most of the recent imported cases have come from Russia, and people crossing from eastern Siberia into the border town of Suifenhe, which is where the railway comes across. Others have come into Beijing in particular on international flights. And yes, there seems to be a local transmission occurring in Jia County in Henan. I expect that we will see China stamp down hard on all of these - they are already doing so.
What happens in China tends to vary somewhat between provinces - the principles come from the centre, but the specifics of application and associated regulations are then determined at provincial and county levels. But the overarching requirement to stamp it out has come from the Centre in Beijng. In many provinces the schools have not yet opened, or are only opening so far for the older age groups. This reflects concern that they don't want to allow any second wave to propagate. And that reflects the fact that COVID-19 is not yet eradicated - every day they publish figures on new infections.
If you go back and look at what I write, I think you might find that I do not write in glowing terms about China. I simply report what information we do have available to us, and what I see as the implications thereof. We all know that China is a very authoritarian State. That does not mean we cannot learn from what is happening there. There are multiple ways of finding out what is happening in that very complex country. In my case, that includes, inter alia, a network of Kiwis who have been living there for many years and whom I have come to know over those years. The long-term residents all know how to bypass the firewall. But as I say, there are multiple sources. One of the things I learned very early on my first trip to China back in 1973 was that things are not always quite the way they are portrayed in the media.
My preference always is that we stick to discussing and analysing specific situations without generic assertions.
KeithW

Presentation of the Santa Clara County testing.
Antibodies testing

https://youtu.be/k7v2F3usNVA
Hoover Institute uncommon knowledge,
Dr Jay Bhattacharya.

Santa Clara population 2.0 million people.

a young person in Wanganui has caught the virus ten days after lockdown and they cant track it, that in itself is a major problem, the young are the most likely to transmit it and without Bluetooth tracking of their phones who knows where they have been and who they met, most young people mix and mingle with hoards of people they dont know

Precisely - this is why schools should remain closed in level 3 - too much risk of asymptomatic transmission undermining everything that has been achieved to date.

just finished watching todays conference and i would say they are going to extend, the very last comment was interesting, JA said our hope is when we move to level 3 we are not there for long.
that tells me they want to get the daily cases to zero in the community with new cases coming from incoming people stopped at the border

Difficult to mind read, but they now concede Issues with the back end. Late condition reports are not helpful. What other issue/condition areas are there.

https://www.odt.co.nz/news/national/lockdown-decision-come-tomorrow

She made two pleas to New Zealanders: "If you even have a sniffle or a sore throaght, get a test.

"And record you movements as if we may come and interview you tomorrow to find out who you've been with." - keep a diary (don't bet on an app or a card).

Dr Bloomfield said the Ministry of Health's contact tracing system was "not particularly easy" to get information out of, and it was being updated "at pace" and might be at a gold standard within a week.

Translation of the snippet "contact tracing system was not particularly easy to get information out of, and it was being updated at pace":

The sucking thing is sucking antiquated, our last COBOL code-cutter expired from sucking overwork, and we have Stood Up a working group who are scouring the planet for a replacement which can Undoubtedly Be Purchased, implemented and tested, within 7 days....starting Monday 0930 after coffee and a Risk Assessment session.

3 studies to consider when throwing the eradication Hail Mary:

1. The Santa Clara study showing huge numbers of asymptomatic carriers.
2. The Dutch blood test study in which they tested 10,000 blood donations and found 3% had antibodies which when scaled up to the Dutch population equates to half a million invisible infections - the official count in the Netherlands is 30,000 I think
3. The Homeless Shelter in the US randomly tested with 30% of inhabitants testing positive - only 1 being symptomatic.

You're dreaming if you think this can get eradicated. You have a better chance of building 100,000 houses in 10 years.

They went for a target of 100,000 and missed that, now they are going for a target of zero. Maybe they think they have a better chance of reaching a target if the number is lower. :-)

Not quite accurate. The Santa Clara study showed that there was a substantial portion of the population that had already had CV19. This doesn't mean that they were carriers at the time of testing, but instead that they already have had CV19 and had developed antibodies. A corollary to this test is that the true mortality rate for CV19 is far lower than taking the headline deaths and divided by confirmed cases. Keith has opined in the past that we do not know the denominator. It may be that our understanding of what the denominator is, is too small by well over an order of magnitude and possibly closer to two orders of magnitude if the Santa Clara study is accurate.

I am happy with the decision if, and only if, whoever makes the decision is responsible by law for their actions. If they make the wrong decision and if people die, they will do time in prison proportional to the number of deaths.

Think your view might be getting a bit extreme. We're getting told (per comments above) that people will die regardless of decision. Remove lock down too early - people might die of Covid19....remove it too late and people might commit suicide. How would one make the right decision in this instance then go to prison for others deaths?

Fair comment, but if they go to level 3 from 4 and the deaths shoot up exponentially from COVID-19 I believe that there must be a consequence for the decision maker.

Cripes who would ever want a job if you were in charge.

I feel we will get two more weeks..

Agreed. We still have 500ish active cases which is 5x the number when we locked down, we have not got any days of 0 cases much less consecutive days so still have transmission within bubbles, we seem to have issues with PPE or it's use as medical staff continue to contract the virus and we have very relaxed unmonitored quarantine procedures.

"Agreed. We still have 500ish active cases which is 5x the number when we locked down,"

Who will all be in isolation, which was not the case when we locked down (because they didn't know they had it).

"so still have transmission within bubbles"

Transmission within bubbles is not of any particular concern if everyone is self-isolating.

True but how many of the current active cases, rest homes for instance, are identified, contained and transmission restricted to with in. Take them out of the equation and then what’s left must be the size of our actual problem case by case for the wider community. Why doesn’t a journalist ask for those figures for heavens sake.

Jacinda and Bloomfield have been very disingenuous, saying the public get access to the same information as the ministry does and therefore will be able to judge for themselves whether we should move out of level 4 or not tomorrow.

The key difference is we are simply told the total of new cases each day. We don't get told how many new cases were transmission within bubbles / households, vs how many are amongst new arrivals in the country.

There's a huge difference between 15 new cases with all 15 of them being within bubble or from travellers, vs only 5 of those 15 cases being in those two classes.

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