New Zealand Covid-19 lockdown well timed, well executed and life saving

I think that a large number of New Zealanders were relieved yesterday when the Government announced a rapid planned transition to lockdown of all but essential services and businesses in the country, initially for a 4 week period, but likely to run for months if not the rest of the year and beyond to some degree (we may switch between levels).

Many parents were very relieved that schools will be closed –

Looking at practicalities here and experiences overseas the timing is probably close to the best that could be expected. In the future looking back there may be things that could be seen to have been done better, but this is an unprecedented situation with huge decisions having to be done to save lives – a study suggests potentially up to 100,000 lives if nothing was done to limit the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. See ODT – Stark picture in worst-case scenario

Newsroom: We’re going into lockdown. Here’s why

Overseas estimates in a paper from the Imperial College London found that taking no action to fight the virus could leave 250,000 dead in the United Kingdom and 2.2 million in the United States. Taking “mitigation” measures – known cases self-isolate, as do their families and all people over 70 self-quarantine – would only halve the death toll. But “suppression” measures, which would involve reducing physical contact to the bare minimum, working from home and closing schools, can cut the toll by 90 percent.

The modelling for New Zealand is just as stark. Figures based on the Imperial College London paper and released this morning by the University of Otago show that 100,000 New Zealanders would be killed if no action was taken and 90 percent of the population was infected.

“In the worst-case scenario, the models are starkly clear: up to 90 percent of the population could end up getting infected and up to 100,000 people in New Zealand could die. Our health system would not be able to cope with demand and lots of people would not get the treatment they needed,” University of Canterbury Professor Michael Plank, who helped with the University of Otago’s modelling, told the Otago Daily Times.

In her address to the nation, Ardern said projections she had seen were equally compelling. “If community transmission takes off in New Zealand, the number of cases will double every five days. If that happens unchecked, our health system will be inundated, and tens of thousands New Zealanders will die,” she said.

So how long are we confined to our homes (and sections)? Four weeks initially, but that’s just a wait and see starter. It’s more likely to be months and quite possibly many – until a vaccine is available.

As this Newsroom analysis shows, these suppression measures would have to be in place more or less constantly until a vaccine is ready – approximately 18 months away. They could be relaxed slightly when cases dropped for a short period of time – roughly two months on lockdown, one month off – but this would have to be carefully monitored to avoid an outbreak that would overwhelm the health system and spiral out of control.

The phased lockdown plan here looks textbook.

Saturday’s announcement of a four level alert system, with an immediate move to level 2, This looked like it was just preparing the population for what was to come. On Monday we switched up to level 3, moving to alert level 4 at 11:59 pm on Wednesday.

We are fortunate that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is a very good communicator with experience dealing with crises, but this is much bigger than anything most of us have experienced in our lifetimes. Remember carless days? That seems quaint and trivial in comparison.

We are now in Covid-19 level 3, which means for most of us:

Staying at home – what it means

What you must do

We are currently at Level 3, but are preparing to move to Level 4.

We will move to COVID-19 alert level 4 at 11.59pm on Wednesday 25 March.

What that means for you is that New Zealanders who are outside of essential services must stay at home and stop all interactions with others outside of those in your households.

We know that this is a big ask. Eradicating the disease is vital to protect people’s health and ensure our health system can cope and look after New Zealanders who become sick.

You may go for a walk or exercise and enjoy nature, but keep a 2 metre distance from people at all times. You can take your children outside.

Food will always be available – production will continue, distribution will continue, supermarkets will continue. You will always have access to food.

Medicines will always be available.

Healthcare for those that need it will be available.

Your usual financial support, like benefits, will continue as normal.

Remember whatever you do must be solitary. We are asking that you only spend time with those who you are in self-isolation with, and keep your distance from all others at all times.

More details and a long list of ‘essential services’ here: Current COVID-19 alert level – but remember that this is just level 3, things will ramp up to level 4 after tomorrow.

Here at home we were already prepared for this so yesterday provided clarity and was a relief more than anything, with a large does of surreal.

Be strong, be kind and support anyone you can. If you need help hopefully you can find it close to you, many communities are rallying together to help each other.

Leave a comment

31 Comments

  1. David

     /  24th March 2020

    Surely if she monitors the border properly and quarantines new arrivals for 14 days and IF the lockdown is adhered too then we should be virus free in a couple of weeks. Dont get why the domestic economy has to be shut down for the rest of the year…there is no way its possible to “house arrest” the country for months on end as compliance would start collapsing and there would be no businesses left to rescue and the government would have no money left.
    She has 30 days at max because today is the peak day of support for this move.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  24th March 2020

      What is the point of eliminating if your border security is still crap?

      Reply
    • “we should be virus free in a couple of weeks”

      Possibly if everyone does what they are supposed to do. But the next two weeks would be needed to confirm that it has been stopped.

      But it could be difficult. ODT this morning:

      The Southern District Health Board have revealed four new Otago cases, and is warning of two separate visits to Dunedin Hospital by positive cases.

      Only one of the cases matches the Ministry of Health list released this afternoon, but it is unclear the other three cases are in addition to the 36 cases announced by the Ministry today.

      All cases were in isolation and around 100 close contacts are being identified and tracked by Public Health staff.

      So four people with the virus, 100 close contacts that have been identified, but there’s no guarantee that’s all, all it would take is for one person with Covid going to the supermarket, touching a trolley or basket, touching goods they don’t take. hen possibly spreading to a checkout, which then exposes the operator and any subsequent customers.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  24th March 2020

        Exactly. So get virus free and the next one walks off a plane and into the supermarket.

        Reply
    • Blazer

       /  24th March 2020

      Look on it as a snapshot of when needs were elevated above…wants!

      Reply
  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  24th March 2020

    Those figures don’t make sense. 250k dead in 66M UK pop is 0.4%. 2.2M dead in 330M US is 0.7%. 100k dead in 4.8M NZ is 2.1%.

    Someone doesn’t know what they are doing or scaremongering.

    Reply
    • David

       /  24th March 2020

      Stanford University have done the numbers on that cruise ship that was quarantined as its probably the only accurate measure we have given everyone was tested. The mortality rate is .4%. They took into account age etc. on the boat and society.
      63% of “younger” people in ICU in the UK are obese or morbidly obese.
      The average age of the dead in Italy is 79.5 years and they have 2.5 other underlying serious health conditions.

      Reply
  3. David

     /  24th March 2020

    So answer me this I am renovating an investment property I just bought around the corner from home and I cant spend vast sums on tradies so will do most of the work myself over the next 4 weeks. Am I allowed to go there and work by myself given technically its my house.

    The wife is working from home so best to be out from under each others feet for a month.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  24th March 2020

      Can’t see a problem if you are on your own. What about our gardener and mower man? Can’t see a problem with them continuing to work.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  24th March 2020

        Don’t be funny, that’s not essential work..

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  24th March 2020

          So exactly where is the non-zero risk from them continuing to work and what do you think our lawns will look like after weeks if not months without them?

          Reply
          • Blazer

             /  24th March 2020

            ever thought of mowing them yourself instead of reinforcing your title as the Lord of the Trolls..a.k.a the Keri Keri lemon sucker.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  24th March 2020

              Thanks for the title, Mini-Troll. We live on hillsides. Much is done with a big weed-eater. A job for professionals, young and strong.

  4. lurcher1948

     /  24th March 2020

    As someone said on talkback this morning,every damn plague seems to come from China, .When you eat rats and bats, koalas and snakes alive,you cause lots of plagues….don’t like communist China,and their disgusting eating habits it tends to kill the world and us

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  24th March 2020

      They don’t eat rats and koalas; where would they get koalas from ? They don’t eat animals alive, that’s racist propaganda.

      Nor does the disease come from bats, that’s been disproved,

      People in the West eat snakes, too, and frogs. Also living shellfish, sausages whose skins are animals’ bowels that shit has passed through, sheep brains, cow and sheep tongues, pigs’ feet, kidneys (urine filters), insects and other such things….small song birds are eaten whole, beaks and bones as well as meat.

      They also forcefeed geese to make their livers grossly fat and then kill the geese and eat the liver.

      Hedgehogs are still eaten in the West.

      Reply
      • lurcher1948

         /  24th March 2020

        Wow,are you on the Chinese donation list?Kitty that will upset the National party….they love Chinese money
        PS if I catch the Chinese flu I will be angry then possibly dead

        Reply
        • Viruses don’t have nationalities, as the spread of Covid-19 around the world shows. It’s not influenza.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  24th March 2020

            They have origins though.

            Reply
          • Duker

             /  24th March 2020

            Virus do have ‘nationalities ‘
            This is the US CDC list of current flu vaccine strains
            A/Brisbane/02/2018 (H1N1)pdm09-like virus (updated)
            A/Kansas/14/2017 (H3N2)-like virus (updated)
            B/Colorado/06/2017-like (Victoria lineage) virus
            B/Phuket/3073/2013-like (Yamagata lineage) virus

            What do you think Brisbane, Kansas, Colorado, Phuket are ?
            https://www.cdc.gov/flu/season/faq-flu-season-2019-2020.htm
            The other name for CV-19 is Wuhan virus, doesnt worry if either is used

            Reply
            • “What do you think Brisbane, Kansas, Colorado, Phuket are ?”

              Not nationalities.

              I know Covid-19 is sometimes called other things, but more for political purposes or blame diverting than anything.

            • Gezza

               /  24th March 2020

              Trump called it the Chinese virus in a couple of early briefings (maybe didn’t even know it originated in Wuhan & was commonly referred to very early on as the Wuhan virus).

              A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman then retaliated by repeating several times on state tv a conspiracy theory that a US Military team had brought it to China as a biological warfare agent during military games in 2019.

              When Trump got wind of that he called them out for this outlandish claim & he has doubled down & called it the Chinese virus on numerous occasions ever since.

            • Gezza

               /  24th March 2020

              The only other member of Trump’s team who I’ve heard call it the Chinese virus is Pompeo, his Secretary of State, who was obviously just aping his boss during one of Trump’s Covid-19 Task Force daily briefings. The other Task Force team members don’t seem to use that term.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  24th March 2020

              Well, it is a bit ambiguous as so many nasty ones come from China. However in current context it is not causing any uncertainty at all.

      • Blazer

         /  24th March 2020

        Bats are a very well known carrier of diseases infecting humans.

        Reply
  5. artcroft

     /  24th March 2020

    Here is a piece they graphs the differences between doing nothing, mitigation (social distancing) and suppression (lock down). This seems to be the ideas that the Govt is working off. The author is strongly in support of suppression arguing that an initial hammer attack at the virus could be followed by a longer containment period when business would be open but testing ramped up. Its all about keeping virus reproduction numbers below 1.

    I found it informative but unconvincing. I still think mitigation the best policy.
    View at Medium.com

    Reply
  6. Griff.

     /  24th March 2020

    The Quickening:

    It took 67 days from the first report of Covid-19 to reach 100,000 cases, 11 days for the second 100,000, and just four days for the third 100,000.

    The world is on track to reach the fourth 100,000 in less than 36 hrs, and the fifth in less than 24 hours.

    Reply
    • Maggy Wassilieff

       /  24th March 2020

      2 days ago we had 66 confirmed cases… now we have 155.
      So we have a doubling time of less than 2 days.

      Reply
  7. Gezza

     /  24th March 2020

    Worth a smile. I remember watching Trump giving this Covid-19 Task Force briefing live on AlJazeera tv. Watch what Dr Fauci does …

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/120525482/coronavirus-dr-anthony-fauci-says-he-cant-jump-in-front-of-the-microphone-when-trump-talks

    This the same briefing where Trump called it the “Chinese Virus”, so, when he got called up to the mic, Mike Pompeo called it that too.

    Reply
  8. duperez

     /  24th March 2020

    The Genius-in-Chief strikes again:

    ‘“Trump highlighted his efforts to make the anti-malaria drug chloroquine available, once again suggesting it could be effective in treating the coronavirus. Some very early research has suggested it might be useful, but it remains largely untested.

    Today a man in Arizona died after ingesting the drug in an attempt to stop himself from becoming infected. His wife, who also took it, is in critical care.

    “The one that I’m very excited about is one we just mentioned. I think there’s a real chance. We don’t know. There’s a real chance that it could have a tremendous impact. It would be a gift from god if that worked,” said Trump.”I think a lot of people are going to be, hopefully, they’ll be very happy with the result. We’re all going to be watching closely.

    “It’s been very successful with malaria. Very successful. Countries with malaria have had an interesting thing happen. They take this particular drug, it’s a very powerful drug. There’s very little semblance of the virus in those countries.

    “There are those that say, because this drug is very prevalent because of the malaria. We’ll see what happens.”

    The countries in question are located in Africa, which has indeed reported relatively few cases of the virus. But that may be due to its low level of testing.” 😷

    news.com.au: Sam Clench

    Reply

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