Certain and uncertain consequences of Covid lockdown

The lockdown of New Zealand will have some obvious consequences, but other consequences are less certain.

The near isolation of most people in their homes with some exceptions and exemptions will reduce the spread of the virus in the short term at least, and should keep the death toll lower than it would otherwise have been. The longer term health outcomes are less certain, it is dependent on short term success, improvements in treatment and the time taken to develop an effective vaccine.

It is certain there will be a substantial impact on the economy and an increase in unemployment. It is unknown how bad, and for how long – we don’t know if the economy will bounce back or if we will be in for a protracted recession, or whether it will deteriorate into a depression.

Sport was a prominent early casualty of the virus, and the flow on effect will be substantial for a year or two at least. Many sports have shut down for the short term at least. The Olympic Games have been delayed by a year.

There are other certainties and uncertainties. One significant uncertainty is how long the lockdown will be in place, and if it is relaxed by how much and for how long. For example we may be allowed to go back to work but still need to limit travel around the country.

Road toll

The lockdown means far fewer vehicles on the streets and roads, and shorter trips, so the road toll will come down for a while at least. There are already signs of this – the number of deaths from 1 January to 1 April 2020 are already down slightly, being 84 (for the same period in the four previous years the toll was 90, 92, 105, 100).

Drownings

There is likely to be reduction in the number of deaths by drowning at least for the duration of the lockdown. Over the last three years total deaths have been 92, 78, 82.

Accidental and workplace deaths

Deaths in the workplace will reduce significantly while the lockdown is in place.In the year to January 2020 there were an average of 9.4 deaths per month, with 10 bin both last March and April.

Accidental deaths will probably also reduce, but they could still occur at home as people do more work on houses and rooves without being able to get scaffolding.

Suicides

It’s uncertain what the overall effect of the lockdown will have on our suicide rate.Some people will be more stressed, some will be less stressed. Being confined to home won’t stop some going out and at least trying, but the lockdown will reduce opportunities and increase contact and surveilance of at risk people.

There were a record 685 recorded suicides in the year to June 2019.

Relationships

The lockdown effect on relationships will be uneven and uncertain. Some relationships will be more stressed, some may benefit from more time together. Being confined to home during the lockdown their may be a lag in relationship breakups.

There will be less temptation and opportunity for infidelity and jealousy.

Family Time

Some parents and children will benefit from having enforced time together

Infectious and Communicable Diseases

Following on from the effect on relationships, there is likely to be less promiscuity and fewer sexually transmitted diseases.

It won’t just be the spread of Covid-19  that is limited, the lockdown will also reduce the cold, flu, hepatitis, measles and all other communicable diseases.

Schools being closed will improve the health of kids, and nits should be contained more than usual.

Other Health Issues

Along with the lockdown hospitals have geared up for treating Covid-19 patients by reducing operations and treatments. There could be a negative impact on health, which could result in more deaths from delayed or unavailable treatment and delayed diagnosis and detection of diseases.

Media

Traditional commercial media – newspapers, magazines, radio and television – were already struggling and in decline. They will be severely impacted by the hit to business activity, which has taken most of their revenue away (ironically while getting a big boost in readership and audience).


This is just some of the things that will be impacted by the Covid lockdown. It will take a year or two to quantify some of the impacts, and some impacts may never be quantified.

There are some certainties but many uncertainties, and there will be both positive and negative outcomes.

We are stuck with what we have got for now, we should be doing what we can to make something out of the change in opportunities – including not grumping and grizzling too much about things we can’t change..