Government want police at isolation facilities, but Association unhappy

Minister in charge of Covid isolation facilities Megan Woods announced today there would be a permanent police presence at all isolation and quarantine facilities, but the Police Association says it is

Managed isolation and quarantine update

Following a second incident in which a person escaped from a managed isolation facility, security is being enhanced, including more police presence onsite, Minister Megan Woods said.

“The actions of some individuals who choose to break the very clear rules to stay within the facilities means that more resourcing is needed to protect other New Zealanders from the risk they may present.

“This behaviour is incredibly disappointing, but we are determined to maintain the freedoms we enjoy as New Zealanders in one of the few countries in the world who are free of community transmission of COVID.

“Air Commodore Darryn Webb and I have been speaking with New Zealand Police about implementing further security measures, and there will now be a permanent police presence at each facility,” Megan Woods said.

By tomorrow there will be one police officer stationed at each facility 24/7.

Extra senior security staff will also be added to each facility and security fencing has been boosted.

“All outdoor physical security around facilities that require fencing, including exercise and smoking areas, will have 6 foot high fencing installed by the end of today,” said Darryn Webb.

A lot of people and resources going into trying to stop a small number of people from not following the rules.

But (RNZ):  Police at isolation facilities may mean public less safe – police union

Police Association president Chris Cahill told RNZ’s Checkpoint the move had political elements, and was not the best use of police resources.

He said there was certainly an element of a feel good factor, and it was a distinct possibility that it would mean the public was less safe than otherwise.

“Is that the best priority? To feel good, if it doesn’t actually have a dramatic change in the security of those facilities? … I don’t believe it does.

“I think there’s a degree of making it look that politicians are doing the utmost they can – and I understand that, and New Zealanders want the utmost to be done – but I don’t believe that requires 24/7 police presence.”

He said to fully staff and monitor the managed isolation facilities would take between 150 and 200 police officers who were needed in the community.

“We’ve got police districts that don’t have many more than 200, 250 sworn staff, some of our smaller police districts, so it’s a significant number. It’s certainly not a core policing role.

As simple as this – there will not be cops available to attend family harm incidents, to attend injuries, to attend burglaries, to be on the roads patrolling for dangerous drivers. They have to come from somewhere and that’s the front line.

“This is a job that can be done by aviation security staff, customs staff, immigration staff – the people that aren’t fully utilised due to Covid issues that are created at the border.”

He believed Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield could give those staff the powers they needed to do the job just as effectively as police.

There were already 400 Defence Force troops stationed at the facilities and, he argued, there was not much need to have police there as well.

And security staff.

“If there was clear evidence that police powers were required regularly because people were trying to break the quarantine rules that would be understandable, but there’s no evidence supporting that.

“Policing can be called in when there is a significant issue of someone not following the rules but we’ve only seen two people that appear to have breached those rules so it’s not an issue of having all these officers standing around wating for that to happen.

“I think you have to be realistic. Two runners out of thousands of people that have gone into quarantine is not a great number and my information is only one of those was deliberate, one of them was ignorance.”

Is a 24/7 police presence necessary to protect the public from Covid (presuming the police would be able to stop all ‘escapes’ from facilities)?

Or is the Government putting too many resources and too much money into it to try to avoid the bad political look of people and virus leaks?

4 new Covid cases, review cites ‘extreme stress’ of isolation system

Four new cases of Covid have been announced today, all people who have recently arrived back in new Zealand (from India and Nepal) and were being managed in isolation. One man in his 30s was taken by ambulance to Auckland Hospital yesterday and is said to be in a stale condition. That is the first case in hospital for quite a while.

Of the 2,159 people who left managed isolation facilities between June 9 and June 16, after mandatory day three and day 12 testing was brought in and before compassionate leave was withdrawn:

  • test results are still pending for 342 people
  • there are still 427 people the ministry hasn’t been able to get hold of, despite repeated attempts
  • 137 people who will not be tested because of reasons such as being a child, being part of repositioning crew, currently being overseas or refusing a test
  • 79 people have refused testing.
As at 9.00 am, 28 June 2020
Total Change in last 24 hours
Number of confirmed cases in New Zealand 1,176 4
Number of probable cases 350 0
Number of confirmed and probable cases 1,526 4
Number of recovered cases 1,484 0
Number of deaths 22 0
Number of active cases 20 4
Number of cases currently in hospital 1 1

 

Meanwhile the Managed isolation and quarantine review has just been released.

RNZ: NZ’s managed isolation system not broken, but under ‘extreme stress’ – review

A review of the country’s managed isolation and quarantine system has found it to be under “extreme stress” and unable to respond to the increasing demands being placed on it as more New Zealanders return home.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ordered the review on June 17 on the same day she announced she was appointing Air Commodore Darryn Webb to conduct the review and oversee border management.

Air Commodore Webb, along with Housing Minister Megan Woods – who has been appointed the minister-in-charge of quarantine and isolation facilities – announced the outcome of the review at Parliament today.

While the review found the system wasn’t “broken” it revealed the increased number of people returning to New Zealand and going into managed isolation was putting pressure on accommodation facilities and staff were only able to respond to daily challenges.

The review also identified there was an absence of standardised information for those returning to New Zealand and often the first they knew of MIQ was when they had a health check on arrival at the airport.

In many cases returning passengers weren’t even aware MIQ was required.

Other issues identified in the review were flight manifestos not being received until the inbound aircraft departs its overseas origin, which makes planning ahead of flights almost impossible and leaves little time for changes, particularly for flights from Australia.

There is also limited understanding of future demand making it difficult to do any long-range planning of the system.


Managed isolation and quarantine review

The government has today released the review of the Managed Isolation and Quarantine and outlined the actions that are being taken to respond to issues highlighted by the review.

Head of Managed Isolation and Quarantine Air Commodore Darryn Webb says significant changes have already been introduced and work is urgently underway to address other issues raised in the review report.

Last week Air Commodore Webb announced a doubling of the on-the-ground Defence Force staff of 32, across 18 facilities. As of today, we have 168 NZDF personnel across 21 facilities providing 24/7 coverage. There are also more government and defence staff across the end-to-end system.

“This increased resourcing has had an immediate impact on the ground in terms of making sure our people are well supported to carry out their roles and ensure the safe transfer of returnees into managed isolation.

“The increase in resourcing will form the backbone of further changes that are being made to ensure the system is robust and fit-for-purpose.

“We have also increased oversight of the transfer of returnees from aircraft through to Managed Isolation and Quarantine facilities so they are escorted by government staff.”

Other improvements rolling out now include:

  • Increased security for transferring returnees to managed isolation facilities
  • The standardisation of procedures across all facilities
  • The introduction of better information for returnees – from flight boarding through to entry into New Zealand and their exit from Managed Isolation.
  • Better information to communities where those facilities are located.
  • Strengthening of demand forecasting, reporting functions and coordination between agencies.

Health responses include:

  • More staff in facilities
  • Improved model of care – including taking into account issues like mental health and addiction issues
  • More clinical oversight to ensure a consistent quality of service in facilities
  • Monitoring to ensure there is consistency across facilities

“All staff supporting this process are performing to a very high standard, and have been doing so over a long period of sustained and increasing pressure. I would like to acknowledge and thank them for their ongoing work and dedication to the job. I am committed to ensuring they have the support and structures that they need to deliver well- functioning Managed Isolation and Quarantine for all New Zealanders,” Air Commodore Webb says.

Another Covid isolation shambles – shared use apartment building

More shambles – Hotel residents concerned over reports of quarantined travellers arriving

News that 12 busloads of people are going into quarantine at Stamford Plaza Hotel in central Auckland today has residents who live atop the building worried, but authorities say no decision has been made on using the hotel.

The apartments on top of the eight floor hotel are home to about 300 people, many of whom are older and at higher risk of severe complications or death if they catch the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Speaking at a media conference this afternoon, where he revealed that the country had two new cases of Covid-19, director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said: “The point I will make is that over the two months to the beginning of June when we’ve been using managed isolation facilities, we have not seen any new infections as a result. So our procedures are good.”

He said that included no new infections for staff, who have been tested, especially during alert levels three and four.

“We’re now in a position where we will have caught up with (tested) everybody who will have come in from June the 9th.”

They should never have been is a situation where a catch up was required.

He said the issue with shared facilities was ensuring that people were separated. He has visited one and the extent that processes were in place was “quite remarkable”.

“It’s an ongoing work but I will point to the fact that we have not had any cases coming out of our managed isolation facilities in over 19,000 Kiwis that have come through in the past couple of months.”

Share facilities is nuts.

MEDIA STATEMENT: From Air Commodore Darryn Webb On Two New Cases (+ Statement On Stamford Hotel)

I would like to clarify a statement was made earlier today regarding the use of the Stamford Hotel.

I can confirm that the Stamford Hotel has not been used as a managed isolation facility. I can also confirm that, as part of our normal process to assess the suitability of a hotel as a facility, the Stamford is being assessed as a facility. However, no final decisions have been made.

Using an apartment building with 300 permanent residents for Covid quarantine is nuts. Who is thinking of doing this?

Still getting mixed messages on allowable recreation

The Director-General of Health issued a Health Act Order yesterday that tried to clarify a number of things related to the Level 4 lockdown, including Permissions for essential personal movement which includes:

For the purposes of clause 1 of this order the following are permitted as essential personal movement:

Limited recreation arrangements
e.    a person leaving their residence for the purpose of recreation or exercise if-
iii.   it does not involve swimming, water based activities (for example, surfing or boating), hunting, tramping, or other activities of a kind that expose participants to danger or may require search and rescue services.

Section 70(1)(f) notice to all persons in New Zealand – 3 April 2020 [PDF, 1.4 MB]

But in the Covid-19 newsletter emailed out this afternoon it is a bit different:

Q. Can I go surfing, boating or tramping?

A. Rescue services do not want to be out rescuing people who get into trouble. Don’t go tramping, hunting, fishing, surfing, swimming, or boating, mountain biking or for long drives or long runs/bike rides, or any other non-essential activity where you might need to force rescue service personnel out of their own isolation, or take up valuable health service resources if you have an accident.

Remember, you can’t ever guarantee that you won’t get into trouble. The Police will determine what enforcement measures to take.

The newsletter includes “mountain biking or for long drives or long runs/bike rides” and also fishing which aren’t  specified in the Order.

They should be able to get on the same message on this.

 

Day 2 of isolation – time to ponder our way of living

So far for me isolation at home is easy. I have very good company, and I have spent all days this week working from home anyway, so yesterday was much the same.

I’m enjoying working from home, but after a busy start to the week as clients were busy setting themselves up to work from home and rushing to get payrolls done before closing offices, it was noticeably quieter yesterday. I have other work I can do, but I don’t know if it will last four weeks.

Some messages from NZ First MPs.

A reversal:

Guardian environment editor – Coronavirus: ‘Nature is sending us a message’, says UN environment chief

Nature is sending us a message with the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing climate crisis, according to the UN’s environment chief, Inger Andersen.

Andersen said humanity was placing too many pressures on the natural world with damaging consequences, and warned that failing to take care of the planet meant not taking care of ourselves.

Leading scientists also said the Covid-19 outbreak was a “clear warning shot”, given that far more deadly diseases existed in wildlife, and that today’s civilisation was “playing with fire”. They said it was almost always human behaviour that caused diseases to spill over into humans.

To prevent further outbreaks, the experts said, both global heating and the destruction of the natural world for farming, mining and housing have to end, as both drive wildlife into contact with people.

I’ve heard others make links between the virus and climate change and the environment and I think it is dubious at best.

Sure if the human population was a tenth what it is and no one travelled apart from walking then viruses and other contagious diseases would spread less quickly and less far, but I don’t think modern humans are any more responsible for naural mutations than past civilisations.

Aaron Bernstein, at the Harvard School of Public Health in the US, said the destruction of natural places drives wildlife to live close to people and that climate change was also forcing animals to move: “That creates an opportunity for pathogens to get into new hosts.”

“We’ve had Sars, Mers, Covid-19, HIV. We need to see what nature is trying to tell us here. We need to recognise that we’re playing with fire,” he said.

“The separation of health and environmental policy is a ​dangerous delusion. Our health entirely depends on the climate and the other organisms we share the planet with.”

Maybe, but 7.8 billion people need somewhere to live and need food to survive.

The Covid-19 crisis may provide an opportunity for change, but Cunningham is not convinced it will be taken: “I thought things would have changed after Sars, which was a massive wake up call – the biggest economic impact of any emerging disease to that date,” he said.

What sort of change? Reversing population growth?

Here from Newsroom: Covid-19 may be just what climate change needs

Big jolts wake us up and force us to act today. Gina Williams looks at how the Covid-19 pandemic might give us the chance to redesign our society to combat climate change.

Things like no cars, no meat, no international travel, no business or commercialism?

Right now use of cars is limited of course, but they help us keep in our bubbles going to supermarkets to get food. If everyone had to walk to a local dairy for provisions it would be much harder to lock down the virus.

Nature has always had ways of checking and limiting and reducing species of plants and animals that grow too prolifically.

Should we just let Covid-19 to knock the population  back? That would be getting back to nature, letting nature take it’s course.

There’s been a bit of idealist opportunism alongside the rapid sweep of Covid-19. Now is not a good time to make maajor knee jerk changes. We are in survival mode. lets get through the next year and then see what we should be doing differently.


But maybe with most of us confined to our homes with a lot less to do this could be a good time to contemplate the situation we and our society become, and to consider better ways of living.

There already seems to have been renewed interest in growing more food at home and cooking and baking from raw ingredients rather than relying on fast food and packets.

We will also have to work harder on relationships. Many of us will be spending a lot more time with a few people close to us for longer than usual.

There could be an opportunity for online nutrition advice and relationship counselling – but perhaps we should be working things out for ourselves more rather than relying on paid for quick fixes that often don’t work for long or at all.

 

Covid-19 expected to get worse and extend over months if not year

There are signs and warnings around the world that the spread of infections and deaths from the Covid-19, and restrictions on travel and impact on economies, are likely to get worse over months and it its likely to stretch through this year, if not beyond.

The virus is thought to have emerged in China last November, at it quickly escalated by January and took drastic actions in February to (apparently) limit the virus. Italy followed a similar pattern a month or two later, and is now in lockdown and in a dire situation. Spain appears to be following suit.

Drastic restrictions on international travel over the last week show that the expectations are for similar problems elsewhere. The US closed their borders to most of Europe and that looks like being extended. On Saturday New Zealand virtually closed our borders, Australia announced similar yesterday.

I have heard from someone involved in health in Australia that there are predictions they will be in full disaster mode in April, and plans are being put in place for the next 6-12 months.

This lines up with what is developing here. Travel restrictions will be reviewed early April, but some measures already extend well beyond that. Cruise ships are banned from coming her until “at least 30 June 2020”. Jacinda Ardern:

All of this points to one strategy which has guided our decision making – spread the cases, and flatten the curve.

That spread, if successful, will take months at least.

It is not realistic for New Zealand to have only a handful of cases.

The international evidence proves that is not realistic, and so we must plan and prepare for more cases.

But, the scale of how many cases we get and how fast we get them is something we should do as much as we can to slow. That is how we ensure health services are there for those who need them most.

In conclusion, we have two choices as a nation. One is to let COVID-19 roll on, and brace.

The second is to go hard on measures to keep it out, and stamp it out – not because we can stop a global pandemic from reaching us, but because it is in our power to slow it down.

I think we should expect this to stretch through this year.

‘Weeks and months’ was also mentioned by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison: Coronavirus quarantine enforced for all people entering Australia, lockdowns on the table

The Prime Minister says there are no plans at this stage for mass school closures, but concedes further disruptions to daily life will be announced in coming weeks and months.

“We’re going to have to get used to some more changes in the way we live our lives over the next six months or so,” he said.

“There will be further intrusions, there will be further restrictions on people’s movement and their behaviour.”

Similar from the US – Americans urged to hunker down more as coronavirus chaos spreads to airports

“I think Americans should be prepared that they are going to have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Fauci said he did not see domestic travel restrictions in the immediate future but warned, as he did last week, that the outbreak would get worse before it gets better.

With limited testing available, officials have recorded nearly 3,000 cases and 59 deaths in the United States.

The U.S. containment measures have so far been mild compared to the nationwide lockdowns imposed in Italy, France and Spain. The virus has infected more than 156,000 people in 142 countries, resulting in over, 5,800 deaths.

Similar warnings from around the world – Virus restrictions tighten, disrupting daily life, worship

New travel restrictions and border closures reverberated Sunday across Europe and beyond as daily life increasingly ground to a halt to try to keep people apart and slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Public worship was curtailed as Muslim authorities announced that the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City would be closed indefinitely, and the Vatican said next month’s Holy Week services would not be open to the public.

 In the Philippines, soldiers and police sealed off the densely populated capital of Manila from most domestic travelers, snarling traffic to check commuters for fever.

Spain awoke to the first day of a nationwide quarantine.

Nearby Morocco suspended all international flights. Turkey, meanwhile, set aside quarantine beds for more than 10,000 people returning from pilgrimages to Islam’s holy sites in Saudi Arabia.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced plans to limit movement nationwide shortly after Tyrol province followed Italy and Spain in barring people from leaving their homes except for essential errands or work.

So concerns and effects and drastic actions are escalating around the world.

“Flatten the curve” is now a common refrain. This means deliberately extending the effects of Covid-19, which means over months at least.

It is mostly likely to get worse here in New Zealand, restrictions are likely to increase, and this is going to be over months at least.

Life here and around the world is changing drastically in the short and medium term. It will affect all of us significantly (obviously to varying degrees), we just don’t know by how much and for how long.

Medical treatment breakthroughs and vaccines will help if the become available, but don’t expect a sudden miracle end to this.

There is already major disruption to sport and cultural events. Anzac Day gatherings are in serious doubt as that involves people in the highest risk age group. Holidays have been halted and plans for months are in serious doubt – I have planned and booked a trip to Australia in a few months, that looks like being a no go.

Schools, polytechnics and universities are already contingency planning for shutting down. If schools shut that will have a major impact on parents and their employment.

Here in New Zealand we are heading towards winter, often referred to as ‘flu season’. We should be prepared for being restricted to home if we get any signs of a cold or flu, whether we have Covid-19 or not – the rule is likely to be self-isolation first, find out what it is later.

This means that many of us are likely to be confined to home for at least 14 days over the coming months.

This is a all very big deal over and it will be over a significant period of time. the words of the year look likely to be virus and lockdown.


Ministry of Health: