With the public’s broad support, in the face of the Covid threat, the government closed down New Zealand, imposing a dictatorial control regime to an extent unprecedented in our history.
That said, every measure they took copied to the letter what was being done abroad, albeit to little criticism from a panic-ridden populace. I was a critic, claiming we were fortunate on a number of counts and need not have aped other nations to such an extent. I stand by that with one qualification.
What we knew about the virus victims at the halfway stage justified such criticism. However, with the passing of time a clearer picture has emerged. Without doubt the most at risk were nursing home patients who worldwide, went over like ninepins. So too in New Zealand, 19 of our 22 deaths came from nursing homes and with an average age of over 90.
These were people in the main who’s mind and memories had gone and were demented. Their existence was a horror story. Most folk over 50 are familiar with that awful scenario with a friend or relative and know the relief when news of their demise occurs.
But in sheer numbers we now know the biggest toll has been the obese which has accounted for 50% of deaths in Britain and America, mostly with their poor and conspicuously with black folk. New Zealand has an obesity issue with Islanders and Maoris in particular. Had we done nothing they’d have likely gone over in droves.
Throughout the past 6 months the world has been subjected to a huge variety of “expert” opinions. New Zealand has been no exception. Numerous hitherto unknown academics, specialising in plagues, epidemics, viruses and such-like have emerged.
When I commented on this to a senior government figure he replied darkly, “that’s precisely why we need university reform.” I agree, but that’s another issue.
World-wide there’s been massive variations of expert opinion disputing the proper approach and the critical trade-off with the economic consequences. Nobel prize winners and other experts have ranged from a virtually do nothing strategy to imposing a Dark Ages monastic lifestyle on everyone.
Talk of a vaccine has also ranged from an inevitably in time to none at all, again from different “experts.” What we now know as fact is the Covid virus doesn’t kill most people. Some have bad aftermaths but they’re rare. For most it’s simply a winter flu episode.
Of Britain’s circa 10 million children under 15 there’s been 2 deaths, or put another way, in the words of a British epidemic expert, less than the chance of being hit by lightning.
The evidence is now clear with second waves, spikes and what have you emerging everywhere, like other such viruses, it ain’t going away in a hurry.
Some countries have woken to that and opted to restore normal life, notably Italy, Germany, America, Portugal and others. The Prime Minister of Norway a week back, expressed her regret at her country’s hard-line, New Zealand like approach and wished she’d taken a more realistic view, to quote her, as per Sweden.
Australia has had a similar “good” virus war to New Zealand but has now, like us, opened up to everything other than the 14 days quarantine to outsiders. To much justified anger however, interstate Australian state borders idiotically remain closed.
14-day quarantines are unrealistic, doubly so when imposed on visitors both arriving and then again on their return home. Why can’t the world create a Covid passport? Holders could be tested a week before departure and noted in the passport, then tested again on departure. On arrival they should do and record tests at weekly intervals at widely available testing sites.
Other than that, they’d be free to travel between countries without the impractical 14 days quarantine, let alone its cost. When I mentioned this to my eldest son he said he thought Germany proposed something similar months ago but it hadn’t been pursued.
In the multitude of expert voices, many suggest the Covid virus may well be here to stay and will periodically break out, much like the annual flu.
Unless we’re about to resort to a Dark Ages monastic lifestyle it’s critical we open the borders without the quarantine lock-up. Adopt the passport proposition and we can restart our major export industry of tourism, likewise too, foreign students.
Australia is our main trading partner. Currently business people must lock down 14 days on arrival if say popping across to Sydney for a 3 day meeting, then another 14 days on return. In total that’s a month stuck in a hotel room to engage in a 3-day discussion. That’s ludicrous.
It’s overdue for a new approach. The economic damage world-wide is horrendous, so too the social cost of unemployment, depression and poverty. Copycatting other nations ain’t leadership, indeed to the contrary it’s the opposite.
Leadership would be initiating, say with Australia first, a virus passport and then extending it from there. The current situation is farcical and must stop.
A final comment. We don’t edit comments on this site. But henceforth please keep them to a reasonable length and additionally, cut out the gratuitous abuse of the Prime Minister. She’s followed “expert” advice in an unprecedented crisis. Criticising those strategies is fine; insulting her and other well-meaning politicians with unpleasant comments won’t be tolerated.