Why the Pandemic is worse than you think it is & why we need to start preparing for that reality 

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It’s funny how those on NZ Twitter screaming criticism of the virus was racist in February…

…are now the ones virtue signalling strong in isolation memes and constant hand washing PSAs.

Better late than never I suppose.

I appreciate I’ve been a bit of an outlier on this pandemic and from the beginning was warning this had all the ingredients of a public health crisis and economic meltdown.

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I argued that the manner in which the Chinese were reacting with such heavy handed tactics suggested something far worse than their official announcements.

I argued that once started this would continue for 18months until a vaccine can be found and I argued we should be preparing for a once in a  generation unique event.

Well, now we are here, what happens next?

It gets worse, lots worse.

Our only hope is to keep the bloody thing out of NZ for as long as we can and use that time to prepare.

  • Immediate rationing protocols in all aspects of the market from petrol to food. Maximum purchase amounts need to be urgently put into place now because all that is stopping full blown panic buying is the belief that by 6am tomorrow the shelves are replenished, when that stops happening people will lose their shit, we must ensure that doesn’t happen by implementing 2 per customer styled rationing.
  • The military needs to be mobilised and prepared to step in and ensure essential services can operate. And no Matt Nippert, that isn’t martial law.
  • We should be considering releasing nonviolent prisoners out early because if the virus gets into our prison system they will not be able to save peoples lives in there.
  • Food banks should be delivering to people, not having the people come to the food banks and warm clothing for winter should be distributed with those food parcels.
  • Be prepared to quarantine suburbs and cities  if the outbreak spreads.
  • The economic damage will be enormous and has every possibility of triggering a depression which will require far more than the $12billion being used.

Once the virus gets into NZ, we will be living under completely different conditions than we have ever lived under in our collective memory.

Even if you get an all clear, the damned thing can pop back up again via external re-infection. The only way normalcy can be restored is with a vaccine and that’s 18 months away.

38 000 deaths are what a pandemic could create, those are numbers that would swamp our ability to process the bodies and mass graves would need to be considered. It will create a level of fear and uncertainty we haven’t experienced before which is why clear honest advice needs to be transmitted by the Government and why they need to be thinking far larger than they currently are.

Let’s be clear, this will end ONCE we have a vaccine, but any belief that life as we have lived it will continue without disruption during those 18months is simply not the truth of what we are facing.

 

36 COMMENTS

  1. NZ Government is prepared/ing for 38,000 deaths over 8 weeks & 10,000 of those deaths happening within 7 days during the pandemic.

    Thats right!

    Ministry of Health (MOH) has planned for in its New Zealand Influenza Pandemic Plan which sets outs the all-of-government strategy and framework for action. Based on the 1918 influenza epidemic when the Maori were nearly wiped out.

    Yep!

    Page 18. 4th para. left hand side. ms or pdf.
    link:
    https://www.health.govt.nz/publication/new-zealand-influenza-pandemic-plan-framework-action?fbclid=IwAR0pEW3ZsbEj98e_WTuq8lRzOubw-aST2ZcntgT-tXPJ-oKbKZIbM9c4h7o

  2. It will begin to end when the vaccine is here but strategic use of a vaccine will mean it’s not a snap your fingers and fix it like the movies-vaccines also have limitations, but yes I also worry about the prospect of economic depression by the mass shutdowns in the meantime.

    Border security and self isolation seem a bad joke though to be honest. Who doesn’t know someone with a story yet..
    Other than being sensible and trying to keep the bills paid we are just along for the ride.
    Martyn you are always welcome to pitch a tent at ours if you want to leave the city, there will be wine until it runs out, beef and venison in the freezer, probably a stray vegetable or two and plenty of riveting conversation 🙂

  3. Life itself is an existential situation–but for many it lasts a fair time–so we put that dark end off for a bit, or concoct various means of not thinking about it too much. We know it will end, but hopefully not today, so hedonism, drudgery, extreme sports or maybe doing something altruistic and useful fills in till then.

    But immediate threat is sharper. And, a reminder of how counterproductive the move to a low wage service oriented society of life coaches and dog walkers, and ‘just in time’ low wage offshore located supply chains has been.

    I was luke warm on Martyn Bradbury’s Fortress NZ but at the back of my mind knew it had some merit. As an NZ car industry worker, where the just in time and global production models were adopted ahead of many others, I always thought it was a “bridge burning” type of move. As we are discovering now. We urgently need to manufacture masks, medical ventilators and other stuff here right now. Do not Fischer and Paykel run a hi-tech medical supply company?–get it cranking for the virus requirements by order of Govt. In various wars production converts to armament manufacture why not now? No more ‘food miles’, grow and buy local etc.

    It is going to be horrendous, and no compensation for many, but maybe the positive will be in a couple of years that along with thousands of people, we may have buried neo liberalism and corporate and finance capital’s hegemony over humanity.

  4. There are a number of academic articles about this out now which are well worth reading, since these will likely end up steering public policy (for better or worse):
    https://www.imperial.ac.uk/media/imperial-college/medicine/sph/ide/gida-fellowships/Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf?referringSource=articleShare
    https://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2020/03/13/science.abb3221?rss=1
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-0820-9?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_content=organic&utm_campaign=NGMT_USG_JC01_GL_NRJournals

    Based on all that, imo, the best course of action is actually to have the elderly (>65) self-isolate as much a possible and simply allow the virus to run it’s course (given that will happen anyway) given that the death rate is extremely low for younger age groups (see first linked article). Further, given that ~80% of Corona infected are asymptomatic, i.e. they didn’t even know they had it, (see second linked article) the 2-3% fatality rate is really 2-3% of the 20% that actually get symptoms – i.e. the true death rate is approximately 0.4-0.6%. That is obviously far easier to manage than current worst case scenarios.
    What we need ASAP is the wide availability of reliable a antibody Corona test system (as opposed to the current test that only exposes live virus carriers), to ascertain those who have already had the virus and thus do not need to be quarantined and are safe to interact with others. This would allow at least safe partial opening of borders etc.
    These mass tests are already giving results in Italy:
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/18/scientists-say-mass-tests-in-italian-town-have-halted-covid-19

    • I may not agree with letting the virus run its course, for purely humanitarian reasons, but I agree, the horse has bolted, it is in places like Africa and all over Asia where health systems will be unable to cope, and it will be a disease that will be there and never vanish again.

      So we can protect by isolating, and that means also, shutting the land off for immigrants and so, expecting them to meet the most stringent requirements, few will love to put up with.

      NZers should appreciate the benefit of living in a remote place on islands.

      But if the virus and disease get established here, the only way to deal with it is to take necessary isolation measures and so forth, until a vaccine is available. Sorry for the elderly and those with preconditions.

  5. My wife returned from China yesterday (and yes, she is self-isolating, really!) and she has given me a fascinating story of life with Covid 19.
    Cities twice the size of Auckland were in lockdown. No traffic, streets almost deserted, markets, shops, restaurants, schools all closed. Couldn’t have any wedding or funeral services. Fresh meat, vegetables and fruit difficult to get (you often had to travel a long way to find an open store). Buses with hastily erected plastic bubbles for the drivers. Everyone wearing a mask and usually also gloves. Many banks and government offices closed. Suspected cases were locked in their homes, sometimes with barricades and guards to make sure they did not leave until permitted (to buy food).
    But she also said that things are starting to get back to normal now in the belief that the worst is over. She thinks that NZ is nowhere near prepared enough for what is likely to happen.
    I hope she is wrong, only time will tell.
    One thing I am sure of – if it hits hard here our health system will quickly disintegrate because it is so underfunded and badly managed that it can’t even cope with so-called “normal” conditions, let alone when a pandemic like Covid 19 hits.

  6. Another 8 cases just announced by MoH today at 1pm all from returning travelers. I don’t think people truly understand that this is life for the next 12 to 18 months people have not got their heads around this. MoH won’t even confirm whether lockdown is an option they are considering they are not telling us the whole truth of this so we need to watch what they say and don’t say. I’m not afraid to say I’m scared if what I think is about to come to pass it is going to be a real rude awakening for some though.

  7. The military needs to be mobilised and prepared to step in and ensure essential services can operate.

    Might be a good time to bring any O/S forces home?

    In particular, those in Iraq, where their govt specifically requested that all foreign military please leave. (And now the US is bombing them again.)

  8. I’ve (you know ….. I I I me me me me me) criticise our public service regularly – well the senior ranks and the careerist, generic managerialists that are now in vogue (often parachuted in from the Empire), and who have been for the past three decades.
    But let’s hope we now also have the capability, given their neo-liberal ideology where collectivism=bad and individualism = good (along with greed and ego, and consumption and panick buying and all the complete shit that goes with it) to get through this.
    As I traverse the increasingly gentrifying neighbourhood, I’m noticing how the ones screaming the loudest are attitudinally given to a measure of self-entitlement (They seem to be, for example, the ones moaning about dirty filthy benes infecting the neighbourhood – they’re usually thoroughly gorgeous, but so full of plastic you could start a recycling bizzness).

  9. The military needs to be mobilised and prepared to step in and ensure essential services can operate.

    They were called in to help with water delivery to parts of Northland recently. Yes, now they need to be ready to help with delivery of eg medical and even food supplies, in the near future. I’m guessing they’ve been given a heads-up, and are preparing…

  10. We should be considering releasing nonviolent prisoners out early because if the virus gets into our prison system they will not be able to save peoples lives in there.

    Absolutely! Non-violent prisoners returning home will help families to get through the time ahead, also. The time for this is definitely now. Now. Now! ….Before the damned virus strikes.

  11. Food banks should be delivering to people

    It would certainly be helpful if they ramped up ways of delivering essentials to people, rather than the eruptions of chaos that we’ve seen. It should be possible to have the bulk of all ordering and purchasing done over the ‘Net, shouldn’t it? Or, could it all be made click-and-collect? Then have special services for those who lack internet access..

    We live in the Internet era. So, all this should be possible, surely.

  12. Just hit with the 2 items per person rationing at Countdown – I have 6 kids so there are 8 in our family and being allowed to buy the same amount of pasta as a little old lady living on her own in a pain in the ass.

    • James Brown – This happened London 1974/5 during the petrol crisis, toilet paper was rationed one roll per customer, which was quite hard going for a family. Consequently, it’s an item I’ve already stored in my prep for any climate change apocalypse. Plus soap. My local supermarket is currently devoid of disinfectant and I have just bought a costly ‘hospital strength’ one.

      The supermarkets say that they’re struggling to do home deliveries; the food banks may simply not have the people available to do home deliveries of food/warm clothes; many are volunteers, and in the at-risk age group; utilising both prisoners and the military is a no-brainer for keeping both essential services and social services functioning. The UK is doing this.

      Mike the Lefty rightly comments on our already underfunded and badly managed public health system; I regard Bill English as largely responsible for a lot of this, and was astonished yesterday when it was suggested that he, of all people, be called in to advise govt in handling this crisis. Already many NZ’ers suffer with hospitals challenged to cope with routine health issues, and private insurance schemes – or crowd funding – may be of no use whatsoever in some of the scenarios which could unfold, or are unfolding right now.

      • +1 Snowwhite,

        “I regard Bill English as largely responsible for a lot of this, and was astonished yesterday when it was suggested that he, of all people, be called in to advise govt in handling this crisis. “

  13. “Health Minister David Clark has announced that the Government will enforce a mass gatherings limit of 100 people for indoor events…..These measures, however, don’t apply to schools, universities or other educational institutes.

    So what’s the fucking point then?

    “There is still no evidence of community transmission in New Zealand,” Clark said.
    So we wait until there is??????????? Surely we need to take the appropriate actions now before we get to that fucking stage.

    This Clark is a fucking idiot.

    • Hear hear, cometh the hour cometh the man, the exception would seemingly be for that clown……

    • limit of 100 people for indoor events

      100 people still sounds like a heck of a lot, like a good sized crowd.
      I thought they’d bring it down to about ten.

  14. About the food distribution chaos, – the relevant minister is Damien O’Connor.
    It is his job to sort this out. I would like to know what steps he is taking, how much time he is putting in to this. (Please, don’t let him be asleep at the wheel – Not now. This is becoming a crisis situation.)
    Damien O’Connor

    • Why don’t the milk companies sell directly on line to the consumers in China, (or is that against our laughable free trade deals heavily slanted to Chinese interests and bringing about the Fonterra/Sanlu deaths). It’s a joke and a nightmare for other’s needing the formula to find shelves empty and the supermarkets are helping the scam because they can’t be bothered employing staff to enforce it.

  15. Now we’re into grim comments, I’ll add a couple. Read on Twitter a doctor in Lombardy describing how he’s coping, absolutely overwhelmed with the number of patients, shortages of equipment and nursing staff who have succumbed to the virus. So they have to choose who to treat and who to let die. Desparate need to prevent that happening here; we should protect for ourselves, for others and especially for the medical profession on the front line.

    Mike Leigh writing on the US in his usual brilliant way, comments that the virus might mutate spreading through the US and the relative immunity for the young might change dramatically.

    Newest measures announced on Thursday will improve safety here, but when are our overlords going to close down schools and really manage the crisis?

    • Janio – “So they have to choose who to treat and who to let die. Desperate need to prevent that happening here; we should protect for ourselves, for others and especially for the medical profession on the front line.”

      A totally excellent point, Janio, that we protect ourselves for the sake of essential front-line others.

      These are the nurses, doctors, police officers, welfare, checkout and transport operators- assuming that the latter services continue to function. As an older person, I accept it may not be feasible or realistic to protect/save me, and I am no great loss. The others are. Ironically they are the most exposed to the virus, and they are immeasurably vital to the community’s well-being, and any possibility of any of them ending up as human sacrifices is so totally morally repugnant, that it is incumbent upon all of us to take what measures we’re advised to.

      SaveNZ refers to empty supermarket shelves. I bought the only tin of baked beans in NWS today. Rationing
      is necessary, but it is another challenge. Most of my two local supermarkets’ staffed are young people and students who could have trouble enforcing restrictions against stroppy well-heeled customers; supermarket owners are, I think, the single richest group in NZ; mine isn’t visible, I wouldn’t know what he looks like; I’m told he’s a very nice Indian man.

      Pretty sure the more mature staff were systematically squeezed out – we witnessed them being given demeaning tasks, but I don’t know if that was the current owner/manager or his predecessor. But a local Four Square operator was loading a trolley up at NWS yesterday.

      (Be demeaning, I mean eg a woman in her 60’s atop a ladder, cleaning lampshades, right by/above the checkout queue, during working hours – at least two health and safety violations. Did talk with her about it.)

  16. Hoarding and panic bulk buying at supermarkets hits beneficaries and the low waged the worst .Why ?

    Most beneficaries live week to week and simply don’t have wads of spare cash to stock up on essential food items even if they wanted too , making them even more vulnerable to greedy affluent individualists who clean the shelves out .Because they have so little food in reserve, if the shops run out they are in real trouble to put food on the table.

    If ever there was a time for rational collective cooperation instead of self centered individualism this is it .
    Rationing either through govt regulation or specific super market chains is the only logical solution to avoid panic buying and give everybody a fair go .There will be plenty to go round .

    Next time you feel the urge to fill your trolley with 10,000 kms of bum wipe , just remember its a really ,really shitty thing to do .

  17. Yeah as bad as the people are overbuying, the supermarkets are worse rubbing their
    hands & letting it happen for days.

    • Notice the supermarkets seem to have put the price up today.

      Sadly I did not panic buy earlier, and now no toilet paper, paper towels, rice, pasta, baked beans, flour left on all the different supermarket I went to….

      I feel for anybody on a low income. Not only is there hardly anything left to buy that are staples, it all seems to be the expensive stuff left and you have to supermarket hop to get a range of ingredients.

      The supermarkets need to restock and let the elderly (over 65’s) go first to buy stuff, then beneficiaries and working poor …. then open it up for everyone else after they get first dibs.

      Also the commerce commission should keep an eye on the supermarkets putting up prices they are already making a fortune and now looking to be greedier.

      • Good ideas Save NZ (great name in the current crisis). The idea of pacing shopping times so different groups can get their share. Anything to curtail the selfish is good news.
        I can’t comment on what’s on supermarket shelves becos my family won’t let me shop – no popping out for a quick grab. They point out it won’t be quick, I’m old and slow, I’ve got MS. If I get sick, I’ll infect them. That’s the incentive for staying put.
        Our neighbours are offering support, they’re very kind. I hope other oldies are getting the same help.
        As for the prices going up, take Kheala’s advice and complain to Damien O’Connor

        • Also those working in the supermarkets, retail, places that are customer facing and still open, should be supplied with masks for their employees… (although are there any left????)

          • Yes, absolutely. Supermarket workers will need face masks and gloves.

            Again, I wonder if Damien O’Connor is doing his bit in all this, pulling his weight as a minister. Every one of them has been entrusted with out care. Yet many seem to be content with letting Jacinda carry the load.

            • Kheala – UK is bringing in price controls. We can too. I’ve not noticed any price increases in my local NWS or Countdown.

              A local woman – with a large family – said that she spent Friday looking unsuccessfully for flour.

              NWS has zero bread except for a stack of unsold super soft white bread which makes lovely sandwiches but which I’d stopped buying as it bloats my belly and pains my sigmoid colon ! Looks like others boycott it too, but mums doing a Saturday shop were/are out of luck – and that’s where stockpiling is mean.

              If, as is reported, people are doing $1000 shopping sprees,
              then rationing is necessary until the shops are able to resume normal stocking – reassuring newspaper advertisements are of no use to the poor and hungry.

  18. I am laughing at the idea that a vaccine will solve all problems in about 18 months. Ist point, who wants to trust a vaccine that hasn’t been fully tested over several years to make sure that the fix isn’t worse than the problem (thalidomide springs to mind). 2nd point, this is a coronavirus, so is sars and the common cold. We still don’t have a sars vaccine because those developed were worse than the illness and still nothing for the common cold. I think this is pretty complex with no easy fixes.
    The touching belief in a vaccine is religious in nature rather than factual. How about we look at what is doable now to mitigate this thing rather than believe in fairy dust.

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