Dr Liz Gordon: A garden of Eden in a poisoned, mangled world

Soldiers from the militarys chemical units take part in a drill organised by the New Taipei City government to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Xindian district on March 14, 2020. - Over 450 medical staff, community volunteers, government employees and military personnel took part in the drill. Despite being so close to the original outbreak in mainland China, Taiwan has just 48 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 disease with one death. (Photo by Sam Yeh / AFP) (Photo by SAM YEH/AFP via Getty Images)

The gift of being able to live in a Covid-free community cannot be underestimated. It is an exceptional blessing.  As someone in that age group who could be at risk of a bad outcome if I caught the Covid, it is an inestimable delight to be able to venture out into the community pretty well knowing that I will not catch that virus.

That gift is a rare one today, as the unmistakable signs emerge of a large second wave of the virus in Europe, Russia and the Americas. And the huge tsunami that just rolls on and on in India. Etc.

Yesterday, there were nearly 444,000 new cases reported worldwide, a one-day record. More than five million people are currently known to have the virus, and the number may be double that.

As we have been reminded this week, some of those infected people are fortunate enough to make their way to these shores for one reason or another. Some of them arrive infected and infect other people along the way.  The odds of a repeat of the Russian crew infection is increasing every day.  The odds of the virus getting out into the community also increases by the same or a lesser amount. Siouxsie Wiles’ “Emmental cheese” model is a convincing explanation of how layers of protection can prevent community transmission. It also makes it clear that it is our own behaviour that matters.

Before the election, a view was doing the rounds that we were being unbearably nannied through the frequent reminders to wash your hands/keep social distance / wear a mask / sign in and so on. Some think it is unacceptable to make these demands on a Covid free environment.

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We have done so well in all but eliminating (for the time being) the Covid in our community that we are in danger of forgetting that there is a risk at all.  But this is definitely a false security.  The risk is building day by day, case by case, and it is only our border precautions that prevents us being positively bombarded by little coronavirus nodules.

We are in the middle of a full-blown pandemic of a sneaky little virus that can also be deadly and affect long term health, whether it feels like it or not.

In short, the price of our current liberty is eternal vigilance. The continual reminders for us to take every care are not annoying nannying, but prudent advice amidst the certainty that the tricky virus will arrive back into our community again.  As indeed it has this week. How far it spreads will be up to us.

New Zealand is being looked upon with envy by other countries where a twin breakdown of political will and ability to control the virus is the new normal.  We should celebrate, in a careful, socially distanced way, our current status, but not flout it or forget that we are not safe. 

Become like the Emmental cheese, adding slices of your own protection to plug the holes. We have proved twice now that we can be Covid free in the community. But the fight is not over with these two victories. It is barely starting.


Dr Liz Gordon is a researcher and a barrister, with interests in destroying neo-liberalism in all its forms and moving towards a socially just society.  She usually blogs on justice, social welfare and education topics.


  1. We probably need to be ready for a resurgence somewhere up ahead. So, we can always keep an emergency supply of food, basic supplies, any medicines and other essentials ready in advance. Keep improving our general health/ fitness/ wellbeing as one of the layers of protection, and have any important repairs done sooner rather than later. We just don’t know what the future holds.

    • 1. outsourcing crew (it is a cost saving on labour)
      2. boats are out at sea for 3/4 months and evidently kiwis don’t put their hand up for the stretch

      • Bonded immigrant labour get a pittance after the employer master deducts a range of “expenses”
        Winston and Shane did well for their own pockets but not for the Kiwi worker..
        Fish stocks and the marine environment are suffering.
        Cameras on boats anyone?

  2. Between 3rd February 2018 and 10th April 2020 (months after the disease was supposedly unleashed into the community by Wuhan clan) New Zealanders were equally as likely to die from being murdered by a doctor in this country as dying with Sars-Covid (one case each). In the same period, around 65,000 people died in this country from causes not related to Sars-Covid. With the 24 deaths in this country from/with Sars-Covid since 10th April 2020, this still means there are 1500 times as many New Zealanders dying annually from causes not Covid related.

    • The stats tell a story, don’t they … what are your really wanting to say Ethan Woke?

      Seen what is happening in other parts of the world? In Germany I hear from a German immigrant here that younger folk there are over the virus. And the result?

    • Wonder if the names if any of those 1000s who have died will be read out at a 1pm and condolences sent to the whanau?

  3. I resent having to wear a mask, social distance and use bloody hand sanitizer because exploitative private business demands we bring in cheap migrant labour, international students and tourists who are then in turn exploited.
    Lets continue to go cold turkey on the crack cocaine of fishing, horticulture, education and tourism and keep the borders closed to all but residents and citizens for good.

    • I have no bother in wearing a mask, social distancing and using sanitiser when required.
      The benefits of being in a country that cracks down on covod19 is appreciated whole heatedly.
      But keep the borders shut.
      We do not need overseas workers, students, tourists and much of the crap imported.
      We do need to adjust how we train youngsters for useful jobs after they have had as much education as can be made available.

      The NZ environment suffers with human occupation, We just don’t need more humans.

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