Against Self-Isolation For International Returnees

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The thing about this self-isolation trial – and, for that matter, broader-scale self-isolation rather than MIQ facilities all up – is that people are GOING to do daft things.

I don’t care if you put home detention style ankle-bracelets on them. You’ll get people leaning over the fence to talk to their neighbours, people having visitors at home (who aren’t ankle-braceleted), people attempting to block the anklet using tinfoil, people working out ways to get it off their ankle or ‘spoof’ the system so that it looks like they’re still where they’re meant to be, even as they’re off down the shops, and of course – people who decide that whatever reason it is they’ve got for leaving their self-isolation locale is so important that it doesn’t matter they’re still tagged in the first place.

Over the past few months, we’ve witnessed all manner of curious behavior inside proper and military-run managed isolation facilities. We’ve had a security guard arranging an illicit liason with an MIQ guest (and apparently quite a few of these in Australia as the er .. root of some of their outbreaks over there); we’ve had a guy (who later turned out to have Covid-19) escape through a fence to go buy toothpaste at a supermarket; we’ve had people desperate to attend a loved one’s funeral breaking out of MIQ facilities en-masse; we’ve even had one intrepid Australian-deportee manufacturing an escape-rope using the bedsheets from his hotel suite and climbing down the side of the building to go for a walk all the way from the central city to Onehunga and then back via Mt Albert.

And these have ALL been things that have taken place from Government-sanctioned, security-guarded and even military patrolled MIQ facilities. That is to say, with multiple ‘barriers’ and protections up exactly to discourage this kind of behavior.

The proposal to move towards self-isolation is, quite simply, that by REMOVING all of these safeguards … we won’t become significantly less safe.

Which presupposes that people won’t start acting stupidly more frequently. Or, rather, that the various safeguards currently around them when they fairly inevitably DO try and do something the rest of us would consider to be daft – are just as effective when they’re NOT there as when they actually are.

A moment’s consideration reveals the effective flaw with that scheme.

Now to be fair and sure, in a certain proportion of MIQ-jumping cases – the people at the center of them aren’t acting rationally, because they’re in circumstances wherein very few of us ARE up to acting rationally.

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The two women mid-way through last year who were granted an exemption to leave MIQ early (and who later turned out to have the virus) – they did so because their mother was about to die (and, in fact, sadly died the same day that their exemption was granted). I think any of us in such a scenario would be rather more desperate to go and see our moribund mother on her deathbed in person – and much less interested in whether our actions might unwittingly transmit the virus out into the rest of the country.

The solution to that, was a simple one. Namely – not have the decision-making power as to whether to go out into our community vested in the people who were so emotionally bound up with the situation.

The risk with a move to self-isolation, even where it’s ring-fenced with additional safety precautions like ankle-monitoring or only being available to travelers from “low” or “medium risk” countries, is that it places the onus of decision-making on the individual.

And as we saw with, for instance, that Australian veterinary nurse earlier this year who basically attempted to turn her time in an NZ MIQ facility into a Covid-“truther” stunt … well, there is no surefire guarantee that an individual is going to behave reasonably simply because they’re from what was, ostensibly, a ‘lower-risk’ state.

Indeed, given what we’ve earlier seen – it almost seems the opposite. People from ‘lower risk’ places may correspondingly presume that they themselves are lower risk or even ‘no risk’ of having, let alone transmitting the virus. People who’ve been vaccinated – never mind what the science shows about their still being Delta transmissible – may act as if they, and our community, are impervious to both the virus and therefore to a quick walk down to the shops.

I’m sure that there are other details to the Government’s transition to self-isolation plan; and that it’s not simply doing what we did fifteen months ago, and pretending that police overloaded with bail-checks can also find the time to go around door-knocking addresses people are supposed to be staying at.

But as it stands, I’m not in favour of self-isolation – on a trial basis, or otherwise.

It seems all too much like the travel-bubble with Australia. Something that many if not most New Zealanders didn’t want – yet which was foisted upon us following a months-long campaign of Media and Opposition pressure upon the Government to roll it out anyway in the vague notion that it’d be “necessary” for the economy and/or certain people’s travel-plans on holiday (looking at you, Mike Hosking – who earlier seemed to suggest it was somehow Jacinda’s fault that his planned extended vacation in New South Wales couldn’t go ahead recently).

And then when it all tumbles down and somewhere winds up under a Level 4 Lockdown again, it’ll all be thrown back as JACINDA’S FAULT, and everybody’ll be very very quiet about any previous advocacy they may have done for exactly the thing that’s gone wrong in the first place prior to its occurrence.

Much easier, I think, just to not bother.

We are comfortable behind our Walls here in New Zealand. With the Covid-19 situation changing almost by the day out there in the virus-ravaged hinterlands of civilization (by which I mean America and the UK, inter various alia), it is far too soon to speak convincingly about how we might open up in such a manner – and with such confidence that there is viability to self-isolation as part and parcel of same.

37 COMMENTS

  1. Curren
    The problem here is the same as with all the ‘grand plans’ by Jacinda and her govt. Everyone of them without fail: They are already marketing the next popular ‘sexy sounding’ idea before finishing the current tough job. It’s all half baked, every project they touch.
    Helloooo…Jacinda…your focus needs to be on getting 100% of NZ vaccinated QUICKLY – and nothing else! Finish that job fast!!! Your current measures are just too slow, too soft, too voluntary, too,’I beg you to get jabbed please’. Lay down the law Jacinda!
    We need tougher ‘incentives’ like France for example. Once that is achieved, let’s talk about ‘ self isolation’ which (I agree with you Curwen ) will be the weak link and get us into big shit quickly.

      • Peter
        Just to expand my firm YES answer. By making it legally mandatory you’ would get close to desired 100% level quickly. Yes, there will be anti-vax outcries and you’ll have attrition and refusal and shit fights, but at least you end up with say 90 – 95% of the population vaxxed quickly. Martyn keeps calling it ‘the plague’. He’s right! And if it was the black plague, boy, there would be no question people would be running to get that vax!!! As it stands now, the vaccinated folks will carry the selfish un-vaxxed when the shit hits the fan. In the USA (heard a radio report) they have un-vaxxed people on their death bed with Covid, suddenly begging to be vaccinated – too late the doctors say! The approach taken by this ‘dreamland govt’ is just too much ‘touchy feely, let’s-not-upset-anyone’ pissing around – instead to dealing to the problem with a sledgehammer. Jacinda’s and Chippie’s big dream is to have “EVERYONE WHO WANTS TO be vaccinated” done by the end of the year. Really??? The big dream should be: EVERYONE IS VACCINATED – FULL STOP!

        • I agree, unless we have some level of mandated vaccination it just won’t happen – the Ports of Tauranga workers have proved that.

        • I’m in agreement with compulsory vaccinations.The precedent for mass medication is already set with the introduction of fluoride in our water supplies. The sad reality is that there is a cohort of New Zealanders who cannot be trusted to do the right thing by the team of 5 million because of perceived attacks on their personal
          “freedom “

    • @TheKraut, Great comment, especially

      They are already marketing the next popular ‘sexy sounding’ idea before finishing the current tough job. It’s all half baked, every project they touch.
      Helloooo…Jacinda…your focus needs to be on getting 100% of NZ vaccinated QUICKLY – and nothing else! Finish that job fast!!!

      Vaccinations need to be mandatory for any employee coming into contact with overseas people/items, aka all NZ ports staff, hotel staff, bus staff etc. No jab, no job. BUT, also keep in mind you can be vaccinated while still carrying Covid and pass on to others, so there still needs to be much better measures for this contact by NZ employers to stop community spread.

      NZ should be bumping up the Oxygen and hospital beds because once Covid hits, it is a nightmare. Was taking to a person whose parents are still in India where Covid is raging. There was no oxygen left in the hospitals, prices went through the roof and people were looting and stealing from the hospitals to try and save their parents. Once it hits, you can’t save everybody no matter how much money or resources you have.

      Another issue with self isolation is there will be a flood gate of high needs people arriving who will need a lot of care without even having Covid so our hospitals will go from 30,000 waiting list to 60,000 waiting list just like the exponential growth of our emergency housing needs with the amount of visitors and students and marriages and exploiter jobs and meth precursor drop offs.

      NZ already has people dying from preventable illnesses, is poorly prepared, such as regular stories of poor care in across maternity/aged care/regular care, poorly qualified staff (NZ neoliberal preference of poorer qualified staff ‘aids’ and staff tangential to hospital care who are supposed to ‘make money’ and ‘run’ things) and lack of functioning machinery and provisions, mean NZ is not ready for any outbreak or even our increased population. Statistics show that NZ has reduced the spend per person on health care living in NZ, not increase it with inflation.

      Thus we have DHB’s closing down due to poor management on cybersecurity and live in a country where decades of Rogernomic activity to cut costs everywhere, has led to widespread dysfunction, where necessary actions and measures, value add, and any normal activity, have been delayed to create a short term rosier bottom line and marketing message while ‘financial’ people expand their empires around the public health/other public sectors.

      We don’t even know how many are vaccinated in NZ properly or enough resources to stop people are dying of RSV.

      NZ gets by on a wing and a prayer and the half baked ‘sexy’ ideas need to stop, and if the government wants re-election they need to concentrate on risk control and basics like providing a decent service to existing people living in NZ with housing and healthcare.

      That is completely achievable but not the fake ‘sexy’ virtue signalling like red carpets and MP hours on another 501 or Terror mom with a few months in NZ under their belt being taken under our failing and flailing system wing.

  2. Well said Curwen.
    One can’t help thinking that Labour’s advisers are the Business Roundtable crew.
    Labour are on an accelerating trajectory to defeat at the next election because of their apparent lack of any common sense.

  3. Firstly a significant amount of people coming to NZ have Covid.

    It is clear that our health system is already overloaded with a 30,000 waiting list.

    Put 2 + 2 together.

    Once these people come to NZ with Covid it becomes NZ taxpayers responsibility to provide for their care in NZ which is why NZ is so popular!!!

    We also have a massive housing shortage so having more people come to NZ is making it worse, while raising the prices of property and interest rates for the existing residents, many who will not be able to cope with another lock down.

    Having self isolation is prioriting another chef/labourer/student and their family members to come to NZ, more NZ mansions bought for Covid refugees and their employers/families, easier holidays for the rich and middle class to frolic post Covid and easier for Meth and exploiters to easily target NZ.

    What is the government to do?

    • They’ve had over a year to get their shit together and plan for this – what the fuck have they been doing since March 2020???

      We can’t live behind a wall forever. The vaccine is free, easy to get and largely effective.

      Draw a line in the sand and if people choose not to get it done then that’s on them. Unless we do that there’s no end to this.

  4. Lol. Something drastic changed between the doctored covid roadmap report and the Blairite’s dribble from the podium of truth. The Amazon decision and some poll trends would have come as a shock to the Beehive smug that have been acting like a human centipede in regards to the sheeple getting restless in their housing inflation stupor.

    The slow moving train crash of this government is getting loser to the end of the line.

  5. Who knew there was something called ‘machinery’ to harvest in Dino NZ.

    NZ wants to go back to the peasant days with slave labour during Covid with self isolation, but there is something called ‘technology’ that other countries and industry uses for agriculture. Many examples you can just google in 2 seconds. https://galaxygroup.co.nz/tecnofruit-harvesters/

    Since easily available technology is never mentioned in NZ by so many committees and reports, media and government, that just believe in slave labour, it is yet another reason NZ productivity is so low here.

  6. Can’t help but agree with the author, particularly as the self-isolation trial will begin in October, a time where we will still likely have 50% of the population yet to receive a dose of the vaccine.

    But, it is hard not to see the announcement as a gesture to those who want to look past the vaccine rollout. It all seems to hinge on which countries will qualify as “low risk”. Delta, potential new variants and the possibility that cases will rise in the Northern Hemisphere as countries approach winter, could mean that destinations eligible for home isolation are very few. Add in that people will need to isolate alone, it could be restricted to people living alone or can access a temporary living arrangement to qualify.

  7. Strap yourselves in folks:
    http://www.japansubculture.com/japan-reported-the-first-finding-of-the-highly-infectious-lambda-variant-here-three-days-before-the-olympics-began/
    “Last month, a team of researchers at Tokyo University published an academic paper which noted that the Lambda variant was highly infectious and resistant to vaccines.”
    Full article here: https://www.donga.com/jp/article/all/20210804/2833894/1 (Google should translate the text for you). The worst case scenario of “the vaccines don’t work” might already be on our doorstep. New Zealand should imo not reopen it’s borders while there is still a chance an effective generic long-lasting vaccine is developed.

  8. Agree 100% Curwen.
    Labour has caved to the business lobby and have an eye on the polls.
    Delta is difficult to manage but Lambda is taking hold in Latin America with devastating consequences and would cripple our health system.
    Worrying times ahead.

  9. Well said Curwen. We all need to show that we support the Government’s very cautious approach otherwise the pressure from lobby groups will overrun common sense.

  10. There is a HUGE difference between anti-vax’ers and people not keen on this rushed, untested and human guinea pig trail vaccine.
    I agree with the principle of vaccination, I’ve probably had every reasonable one (at some time or others as I used to travel a LOT to ‘exotic’ locations on holiday and work). But given the political nature of this vaccine roll-out, n.b. Hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin work, have almost zero side effects (less than an aspirin/paracetamol) but they were out of patent thus big-pharma would NOT make a LOT of money.
    Any conversation about these drugs are shouted down, without any REAL research into them.
    Also Zinc, vitamin C and sunlight/vit D, have a huge impact on not catching covid, but these are ignored so we can rush into an untested vaccine and be human guinea pigs all so big pharma can make out like bandits.
    Until everyone who’s desperate (mainly IMHO under the effects of propaganda) to be vaccinated has been, why all this propaganda and name calling?
    The six months trial results recently came out and surprise surprise the results were meaningless because certainly usual factors were either not mentioned or measured, thus making the results meaningless. Again why the ‘too stupid to be stupid’ result?
    n.b. these drugs have been rushed through under emergency and you are NOT allowed to sue the Govt or Big pharma if it turns out there is a problem. Has everyone forgot about the Thalidomide cover up? It was appalling and took nearly a decade for the guilty parties and Govt to admit to the known problem. So a LOT of people suffered unnecessarily during a near decade of a cover-up.
    These new drugs may well work, they probably have the two mentioned above + the Vit C & D and zinc in them, but it is rushed and free information is being withheld accidentally or purposely IMHO.
    So caveat emptor.

    • What is ivermectin?
      Ivermectin is a macrocyclic lactone medicine used to treat parasitic infections. Go for it buddy, that may mean one less parasite for the rest of us to contend with.

          • It seems you have accepted the discredited theories of a veterinarian whose academic publications essentially stop in 1995, except for one 2017 article about his natural killer cell vaccine idea published in a journal belonging to a publishing group, OMICS Group Inc, that has been called “predatory” and was sued by the Federal Trade Commission for deceptive practices.

            It is suggested you read a critique* by, Jonathan Jarry who is a biological scientist at McGill University that concludes with:
            Take-home message:
            – Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche is a veterinarian who recently released an open letter boldly claiming that the COVID-19 vaccines will be harmful to humanity by allowing the virus to mutate in dangerous ways.
            – If we are worried about dangerous variants emerging, it is much riskier to allow the virus to spread between unvaccinated people.
            – If coronavirus variants emerge for which the current vaccines offer little to no protection, the vaccines can be reformulated to be a better fit, much like the annual flu vaccine.
            – Dr. Bossche proposes the use of a new type of vaccine based on natural killer cells, which he claims he is working on but for which there is no published evidence.
            *https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/covid-19-critical-thinking-pseudoscience/doomsday-prophecy-dr-geert-vanden-bossche

            • The answer should be obvious. More to the point, how’s your reading going? Still part of the death cult or have you started to embrace reality?

    • What fucking disgraceful lies. Next you’ll be saying Bleach is the cure!
      Hydrochloroquine has been tested and found to be useless. Ivermectin makes intestinal parasites unlatch from intestines and be excreted – it has no antiviral effect. Stop spreading misinformation and outright lies. This is serious, we don’t all want to get Covid then long Covid, and fools like you spouting provable lies should stfu – you are not helping.

  11. Most people going into self-isolation will behave responsibly, as evidenced by MIQ.
    What concerns me is the self-entitled rich prick (looking at the Mike Hoskings type) who thinks the necessary rules of society do not apply to them.
    Their amorality is a threat to all of us!

    • No, you just need one idiot to breach quarantine. You would need a highly regulated and policed society like China say, to have a self isolation system that would be secure. Self isolation as an alternative to the quarantine system is just more 1%er bullshit.

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