Too little, too slow

Yesterday’s announcement of the prospect of shorter stays in MIQ will give little comfort to those enduring the MIQueue misery.

The Government’s changes to the cruel MIQ system are a start but they need to go much further and much more quickly, says National’s Covid spokesperson Chris Bishop.

“As I revealed last week, fully vaccinated travellers to New Zealand, with a negative pre-departure test, pose negligible risk.

“Just two fully vaccinated travellers out of 20,000 or so people who have been through MIQ since August 23 have tested positive on day eight or later, indicating MIQ could be reduced immediately to seven days without any real risk.

“While fully vaccinated travellers with no Covid have been spending 14 days in MIQ, more than 200 people with Covid have been isolating at home in Auckland.

Even if only those travellers who could self-isolate in that city where the disease is already widespread in the community, were permitted to do so, it would relieve some of the MIQueue pressure.

“The tragedy is that these changes could and should have happened much sooner. The Government only started recording the vaccination status of people arriving into MIQ from August 23. Why didn’t this happen sooner? The Government has never given an adequate explanation as to why it didn’t bother to collect the data earlier than August 23.

“If we had the data from vaccinated travellers in April or May, potentially tens of thousands more people could have come safely through the border much earlier than now.

“The Government’s changes should also go much further. This is about the bare minimum that the Government could have done, and it won’t help Kiwis offshore desperate to return home. The stories of human misery and hardship that populate the inboxes of Members of Parliament are harrowing. The sooner we can end this lottery of human misery, the better.

“We need to quickly move to a situation where fully vaccinated travellers from low-risk jurisdictions do not have to isolate at all, assuming they have a negative pre-departure and post-arrival test. National would introduce this once New Zealand is at 85 per cent fully vaccinated, which is only weeks away. This would mean thousands of travellers from places such as Queensland could be home for Christmas.

“National’s ‘Opening Up’ Plan also calls for travellers from medium-risk locations, such as parts of the US, the UK and some states of Australia, to be allowed to skip MIQ and isolate at home for seven days.

“It’s time we reopened to the world. We can’t remain shut behind the walls of Fortress New Zealand. Today’s news is a good start, but there is so much more to do.”

Halving the time people are required to stay in MIQ will free up some rooms – but many of them will be taken up with people from the community who have been diagnosed with Covid-19 so the change won’t do much to improve the changes of the tens of thousands of people forced to take their chances with the MIQueue lottery.

That includes business people, one of whom, challenged the government in court:

A High Court judge has ordered the government to take a second look at an Auckland richlister’s bid to bypass the MIQ system by self-isolating at his gated home following a high-stakes business meeting in the pandemic-ravaged United States.

Justice Geoffrey Venning issued the brief ruling from the bench on Thursday. He is expected to issue a full written ruling on Friday. . . 

Bolton, who is 73 and has received both Covid-19 jabs, sought a judicial review after the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) rejected his MIQ exemption application. The landmark case argues that the system unreasonably limits citizens’ freedom of movement and breaches the Bill of Rights Act.

Part of his proposal was to take a private jet to and from the United States so as to reduce his risk of being exposed to Covid-19. Upon return, he and his partner would stay at their gated home in the swank Auckland suburb Herne Bay for two weeks – the same amount of time people are required to stay at MIQ facilities, if they’re lucky enough to get a spot – and submit to all testing requirements.

High-profile lawyer John Billington QC argued that his client would be more likely to catch Covid-19 if in an MIQ facility rather than following his own proposed plan. The Crown, however, argued that the biggest risk would be attending the board meeting in Boston. . .

Would the risk at the board meeting be very different from that of buying groceries or any of the other activities permitted in ‘pandemic-ravaged’ Auckland?

The government has made us fearful, boasting of the months of freedom we enjoyed while others were locked down last year, but unwilling to loosen control to enable us to enjoy some of the freedom those overseas have now.

As Russell Coutts says:

The fact is that people are living with Covid offshore and although some people, perhaps many, rightly remain cautious, life has largely returned to normal in many places. But that is not what we are being told here in New Zealand.

The erosion of our freedom of choice, freedom of speech and the loss of precious time with family and friends and all the other negative aspects of a lockdown should be balanced against the health risk of Covid. Imagine if we had invested the 1 billion plus spent each week on lockdowns on improving our health system, education or roading (we had 8 road deaths in NZ last weekend).

It seems totally insane that double vaccinated people are terrified of meeting unvaccinated people. Is that how it’s going to be for the rest of our lives? What about the people that have health issues and can’t get vaccinated? Are they going to be banished from society? (for the record I’m double vaccinated).

Finally the fact that the NZ government has now said that even if Auckland achieves 90% double vaccination that it’s people may likely still be restricted from traveling at Christmas seems like a total nonsense. (For those overseas people reading this, Auckland already has 93% first dose and 82% second dose vaccinated – the entire country has 87% first dose and 72% double dosed).

It’s also total nonsense and contradictory that double vaccinated people that have negative covid tests are being locked down for 14 days in MIQ whilst people with Covid are being allowed to self isolate in the community.

How New Zealand, a country where it’s people greatly valued freedom off choice…..how we even got to this stage of blindly accepting this sort of unilateral rule, power and dictatorship from our government is deeply troubling indeed.

 Fear was part of what got us here  – fear of the disease, fear of overwhelming the health system, fear of death.

As more of us get vaccinated, as many people with Covid-19 are at home rather than in MIQ or hospital, and with better treatments for the disease available, is that fear justified or has it become an overused  political weapon?

7 Responses to Too little, too slow

  1. Andrei says:

    This has always been political Ele

    Covid is a new variety of a virus that has been endemic in the human population since the beginning of time

    And healthy people in the prime of life are well equipped to take it in their stride

    People in the terminal phase of their life may not be able to deal with it and it may be the agent that triggers their final decline, C’est la vie

    My mother caught a “cold” went to the GP who wanted to admit her to hospital

    “No” she said. “I am going home”.

    And she did

    The family gathered

    The Priest came

    And she died surrounded by her family and being nursed by my eldest daughter who had just qualified at that time

    That is about as good as it gets IMHO

    We will all die someday – Jacinda can’t save us and who wants to die with tubes coming out of every orifice, machines beeping and faceless people in PPE clad in rubber and plastic

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  2. Teletext says:

    Well said Andre. Am sorry to hear of your loss. Please accept my sympathies and I’m sure those of many other Homepaddock readers.

    I have a niece who is a nurse and has worked in many countries. For the past 20+ years she has been working in Saudi Arabia and now feels it is time to return home for good and use her skills here. She first went there as a nurse to a member of the royal family but since then has moved on to be the headed of training for their nursing school. She has also gained many new skills and qualifications, some of which no other person in NZ has.

    She is due to resign her position but cannot do so until she has an MIQ spot here as when she resigns, she will have to leave SA on a specific date and if she doesn’t she will be arrested and deported on that day. There are no tourists in Saudi Arabia.

    She has tried numerous times to get an MIQ spot without luck so is unable to return and therefore unable to resign her position. If she can’t do so by the middle of next month she will have to renew her contract which means another 3 years there.

    Her mother (my sister) turned 90 this year and is in poor health and desperate to see her daughter. The country is also missing out on having a highly experienced and qualified medical professional available to help with the pandemic. Where’s the help from this “kind” government. They don’t give a s#@t!

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  3. Andrei says:

    Teletext the loss of loved ones is part of life – it is always sad to see them go of course – it is much sadder when a parent has to bury a child, as Ele has had to face, than when a child has to bury a parent which has been my experience

    I was raised Russian Orthodox, still am and that kind of inculcates into you the concept that this life is finite I suspect

    I think the modern Western mind tries to blot this reality out

    From an early age we were exposed tp the deceased in their coffins – my dad would lift me up and I would kiss the departed on the forehead

    Now I see in some Western people distaste for open coffins, they are uncomfortable and avoid looking…

    One of the cruelties of these lockdowns has been the inability of people to bury their dead according to their customs

    Even worse, and I’m sure most if not all of us will be familiar with cases of this, is the elderly in homes unable to see their families

    One guy I know had his first great grandson born during lockdown but was unable to ever meet him, “to keep him safe”

    It made no difference in the finish, his last days were spent isolated in the rest home and he never got to meet the little boy

    That is sad

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  4. Heather Adam says:

    In my experience, the difference between the death of a child and death of a parent is massive. My lovely teenage daughter, whose teachers were telling me ‘would achieve a lot in this world’ was killed by a careless driver on her way home from school. I had to push aside my emotions in order to get on with my life as the bread-winner, consequently accused of being hard hearted. When my parents died a few years later, 90 and 93, neither wanted to be here any longer and the emotion was sadness mixed with relief … two very, very different experiences.

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  5. homepaddock says:

    The death of anyone we love is sad. The death of elderly people is the natural order of things, outliving our children is not. The bureaucratic intransigence that is keeping families and friends away from funerals and supporting the grieving is inhumane. The bureaucratic intransigence that Teletext refers to that is keeping a health professional, whose skills are desperately needed is worse than stupid.

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  6. Teletext says:

    Thanks Ele, you picked up my point perfectly. She would be a great asset to the healthcare here.

    Her mother has had to bury a son and a son-in-law plus we have lost 3 others from that generation, but the hardest loss we have had is when I had to bury my grandson a few years ago. That really hurt.

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  7. homepaddock says:

    Burying your grandson and the grief that came with it would be so hard. One of the best resources I’ve found on grief is here: https://refugeingrief.com/

    Like

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