People criticising the criticism of the failures by the Government and its agencies are saying the critics should keep the failures in perspective.
They justify that by comparing New Zealand’s record on Covid-19 to that of other countries.
Fair enough, in raw numbers and per head of population our infection and death rates are low.
But that doesn’t excuse the failures that have been exposed, especially those we’ve learned of since the Auckland cluster was discovered.
Bryce Edwards, who no-one could accuse of being right wing, asks how serious are the government’s botch-ups?
Of course, there are good reasons to take the border botch-ups extremely seriously. After all, we have known from the start of this pandemic that the country’s borders need to be adequately managed if New Zealand is to achieve our objective of eliminating the virus. What’s more, the revelations of the last week point to more than simply “hiccups”, but serious dysfunction in the way the political system is supposed to work, with what some believe to be deliberate attempts to deceive the public over its failings.
As debate about the botch-ups has progressed, it seems likely that failures of Covid testing have led to the current lockdown. The testing botch-ups topic is, therefore, one of vital importance, especially if the country is going to learn from the failures and correct them. . .
The government and Health Ministry didn’t learn from mistakes made in the initial lockdown which makes it even more important to learn from the latest ones.
Given the importance of the borders, and making sure that those coming into the country don’t cause community transmission, the Government has been making promises for the last two months that every worker employed in relation to the border would be routinely tested. The Prime Minister, the Minister of Health, and the Director-General of Health have continued to reassure the public that such testing was being carried out.
Edwards quotes from several reports highlighting failures then asks should there be an inquiry into what has happened?
Various commentators and epidemiologists have been arguing for this to occur for some time. Although the Government continues to argue against deploying resources for such scrutiny while the crisis is still on, some experts say the need is all the greater to learn the lessons as soon as possible.
For example, University of Otago public health experts Nick Wilson and Michael Baker are reportedly both in favour of early inquiries: “the Government wasted the 100 days New Zealand was free of community transmission. They say any inquiry could offer advice to officials every few months, guiding the response to any future outbreaks” – see: Ben Strang’s Government urged to launch inquiry into its pandemic response.
According to this article, these epidemiologists believe “officials sat back and basked in New Zealand’s relative success during past pandemics, which meant systems and plans were not reviewed to an adequate standard.” . . .
National leader Judith Collins goes further, calling for a public health summit.
Judith Collins says that, as Prime Minister, she will convene a Public Health Summit to review lockdown levels and discuss other public health measures that avoid future lockdowns.
“We need to work out how our economy can flourish when it’s clear Covid-19 will be with us for some time,” Ms Collins says. “It is clear that the levels system needs to be reviewed in light of our experience, with a wide range of perspectives in the room.
“National’s border policy with a single protection agency and greater testing and contact tracing abilities is one step to ensuring the Kiwis remain safe from Covid-19, but if there are future threats as a country, we need certainty and transparency over what the process is if future outbreaks occur.
“We need to balance the social and economic costs, while ensuring the best possible health response.
“As Prime Minister I will convene an immediate Public Health Summit that would bring all aspects of our community together, from public health specialists, primary care teams, iwi leadership, Business New Zealand, manufacturing and the unions, so we can all agree on what’s best practice for the country.
“While we’re committed to the elimination approach, the Summit’s reviews of the levels will give us the best chance of recovering the jobs lost and preventing further loss.
“What’s clear is that Covid-19 is going to be with us for some time. We need to find the best ways of ensuring that we continue to eliminate this disease.
The health response can’t be divorced from the economic, social and other health consequences of the lockdown.
Covid-19 will be around for many months, possibly years. We can’t afford to have a repeat of any of the mistakes made and the government and its agencies must not only learn from them, they must come up with a better strategy for dealing with any further outbreaks.
New Zealand wasn’t prepared for this pandemic and it has made too many mistakes in handling it.
A health summit might be the best way to learn from those mistakes and come up with a better strategy not just for this pandemic but any future ones.