Kate Hawkesby: Ministry of Health dropping the ball has led us to new lockdown

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Mon, 1 Mar 2021, 11:50AM
Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield. (Photo / NZ Herald)
Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Kate Hawkesby: Ministry of Health dropping the ball has led us to new lockdown

Author
Kate Hawkesby,
Publish Date
Mon, 1 Mar 2021, 11:50AM

Here we go again. Groundhog Day.

I saw the headline that the PM was “frustrated”. Really? She's frustrated? How do you think the “team of 5 million” feel?

Because actually, despite her insistence on continuing to use this line, there is no team of 5 million. There’s a good chunk of New Zealanders taking Covid seriously, scanning, using the app, isolating when they’re supposed to, but there’s also sadly a selfish group of people - as evidenced by this latest case in South Auckland - who couldn’t give a stuff.

Don't isolate, won’t test, don't follow the rules, are happy to jeopardize everyone else’s health, wellbeing and now livelihoods.

The PM said not to play the blame game, she said not to point fingers - but that was right after she said herself that these people had let us down, that the new case had broken the rules while he should have been isolating - instead going to the gym, a mall, a supermarket, Burger King and Polytech.

She said this behaviour created 'multiple high risk situations'. But let’s not assign blame.

Actually, if we are to assign blame, I blame the ineptitude of the Ministry of Health. The handling of this latest cluster has been a shambles. It’s been bungle after bungle. Slack contact tracing, ineffective communication, this 'high trust’ model they keep running has been shown up for what it is - a disaster. High trust, low enforcement- which seems this governments mantra for everything these days, has proven detrimental and extremely costly to every New Zealander.

We are in lockdown because of someone ignoring the rules, yes, but it's the Ministry who've dropped the ball here. And they know it.

The PM looked exasperated at that hastily called Saturday night press conference. She looked angry and frustrated. When asked if this lockdown is a direct result of them not handling this cluster well enough in the first place she revealingly said “not necessarily” - that's not a convincing 'no'.  

There are many who will just blame Covid for this, say it’s such a tricky virus. But we need to take the blinkers off and look beyond the virus itself and start looking critically at the real issue - the handling of it.

Countries are functioning in direct correlation to how their leaderships have handled Covid. It’s not so much the virus but our response to it.

We didn’t hustle hard enough to get to the front of the vaccine line, we are not vaccinating fast enough, our contact tracing is not gold standard - emailing people who don’t respond and waiting for them to spread the virus further before acting is not a proficient way to handle anything. We have fiddled while Rome burns.

All we are left with when leaderships sit on their hands is knee jerk reactions, waiting until the horse bolts before trying to fix anything.

It's an incompetent way to run things, and now each and every one of us is paying the price for that.