ZB

Kate Hawkesby: Omicron is not worth the hype

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 1 Mar 2022, 8:13am
(Photo / NZ Herald)
(Photo / NZ Herald)

Kate Hawkesby: Omicron is not worth the hype

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Tue, 1 Mar 2022, 8:13am

My brother had Covid last week. Omicron struck him and his whole family, save for one child. 

He was asymptomatic, bar a dry cough and a tickly throat. All of which he said under normal circumstances he would’ve gone to work with. It lasted 3 days, he said he wouldn’t even rank it in the top 10 of head colds. So, from where he sat, it wasn’t worth the fear and angst afforded it. 

I’m sure there are those gravely affected by it – those unvaxxed, or with underlying health conditions, or immune-compromised, or elderly or young children. But for the majority, it’s so low key the CDC in America don’t recommend more than a 5-day isolation period is necessary. So my brother’s view is that it’s not worth the fear, the social dislocation, the decimation of tourism, hospo and international education.

He doesn’t see the need for the $80 billion debt blow out and human misery. The massive toll on mental health, and elective surgeries. He sees the condescending endless barrage of expensive overly researched slogans, made up graphics, and ever-changing frameworks and traffic lights as a waste of time. 

This Government's big on marketing, advertising, social media. It’s a government steeped in comms and marketing, but light on actual substance. A lot of ads, posters and billboards, but not enough ICU beds, health workforce manpower, PCR testing capability, RAT kit procurement and distribution. No amount of teddies in windows and ‘be kind’ motorway signs can make up for the fact that as ‘feel good’ as they wanted our response to look, it fell flat in real hard data. The beds, the tests, the RATS, the PPE, the staff. 

So now as we face the full brunt of our outbreak, what does the Government of this self-proclaimed world leading response do? 

They abdicate. The day my brother tested positive he was told he’d be notified by Public Health on what to do next, 5 days later still nothing. In fact, the day they finally called him to ‘contact trace’ was also the day the announcement came that contact tracing was being abandoned.  

So a late, and as it turns out wasted, phone call. 

What should the Government be doing here? Well firstly, accept (like every other country in the world) that Omicron is mild to moderate and has overrun our response plan. In line with that they need to make positive result isolation periods 5 days not 10. 

Remove all onerous scanning in requirements from businesses given there’s no contact tracing now anyway. Disband MIQ immediately, welcome back international visitors and attempt to rebuild our tourism, international education and hospitality sectors.  

Then we might be able to address the real issues we’re facing like increased cost of living, our debt to GDP, our emaciated labour market, low productivity, a failing education system, our mental health crisis, housing, the creeping co-governance by stealth to name a few.

Oh and an added bonus – the protestors would go home. Surely that’s a win-win.