Heather du Plessis-Allan: Government made a mistake putting Auckland into level 3

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Thu, 4 Mar 2021, 4:07PM

Heather du Plessis-Allan: Government made a mistake putting Auckland into level 3

Author
Heather du Plessis-Allan,
Publish Date
Thu, 4 Mar 2021, 4:07PM

I hate to say this, but it’s starting to feel like they made a mistake putting Auckland into this lockdown.

We’ve just had another day of zero cases. In fact, we’ve had five days of zero cases.

Today was supposed to be D day when we find out how many people at that gym in Papatoetoe got sick from the 21-year-old. We’ve had 156 tests come back from the gym-goers and none are positive. There are still 29 outstanding, so maybe something comes up tomorrow.

Now, I know I’m saying this with the benefit of hindsight, but what I’m going to argue is that level three should not be used in a panic by the PM and Dr Bloomfield.

If they’d just waited a day before putting us in Level 3, they wouldn’t have needed to. 

The reason they put us in Level 3 was the same reason they’ve done it in the past: someone is sick and they don’t know how they got sick, which means they don’t know how big the cluster is.

On Saturday that person was the 21-year-old who went to the gym. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told media that night: “As we all know so well, if we cannot immediately link a case person to person – what we call an epidemiological link – that is a significant issue, and one we need to act on.”

That was Saturday night. By 7am Monday, Ardern said publicly that they did know how the boy got sick; he got it from his mum, who got it from the first family’s mum. 

At that point, we already didn’t have to be in level 3 because we knew the direct travel of the virus, he didn’t catch it form some massive uncontrolled outbreak we weren’t aware of. 

If they’d just waited 24 hours or so to finish the questioning of the boy and his mum, they would’ve known the link and wouldn’t have needed to put all of Auckland, our biggest city, into Level 3 lockdown.

Now fair enough if you argue that that risked a lot of potential spread in those 24 or so hours, to which I would say use Level 2 if you’re worried.

If the government is prepared to use Level 2 restrictions across the country as a precaution, then they could do the same for Auckland.

That’ll give them the time to finish the interviews with people like that boy and his mum, and gather the necessary evidence 

At the moment, they are making massive decisions with incomplete evidence and they only need to wait a day to gather the rest of the evidence and settle their minds. 

Perhaps before using one of the biggest and most expensive levers they’ve got, which is affecting people’s lives all over this city,.they might just want to make sure they have a complete picture - because, based on the growing evidence, they’ve made a mistake.