Francesca Rudkin: We should be reassured by our latest lockdown response

Author
Francesca Rudkin,
Publish Date
Sun, 21 Feb 2021, 12:08PM
Queues of people in cars waiting to be tested. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Francesca Rudkin: We should be reassured by our latest lockdown response

Author
Francesca Rudkin,
Publish Date
Sun, 21 Feb 2021, 12:08PM

A headline on the front page of the Herald yesterday read V-Day. A reference to the first day of vaccinations, and an obvious referenced to another V-Day or VE Day.

And like V-day, the beginning of our vaccination programme here in New Zealand is just that; the beginning of a long process to safely re-connect with the rest of the world.

Considering no one really knew when the program might start, it’s worth celebrating that we are under way in February – even if it will likely take the rest of the year to complete the rollout.

The other good news on the vaccine front is that research is starting to flow in, showing decent efficacy from just one dose and much better efficacy from the second. Research reported in The Guardian also implies the vaccines are resilient to new strains of Coivd, including future variants.

But it doesn’t mean we’re rushing back to our pre-Covid travel lives anytime soon. A milestone, a new chapter – call it what you want. Its’s just another step along the way, isn’t it?

But I do feel more comfortable as we travel down this long and unpredictable road, thanks to the sensible decision making by the government this week regarding lockdowns and alert levels. 

I wasn’t hugely surprised by the lockdown this week. When a case appears in the community, and there is no connection to the border, the expected response when taking an elimination approach is to go into lockdown.

For a moment there, there was a chance it was an overreaction, and while I’m sure the Prime Minister was disappointed to learn about another family being diagnosed with Covid, no doubt she also gave a small sigh of relief. While many of us slipped back into lockdown with experienced ease, it was a massive blow to many businesses and the hospitality sector, and the disruption needed to be justified.

Then, thankfully, the Prime Minister and her colleagues read the room. We all know politicians take into consideration what the public can tolerate when making decisions – Capital Gains Tax anyone?  Good polls depend on it. And this week we saw the Prime Minister consider the conservative scientific response, alongside the needs to the country, and made the right decision to lower alert levels after 72 hours.

The swiftness of moving alert levels is promising, especially as I doubt this will be the last time we enter into a lockdown.

While there are still questions around the border and location of our MIQ facilities, I think we should be very reassured by the outcome this week. The public threw masks on, there was an uptake of the Covid Tracer app – an average of almost 1,400,000 scans were made each day this week -  and the supermarkets, once in lockdown, were calm and quiet.

We all knew what to do, and got on with it.

As for the Australian woman sitting in our managed isolation facility for 26 days now refusing to have a Covid 19 test – how about we take some firm Scott Morrison like action, and just put her on the next plane back to Australia, and make some room for people who understand the requirements when travelling to New Zealand.

Apparently, the women who is vet nurse has refused to get tested unless she is given scientific evidence of the PCR tests safety and effectiveness. Why someone hasn’t provided this yet I don’t know. I’m presuming there’s a good reason we are using them!

The woman works for Australian Child care services and was bringing three kids back to New Zealand – why she agreed to the job knowing testing was a requirement I don’t know. The kids took the test and are back in the community. It seems like a heck of a lot of wasted energy and space dealing with this woman. Let’s give her what she wants and send her home.