Sunday, 31 October 2021

A Little honesty shows why offshore Kiwis can’t self-isolate


A little honesty from Andrew Little on Q+A this morning shows why Kiwis are stuck offshore waiting for MIQ, with Little saying “we expected to be in this position in probably six weeks to two months’ time." 

“Health Minister Andrew Little explained that home-isolation is failing, including a case being sent a clearance letter after four days’ isolation while he was still bedridden, by saying the growth in case numbers was six weeks to two months ahead of where the Government expected," says ACT Leader David Seymour. 

“Little’s admission explains so much. The vaccine roll out was late. Booster jabs are not ready. Hospital capacity is not ready. Rapid Antigen testing is not ready. Home isolation for travellers is only now being trialled. The truth is, this arrogant Government thought it had won, and COVID would never be in the community so it had all year to vaccinate.

“The MIQ announcement was a fizzer because the Government was unprepared to do anything but continue MIQ. It can’t support a few hundred people self-isolating, the real reason it can’t have offshore arrivals self-isolating is it can’t support the few hundred it has now.

“The Government’s response is now layering announcement upon announcement beside the MIQ fizzer, adding confusion and chaos. There’s the roadmap, there’s the traffic light, there’s the complex array of thresholds for reaching the traffic light system, schools might or might not open on November 15, and on it goes. The underlying cause is it's simply not prepared for what is happening. 

“ACT knows the Government has had robust proposals for self-isolation schemes. They are from credible operators it already uses for other purposes, but it has not taken it up. It should allow fully vaccinated Kiwis who’ve had a negative test to self-isolate using saliva testing and GPS technology, but has turned it down.

“The Government had 18-months to prepare for an outbreak and did nothing. Delta was first discovered in December and formally identified in May, but the Government didn’t take any steps at all until July.

“ACT has been saying for over a year that New Zealand needs a nimble, tech-enabled, risk proportionate response to COVID, prepared to manage it onshore if necessary, but the Government has said it knows best even as every other country except China abandoned elimination.

“What the Government should do is follow ACT’s COVID 3.0 plan, in five movements:

1. Recognise that eradication no longer stacks up. We must move to a policy of harm minimisation. This policy should aim to reduce transmission, hospitalisation, and death from COVID at the least possible cost of overall wellbeing.
2. Move from isolating whole cities to isolating only those who it makes sense to isolate. Personal isolation should be restricted to three groups: those who are medically vulnerable and require special protection, those who have recently arrived in New Zealand and are privately isolating, and those who have tested positive as part of widespread surveillance testing.
3. Move from chronic fear and uncertainty and get on a clear path to restoring freedom. We should settle when the vaccine rollout is ‘complete’ and aim to get Kiwis home for Christmas.
4. Move from a ‘government knows best’ approach to an approach of openness, and host all in ‘sprints’. In each sprint, the business community and all of society are invited to help reach clearly identified goals of lower transmission rates, hospitalisations and deaths, in time for reopening.
5. The entire tone of New Zealand’s COVID response should shift from fear and a singular focus on public health to a focus on maximising overall wellbeing.