“Australia has purchased 300,000 courses of an anti-viral medication ahead of approval, school kids in the UK are doing rapid antigen test twice a week and Canada has stockpiled oxygen saturation monitors, all while the New Zealand Government twiddles its thumbs,” says ACT Deputy Leader and Health spokesperson Brooke van Velden.

“Just because New Zealand dropped the ball on the vaccination rollout, it doesn’t mean we can’t come back in the second half and get this thing under control.

“New drugs and COVID therapies are approved and coming on the market all the time. Once they have had approval from the likes of the FDA, New Zealand should just get on with it.

“The Government needs a better plan for how the health system can cope. We need early planning for an approach where COVID becomes endemic. We need a plan for unexpected surges in demand on the healthcare system, or the Isolation system.

“As part of Ontario’s COVID@Home Initiative, the Ministry of Health has stockpiled oxygen saturation monitors to be used by GPs to monitor COVID-19 positive patients at home. Written Questions from ACT have revealed our Government hasn’t even sought advice about them.

“Pulse oximeters can be used by people diagnosed with covid and used to show oxygen levels at home. They can be monitored by GPs in the community. If oxygen levels drop that is an indication that the person needs hospitalisation.

“Being told we could afford a slow vaccine rollout because we didn’t have COVID in the community is one of the most reckless things any Government in New Zealand has ever done and we are now paying the price, with our freedom.

“Let’s learn from this mistake and speed up the health response now.

“New Zealanders are tired of the uncertainty, we want to see the finish line, instead we’re on a road to nowhere."

ACT would:

  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.

“We’re ready to open up to the world, get back to school, get back to business, regain our freedoms, and live our lives to our best potential.”

ACT’s Covid 3.0 plan can be found here.