Friday, 27 August 2021

Public failed by slow testing and tracing


“The continuation of a nationwide Level 4 lockdown shows the current technology can’t trace an outbreak unless the entire country is locked down,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Jacinda Ardern knew all along that the virus takes 8-10 days to peak but led us to believe that we might come out of this early. The Government clearly had not done the kinds of scenario planning Brian Roche recommended and was left flying blind.

“The big question now, is how will New Zealand be any better prepared for future outbreaks under this Government. How will the Government use its time now better than it used the past 18 months?

“New Zealanders deserve certainty, not being teased with freedom only to have their hopes dashed one drip fed extension at a time. We all need certainty to plan for our businesses, know how long we’ll be home-schooling and to organise our lives.

“The way Ardern presented this is yet more spin. She just extended the rest of country for four days but dressed it up as a drop next Tuesday.

“We deserve an explanation about why the South Island wasn’t prioritised for testing and tracing so they could be released earlier. Sadly, the answer appears to be that contact tracing is of zero use. Unable to trace and test to the edge of an outbreak, we instead have to rely on a full 14-day cycle to eliminate the possibility of cases we don’t know about.

“This does not bode well for New Zealand's future if a single outbreak takes two weeks of nationwide Alert Level 4 to contain, and that’s just the beginning. Level 3 is almost as strict and will provide little relief for many.

“People want to know what the future holds, we cannot continue with lengthy lockdowns.

“The fact that contact tracers have been trained during lockdown shows the Government had not considered the mathematics of Delta.

“There are now 108 wastewater testing sites, up from 26 at the beginning of the outbreak. The problem is we have little data from the first days of the outbreak. The Government clearly hadn’t considered the need for wastewater testing before the outbreak.

“ACT continues to have concerns about vaccine supply. That there are 90,000 vaccinations per day, is only a triumph if it’s sustainable. Otherwise, it’s a stunt. The rate of 630,000 vaccinations per week is nearing twice the procurement rate of 380,000 per week. At the current rate it will run out in 10 days. The Government needs to explain what it is doing to increase vaccine supply.

“The Government needs to let us know what steps it is taking so we don’t have to endure a nationwide Level 4 lockdown for two weeks every time there is a case.”