Aardvark DailyNew Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.
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Welcome to the start of a new year.
People around the world were glad to see the back of 2020, with many claiming it was the worst year in their lives.
Pandemic, political instability in the USA, fires in Australia, Brexit... it's pretty hard to find a nation or individual who wasn't adversely impacted in some way or other by the events of a year that was filled with drama and crisis for most.
But hey, now it's 2021 so we're all looking forwards with optimism and a bright-eyed outlook, right?
Well let's hope so but an analysis of the year so far doesn't leave 2021 looking much better than 2020 I'm afraid.
Covid19 is now worse than ever in many countries, with new, more contagious strains seemingly popping out of the woodwork left, right and centre.
Of course nobody should be surprised by that. Dawinism dictates that those mutations of a virus that are more easily caught are naturally going to dominate over less transmissable variants. Fortunately, the new strains don't seem to be any more lethal or damaging than those from which they have originated so we should be thankful for that.
However, while we're all patting ourselves on the back for having squashed community transmission of the disease, I fear we are simply too complacent and riding for a fall.
Yes, arrivals to NZ are isolated and those showing signs or having tested positive for CV19 are quarantined... but time after time we're seeing that the systems that provide such protection are too flawed to provide any guarantees.
Just a few weeks ago a fire-alarm in one of the isolation hotels forced people out onto the streets (you know... that place where the public can often be found) and this isn't the first time it has happened. Clearly nobody is concerned enough to create a mitigation strategy for such events and I don't think that's good enough.
Then, just a week or so ago the Hamilton Court building went into emergency lockdown after someone who works in one of the isolation/quarantine hotels turned up to court showing CV19 symptoms. Again we should recall that worker infection is a proven vector for the disease making its way back into the community.
It is sobering to consider that all the hard work we've put in to eliminating community transmission of CV19 could be lost in an instant when one of these new, far more communicable strains makes it past our rather porus defenses.
Looking at the daily stats it's clear that the number of new CV19 cases arriving in isolation is growing rapidly with 31 new cases reported in just the past three days.
Experts are warning that the UK variant raises risk of community transmission yet, in what must surely be stupidity of mind-boggling magnitude, we keep our borders open and keep the risk extremely high that the next time a slip-up happens, the entire country may end up back in L4 lockdown.
After all the sacrifice and hard work we've invested to get to where we are now, why on earth are we risking it all for little or no reason?
I've heard officials claim "we can't stop Kiwis from returning home"... to which I say "yes you can, you did it in the original L4 lockdown" so don't BS me.
It's also clear that anyone who has left NZ during the past nine months did so in full awareness that there's a pandemic going on and that their ability to return could be significantly compromised by that so they can't feign surprise should they be told "sorry, doors are closed".
The sensible thing to do would be to close the borders totally until we've been able to vaccinate our most vulnerable citizens here in NZ. If what we're told is true, that would only be a few months away. By doing this, we protect our economy and our people. It just makes sense.
Sadly however, it seems that our politicians are just blowing in the wind, having somehow lost their backbones and the resolute stance that enabled us to get to the privileged position we now find ourselves in. What the hell is wrong with these people?
Personally, I'm stocking up on a few essentials for the *inevitable* lockdown that many have predicted for later this month -- once one of these new strains gets out into the community. Hopefully I'll not need the extra provisions but it is better to have and not need than need and not have.
Perhaps government has been lulled into a false sense of security by the way they've managed to contain outbreaks of the original CV19 by way of local lockdowns. What they now fail to appreciate is that these new strains spread far more quickly and easily and we are now in the summer holiday season which means people are moving about the country in far greater numbers. One person leaking the new CV19 virus into our community could end up seeing hundreds (or more) infected by the time that infection is picked up. By that time those people may have dispersed around the country and already begun infecting many thousands of others. The only solution to that is another nation-wide lockdown.
Why is it that almost all the world's politicians seem to be broken and how can we fix that?
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