The winter wave of viruses has lead to France increasing the curfew for its citizens and more cases in the USA. The Belgian foreign minister has got the bug and the Celtic fringe of the UK are going for a hard lockdown. The local medical journal notes:
But our pandemic planning was done mainly with influenza in mind, and here we are confronted by a novel coronavirus. In the race to find a vaccine the scientific world is quickly finding out a lot more about the virus itself, but we don’t really know as yet how this particular virus will behave as it passes through large populations. COVID-19 is highly infectious, with high case fatality for the elderly.
The 1918 A/H1N1 influenza pandemic saw three distinct waves across 18 months. The first wave was quite mild, a doctor’s delight: “many people sick, not many dying”. But the second wave later in the year was much more severe and killed an estimated 50 million people. The third wave in 1919 was less severe, and did not affect all countries equally. Australia came through with a very low death rate, whereas some regions in Japan suffered losses almost as bad as in 1918.
Will this COVID-19 pandemic be all over in one wave, or will it recur? The 1889–94 ‘Russian’ flu pandemic kept coming back in successive waves, but with declining death rates and a low overall mortality of only about one million. We are in uncharted waters with COVID-19. Computer modelling has been exceptionally helpful in predicting the short-term curve, based on normal epidemiological patterns, the reproduction rate of the virus, and the effect of mitigation measures. We can only hope that this virus stays stable and does not start transmuting into anything nastier.
In some respects COVID-19 is already much nastier than flu for the elderly. The 1918 virus tended to produce secondary infections of bacterial pneumonia, and most people had a fighting chance of recovering from that, but COVID-19 seems to penetrate much deeper into the lungs, causing destructive viral pneumonia. As patients become breathless, they lack oxygen, and need mechanical respiration in order to survive.
We have all been shocked by the scenes in hospitals in Northern Italy, where predominantly elderly patients have been dying in large numbers. In Spain old folks have been left to die alone. Though India has at last moved to a lockdown, it remains to be seen how that vast population will cope with rapidly escalating infection rates, and the possibilities for much of Africa are almost too terrible to think about. Nick Wilson’s modelling now warns that if the present strategy fails New Zealand could be facing a very severe outcome, with 8,000 to 14,000 deaths. But China has shown that drastic measures can eliminate the infection.
Whether this pandemic comes to be called ‘the Exodus of the Elderly’ or ‘the Pensioners’ Plague’ is up to some future historian to decide, but one thing is starkly clear at this point. If present measures fail, this could be the most severe test our hospital system has ever had to face.
Geoffery RIce, NZMJ
That is true, but the current infection rate is quite low. We are moving into summer. In general, people do better in summer. We still have isolation — if you travel elsewhere (including Australia) you have to isolate in a hotel for 2 weeks at your expense on return. This has stopped business meetings and conferences. Everything is now virtual
In the meantime, a man left the port where he had been working and goes to the pub. The question is if he knew he had the virus or not. It’s fairly clear that the systems we have will be vulnerable to human activity.
A pub has closed for two weeks, a gym has shut its doors and schools are alerting parents to links to our latest Covid-19 cases. Luke Kirkness traces the spread of the virus from a port worker on a foreign vessel to Auckland’s North Shore.
A marine engineer believed to have caught Covid-19 while visiting a ship is thought to have then passed on the virus to at least two other people.
The two others are thought to be colleagues of the engineer and between them, they visited a pub, a gym and a marine supply store before testing positive on Auckland’s North Shore.
It comes as holidaymakers prepare to leave the City of Sails for the long weekend and many start to question whether this is the start of a new cluster which could force the city back into lockdown.
Wearing a mask and gloves, the 27-year-old engineer worked in the Sofrana Surville at the Ports of Auckland on Tuesday, October 13.
The vessel had sailed from Papua New Guinea to the Solomon Islands, to Brisbane, to Tauranga and then to Auckland.
It comes as patrons who visited The Malt pub in Greenhithe last Friday night are being urged to self-isolate and get a swab.
A man attended the establishment between 7.30pm and 10pm before becoming sick and testing positive for Covid-19.
A North Shore gym has been forced to close for the next five days for deep cleaning after one of the cases visited the facility.
Please note, before bagging the engineer, that he was wearing gloves and a mask as per the current regulations. That was not sufficient, clearly. If you want to stop a virus, you wear full PPE, and then take breaks frequently, changing the PPE each time.
Port workers go home every night, as do those who work with the people in isolation hotels.
So, how did this person, who spent three hours sinking piss at the pub wind up with the virus?
It can only have come through the border. Or it is now super tricky, like really, really tricky.
It is no surprise then that we are now being frightened and scared again by Health officials. They are now once again softening us up for another Auckland wide lockdown.
They’ve amped up the peer pressure for the Snitch App, which BTW I still have not installed on my phone. It’s bad enough that I’m being spied on by the GCSB (yes it’s true) without adding more government snitches to the list.
So, as a special thanks for duly taking the knee and voting for Jacinda Ardern despite her legacy of failure in general and at the border, we are now being softened up for yet another lockdown because it appears that the border has leaked yet again.
I wonder if they will shamelessly keep on using their now obvious lies as they tell us that this time, if we comply, it will be the last time.
I don’t think there is any doubt that this won’t be the last lockdown, despite the WHO saying that they are detrimental and don’t work. It’s the only tactic the “Fairy Princess” has, so for those of you who still have jobs and businesses get ready for your turn to be the sacrifice we must make to stop what is now a super-fit and tricky virus.
See you on the dole queue.
Cam Slater, The BFD
The question unmentioned by the virologists is how this is changing our society. Non adherence to a set of restrictions that are not consistent will happen. It helps to not be a complete tool on things that don’t make much difference, but it also helps if things are consistent. They are not.
On my American flight from Dallas to Aspen, the stewardess did a good imitation of Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS. She noticed that though I was wearing my mask—which, of course, is required at all times on the plane and in airports—but it only covered my mouth, not my nose. I was reprimanded.
But when she delivered apple juice, I was allowed to take my mask off entirely for the full hour it took me to sip the glass of juice. Further proof that the rules around the Great Hysteria are mostly annoying theater and laughably ridiculous.
The trouble here is that the response from the authorities who people interface with is ridiculous. The Karens have gone full nanny moron. This breeds resentment. No one knows if the virus is going to decrease in lethality and become another viral lurg that most people get most winters or be the 1918 flu, or get worse. This is not the 1918 flu.
Locally, the rules are generally ignored. But the social distress of our lockdowns remains. We have re elected the government, and they may find that they lose more people from the diseases of social despair (suicide, alcoholism, drugs) and from delays in getting care for cancers than they saved from COVID.
I’ve said for a while we won’t know for two years. But the masks did not make a difference for this worker. The only effective thing that the masks do is act as a symbol of solidarity.