Dr Matt Boyd, Syndicated from Adapt Research
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, everybody now knows that:
- Warnings about pandemic disease had been touted for decades
- Myriad organisations had called for increased health security funding
- The world ignored all these warnings
- SARS-CoV-2 emerged in 2019 with dire consequences
The fact that all these warnings were known, yet action was scant, remains difficult to comprehend. Although somewhat perversely, we even knew we would ignore the warnings. Psychological research has shown that these kinds of rare but devastating events are exactly the ones humans tend to overlook. As if to drive this point home, I noted in the news today that a resident of Westport (a New Zealand town flooded by a ‘1 in 100 year event’) even stated that he knew the area had flooded, but thought “the last one was it”.
Amanda Kvalsvig, Nick Wilson, Cheryl Davies, Carmen Timu-Parata, Virginia Signal, Michael G. Baker
Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ’s) Alert Level system worked well in 2020, but the Covid-19 landscape is changing and the system needs to change with it to keep NZ ahead of the pandemic. In this blog we summarise our just-published recommendations for strengthening the Alert Level system and describe the benefits of an upgraded system: to better protect us from outbreaks, avoid lockdowns, help us transition to a post-vaccination future, support prevention of other respiratory disease epidemics, and uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Janet Hoek, Philip Gendall, Nick Wilson (author details*)
A feature of Aotearoa New Zealand’s COVID-19 elimination strategy is the rapid identification and then management of any COVID-19 cases arising from border system failures. Within the community, high QR code scanning rates enable rapid identification of contacts while wearing masks in indoor public settings, such as on public transport, reduces the risk of virus transmission. Yet scanning and mask wearing rates are variable, rising in response to immediate threats and falling off when those threats appear to diminish. While probably desirable to mandate these behaviours in high risk settings at raised Alert Levels, this blog considers the supplementary role for social marketing and environmental strategies that could “nudge” people towards these protective behaviours.
Amanda Kvalsvig, Nick Wilson, and Michael Baker
Aotearoa NZ’s effective Covid-19 elimination strategy is now threatened by the global emergence of new variants with increasingly high transmissibility. We outline the upgrades that are now urgently needed to keep New Zealanders safe, particularly in the light of the current outbreak risk in Wellington. Immediate actions include upgrading the Alert Level system with a particular focus on mask use, making the Covid Tracer App compulsory for high risk indoor venues, rapidly vaccinating all remaining border and frontline health workers, ensuring that all New Zealanders are able to stay at home when required, and upgrading the Trans-Tasman Bubble settings.
Prof Nick Wilson, Dr Leah Grout, Dr Jennifer Summers, Dr Amanda Kvalsvig, Prof Michael Baker*
Particular words and phrases can frame how issues are considered and the extent to which they imply the need for a corrective response to improve system design or delivery. After considering a range of words, we consider that the phrase “border system failure” comes closest to providing a clear, unambiguous description of situations where there are infectious cases in the community and corrective action is needed to protect public health. A typology for describing problems within NZ’s border control system could also include ways of classifying “border system hazards” that may represent “near misses” that should also stimulate corrective actions.