It’s slowly dawning on the country that this Auckland lockdown might not work.
There were 23 cases on Wednesday.Fifteen cases on Thursday.Nine cases on Friday.Sixteen yesterday.After five and a half weeks, we know enough to know those numbers should be much closer to nil if not nil already.
Even Ashley Bloomfield was forced to finally admit this week what we’ve all started to realise: that we “may not get back to zero” in Auckland.
That admission makes it tricky for the PM to extend Auckland’s lockdown any further beyond next week.If we’re still clocking up cases, few will see logic in continuing with a failed lockdown
The truth is that the Government has already known this outcome for four weeks.That’s when analysts had already warned them zero might be unattainable.But they persevered with lockdown out of hope it might work.Then out of a need to bring down the number of cases further.And finally, to buy us more time to get jabbed.
The Government’s hope is that by Monday next week, Auckland will get close to 90 per cent first doses.That’ll give Cabinet the confidence to consider dropping us to level 2.That 90 per cent is possible, but it’s not looking good.We’ve been stuck at around 80 per cent for days and the numbers turning up to get their first jabs are dropping off almost daily.
At some point vaccinated Aucklanders are going to lose patience with this.We will become very aware of the fact that we’re being held hostage by unvaccinated Aucklanders, by those who haven’t bothered to get a jab yet.
How much longer can we keep children out of school, businesses closed and people stuck at home just to buy the last few malingerers a bit more time to make up their minds?After seven weeks in lockdown do any Aucklanders wanting a jab have any excuse for not getting one?At some point personal responsibly has to kick in.
The PM’s sell-job is made harder by the drop-off in public fear of Covid.Partly that’s because of the vaccine.Once you’ve got that Pfizer jab in your arm, you feel a lot safer.Selfishly, the lockdown doesn’t feel as necessary.You feel ready to take your chances.Also, this outbreak hasn’t been particularly scary.While it’s been big, we’ve only lost one life.
Even the fear-mongering from Professor Shaun Hendy on Thursday fell flat.No sooner had the PM wheeled him out to predict 7000 deaths a year unless we lift the jab rate well above 80 per cent, than his model was being shot down by others.Another government analyst Rodney Jones called it “overcooked” and pointed out these dire predictions aren’t playing out in the real world.In Singapore – a similar-sized country to NZ with a jab rate only slightly over 80 per cent – they’ve recorded only 16 deaths in a month.According to Hendy’s model they should’ve lost 540 people.
The calculation for the public and Cabinet now is whether we’d rather sit for weeks in a level 3 that can’t get to zero or a level 2 that can’t get to zero?If a group of disobedient Aucklanders – plenty of whom are in gangs – are going to keep breaking the rules and spreading Covid, would we rather the rest of us watched that from a locked down level 3 or a freer level 2?
Obviously a lot could change in the next week before Cabinet meets to consider Auckland’s lockdown.The outbreak could take off and freak Aucklanders out so badly that they want to remain locked down.The lockdown could turn a corner and suddenly hit a string of zeros justifying a final push to nil.
Unless either happens – or something similarly significant – each passing day that locked-down Auckland watches case numbers rumble along will probably have the opposite effect.It could make jabbed Aucklanders more impatient.It could make them feel more like hostages in a failing lockdown.
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