Clark and Walker done in by ignored political party shortcomings

The Editor,  The Herald,  Auckland


It seems there is one similarity between the demise of the Nats’ Hamish Walker and that of Labour’s David Clark.  In both cases, they have been downed by a serious flaw in the approach to the virus by their respective party leaderships. Read the rest of this entry »

Opposition (+) reveals impatience and shallowness, but government must take some responsibility for that

The Editor,  The Dominion Post,  Wellington


It should be no surprize there are teething problems with the virus border control processes.  Read the rest of this entry »

“Military intelligence is an oxymoron”, especially in the virus world.

The Editor,  The Dominion Post,  Wellington


“Military intelligence” is an oxymoron.  Read the rest of this entry »

Government and NZ likely not prepared for Level 3

The government’s stretch of level 4 past the holiday weekend is a no-brainer.  Read the rest of this entry »

Viruses mutate; modern day mass hosts provide unprecendented opportunity

Not knowing much about viruses I’ve been doing a bit of reading recently.  Read the rest of this entry »

Not enough testing to understand ‘community transmission’

My main criticism of the government’s response to the Covid-19 crisis is that they should have been more transparent from the start about their inadequate testing regime.  They should have said at the start they were not going to do enough testing to know adequately the extent of ‘community transmission’.   It’s important to realize that it is in the medium and long term that expanded, perhaps widespread, lack of faith in the government’s approach may surface because of this.  As we near the end of the first Level 4 period it will be interesting what they will say about expanding testing for community transmission, if anything.

It’s common sense to be universally testing workers in ‘essential activities’.  The obvious ones are those involved with the health system where exposure is more likely, and food store workers where great numbers of individuals will be turning up.  Sure, it’s a lot of work to test everyone of those but a person may have contracted the virus before symptoms occur, and more worrying, some may have contracted the virus and never display symptoms.  Both types being carriers and transmitters, but invisible and silent like in Edgar Allen Poe’s famous short story ‘The Mask of the Red Death’.  There’s too much ‘leakage’ in symptom only testing.  The government needs to explain why they are not doing enough testing (they know they are not doing enough testing). (*Note 1)

At risk of carrying on too long here, I’ll speculate about the usefulness of random country-wide testing, possibly doing a bit more in suspected more-vulnerable areas.  Just finding one person infected (perhaps even without symptoms) in an area would identify where normal multiple transmission expectation could result in exponential spread of the virus.  Without finding that person it might be just as dangerous to be out in that location as the areas identified as hotspots, but not know it.

Currently my thought about dangers to myself is that I’ll not want to go out after the lockdown ends, with return to Level 3 or Level 2, because not enough is known about community transmission.  And in particular going to the supermarket is going to seem the same in terms of danger, looking around the store, without confidence that community transmission is mostly understood (which it isn’t).


  • Note 1 – It isn’t only testing for community transmission where such ‘leakage’ would seem to be expected.  The term ‘self-isolation’ has doubt written all over it.  It’s actually good the few examples (in the hundreds identified by police) there have been in the first two weeks.  But with the end of Level 4 being discussed those numbers may grow over the next two weeks.  ‘Quarantine’ is a much different term and by defining the strict terms of quarantine now, the government is admitting the softness and expected leakage during our time of ‘self-isolation’.   The strictness of quarantine should keep open the discussion about greatly increased community wide testing.   It is interesting that only today (09/04) have they begun to explain the limitations of not doing enough when explaining the change to quarantine.  They should have explained that at the start three or four weeks ago in order to put off possible growth in resistance later.  The same discussion may soon arise over community testing limitations.

Will Covid-19 bring the end of the Trump illusion?

The Editor,  The Sunday Star Times,  Auckland

There is a report from the USA that plans are being made for the military to take over running the country if the government in Washington DC is crippled by Covid-19. This report curiously appears even though President Trump has tested negative and Senator Rand Paul is the only one I know who has tested positive. Is there more to the virus spread in Washington than has been revealed?

But just as interesting is Trump’s assertion that he wants a lockdown to last for only two weeks due to its economic impact, perhaps fearful that billionaires and large corporations may not come out more dominant from a prolonged shutdown. This appears to most as a trek into Neverland as the crisis has clearly raced onward.

It needs to be understood that Trump is not the real problem. Although dangerous, Trump is little more than a symbol and a symptom of a wider malaise, seen in the Post Truth Era that we are living through and which is global in dimension. So Trump already has the sound of a disembodied voice and may start fading from public view like Alice’s cheshire cat, leaving no trace in the global mind but the grin of an uncertain fear.

Richard Keller

Note (excerpts) commenting on the CONVID-19 response

Phil Goff in Auckland suggests many don’t understand what is going on and worries about acceptance of a shutdown. The government is taking a chance on losing support by moving without general understanding. Their problem I think is that they don’t have enough information to make confident decisions. There are apparently 1500 tests being done daily now but that few isn’t going to give us a good picture. Perhaps the govt would feel better if 15,000 tests were done daily and targeted properly. Even at 15,000 daily it would take about 9 months to get through the whole population. They are not explaining this uncertainty instead trying to fane certainty with Jacinda’s communications.

Murdoch earlier this week captured the political situation so well. Ardern is gripping the steering wheel of state with white knuckles, and Robertson is leaning on her shoulder, both with terrified looks on their faces. In the back is a white faced Bridges on the phone saying, ‘Can’t talk now; I’m holding the country together by sheer force of will”.

As far as us over 70’s are concerned our situation is being confused with the situation of those coming from overseas, and their connections. They need to be tested and kept in quarantine until results are known and only 14 days. That has been called ‘self-isolation’, a term with uncertainty written all over it. Over 70’s are not suspected generally of carrying the virus but are asked to stay mostly at home, indefinitely. I even heard on radio the term ‘self-isolation’ used in our context, which is irresponsible. This kind of restriction is tantamount to a life sentence with possibility of parole in 9 to 12 months, if lucky. There’s not enough clarity in all of this despite the PM’s manner.

Environment Minister Parker must collect and publish CO2 emission reduction figures

16 March, 2020

Hon David Parker
Minister for the Environment
Parliament Buildings

Hello Mr. Parker,

The actions taken to restrict travel to combat spread of the Coronavirus is unprecedented in New Zealand. Read the rest of this entry »