More lessons from a pandemic…..
My last article on the traffic light system produced the most feedback I have ever received, both positive and negative. This tends to reflect the state of the country right now. Part of my argument was that vaccination alone was not enough to keep Covid at bay, and that other control measures should not be cast aside. I also stated that vaccination was primarily a form of PPE, protecting against infection. It’s always good to admit when you have made a mistake, apologise, and try and set the record straight.
So, for the record, vaccination is also considered an engineered control, in that it not only protects an individual from becoming infected, it also reduces the probability of passing the virus onto someone else. The figures are that vaccination reduces infection by 75%, hospitalisation by 95%, and transmission by 65%. Thankyou to all those who pointed this out to me, and my apologies for not doing the research and getting this correct.
Now the country has a new challenge with the Omicron variant. On the radio this morning one covid modeller was predicting 50,000 infections per day by Waitangi weekend, which as I write this is only two and a half weeks away. In a situation like this it is always best to plan for the worst and hope for the best.
The GM Health and Safety Forum and HASANZ have produced an excellent document for organisations on the principles of living with Covid, and I urge all members to read this document and plan accordingly.
What lessons can we take from what has happened in recent times. The Government’s strategy of containment via contact tracing and self-isolation has worked extremely well for Delta, but at some stage between the current 15 Omicron cases per day and the 50,000 predicted, the system will not cope.
If we try to suppress the number of cases by increasing isolation, we then disrupt businesses and supply chains, threatening our livelihoods and essential services. If we minimise that disruption by allowing people to return to work earlier, then more people will get infected and our public health system could become overwhelmed. Trying to balance these two competing scenarios is the Governments challenge.
The reality for me is that at some point I will either get infected or be a close contact of someone that has been. This could be a family member, a work colleague, or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. As Christchurch is essentially a village with only one degree of separation between all citizens, this is highly likely.
On a personal level I then need to plan for self-isolation. On an organisational level we need to plan for many of our members (or employees) to also be self-isolating. At a community level we need to plan for many people being in self isolation and ensure that their physical and emotional wellbeing is being taken care of. This should be at the centre of all our pandemic plans.
Kia kaha New Zealand.
Paul Duggan, General Manager