Isn't it remarkable that we are starting the year with exactly the same problem that we had last year, and the year before, which is that we are not ready for an outbreak.
I’m not angry. You’re not going to hear me raging about this.
But I am going to lay it out for you so you also understand how unprepared the government is for these omicron cases.
Let’s start with ICU: not ready.
According to that leaked report last week from the upper levels of government, we had 108 ICU beds spare.
That’s 36% of capacity. It’s not nearly enough if we get the 10s of thousands of daily cases Chris Hipkins is predicting
I’ll just remind you that last year we harped on at the government about needing to let doctors and nurses through MIQ, and do everything necessary to stop us losing the ones we had and they dragged their heels. So don’t be surprised by this.
Then we have the medication situation.
We still don’t have the two treatments in this country that should help keep you out of hospital if you take them early enough in the infection.
Paxlovid and Molnupiravir.
They’ve been approved in Australia, the UK, and the US, but we’re still waiting on Medsafe to give the medication their approval for NZ, and current projections are that that won’t be until April.
When we might be past the peak of this outbreak already.
Then there are the rapid antigen tests. We have 4.6 million tests in this country, not even enough for one for each of us.
That’s because when businesses were trying to buy them, they were banned by the government until late last year.
And now the government is scrambling to buy them… but there’s a worldwide shortage.
And finally, you’re being told already that you might have to look after yourself at home, stock up on paracetamol and necessities and not even get tested if you get omicron.
That’s because the government is already acknowledging there’s a very good chance the testing system will collapse under demand at the height of the outbreak.
Not to mention the fact that government MPs are on holiday today, on the first day of the red setting for the entire country.
Here we are with businesses affected, a list of questions Kiwis want answered and a list of decisions that need to be taken by cabinet.
But they’re observing Wellington Anniversary Day.
As I say, not angry. But I am a little surprised that the summer break wasn’t used to get us ready to handle a variant we knew was coming at the end of last year.
Heather du Plessis-Allan is a journalist and commentator who hosts Newstalk ZB's Drive show.
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