The news that the vaccine timetable for those in Group 4 – most of the New Zealand population – has slipped from July to the ‘end of July’ is concerning enough on its own.
But now we also see that there is a small outbreak of Covid-19 cases in Melbourne, which authorities are scrambling to discover more about.
We will know more in just a few hours.
That we have a window in New Zealand where vaccination of the population will not be at a high level of Covid-19 vaccine coverage is a challenge. This window has most likely just got larger – or at least has changed shape, and not to our advantage. Pair this with what is going on across the Tasman, and also in the region, with increased number of cases in countries that have done relatively well in terms of their response to the pandemic – Singapore and Taiwan – and this is good reason for unease.
Even though this window of vulnerability is clear, and despite our borders remaining largely closed, accidents happen. We know the virus can escape from MIQ. We know that the flow of people traveling through the trans-taxman bubble can be turned on and off. But if cases have been undetected over the other side of the Tasman for a week, the shutting off the flow of people – who may incubate the virus – may be too little, too late.
This is all the more reason for New Zealanders to take extra, not fewer precautions in their daily lives until we have better vaccine coverage and protection for the vast majority of the population. Yet, when I see buses in Wellington, perhaps 5-10% are masked. And this a generous estimate. People are attributing their sniffles to winter colds and letting them pass, without thinking that a Covid-19 test is in order.
Case numbers are growing again across many places in South East Asia. India is nowhere near under control yet. New Zealanders are in a bubble, a cocoon of Covid-19 invulnerability, which may pop in a way that means that when we finally decide to increase our personal safety behaviours, it may be too late.
We need to adhere to public safety measures now.