One degree of separation: New Zealand’s Superpower and Covid-19 Vulnerability

We’ve all experienced the superpower. You meet someone and it turns out you both know someone in common. It can happen anywhere, in New Zealand, and even around the world when we travel. And it usually happens pretty early in the conversation too.

It’s the social glue that is our superpower

It brings us joy, and it also keeps us honest, too. But there is a dark side: it can feel like a burden, like everyone is watching us all the time. We can’t mess up without everyone knowing about it. It can be like living on social media all the time.

There is a darker side

The network effect which can bring us so many advantages outside of a pandemic can be our weakness with Covid-19. When we are only one degree of separation apart, and we live like this connectivity has no downside, this is when things can start to fall apart.

It’s been said a billion times, but basic public health measures are going to be needed, and possibly strengthened again soon, and for quite some time. We are tired and exhausted, but there is danger and we need to take care.

Getting vaccinated, practicing proper physical distancing, as well as masking when we need to. All of these measures are necessary but likely to be insufficient measures to stop the spread of the virus completely. That one degree of separation we all live with means that your contact with the virus is likely to get closer and soon.

We need to be prepared to ensure we tip the odds in our favour when that contact comes. That includes preparing those tasked to help us, including networks like civil defence and emergency management. Although health and social care sectors will bear much of the load, there will be an increasing number of people with mild symptoms who we need to assist in managing their needs at home. Having many people coming forward to ED and other health centres is likely to clog up the system fast. Finding ways to help with advice and practical help like food drops and other supplies, is likely to be a key part of the puzzle. And we may need this at a scale we haven’t yet got our head around.

The trajectory is changing

Be prepared. Take care out there of yourselves and each other. But not too close, eh?

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