• Dr. Young Lee

F**k. COVID19 in Auckland - Moving to Level 3 for 3+ days

Sigh. I just knew that it was going to be a lousy day. I've just managed to kick myself in my L shin during taekwondo and I've got a tennis ball sized bruise now. Then I took a shower and my wife and daughter had used up all the hot water so it was a cold one in winter. Then the news came on that we have 4 COVID19 cases. F**k. Anyhow - bad news folks - 4 cases of community transmission in South Auckland in a family - with no idea where it came from. Chances are that it'll be due to quarantine workers i.e. hotel/airport staff. Statistically - an outbreak would have happened at some point. You can't have 300+ people flying in every week, with thousands of workers involved in quarantine procedures and not have 1 breach. Also - we failed to shoot the quarantine runners.  I know that everyone is a bit despondent. Probably a bit anxious. But hey - think about it this way. We've all practiced for a lock down by having a real lock down for 7 weeks. So - we are going to be super good tomorrow! :)

So a few friendly reminders:

Clinic stuff:

1. We are moving to primarily video and telephone consults again. The receptionist and I will be in at work at 7:30am tomorrow to go through the patient lists and ring everyone with appointments. 2. All well checks, skin checks, smears etc will now be postponed to a later date. 3. We can see people physically if required - but please be patient and let the nurse or receptionist triage the phone call.


We should all start wearing masks. Adopt a mask wearing culture and we will be protecting each other.  Here are a few tips for masks: 1. Any mask is fine. A simple cloth mask is fine, or get some surgical masks from the pharmacy. Mission bay pharmacy are selling 10 masks for NZD38.  2. You don't need N95 masks. These are designed to trap virus particles with static electricity in the fibers - but are very tight fitting.  3. If you are using surgical masks, dry them for 48 hours and reuse them. I advise that you have 3 masks per person per household - so that you can let it dry for 48 hours between uses. 

General stuff:

1. For goodness sake - don't stock up on toilet paper. If I hear that anyone has done that - you deserve a slap. Please slap yourself. 2. Supermarkets - please only go when you start to run out of food. The next 3 days will be full of crazy people rushing around. You really want to avoid crowds. Only 1 person per household please - and wear your mask. 3. Testing - because of a high increase in testing the next few days - please only go for testing if you have respiratory symptoms such as a cough, runny nose, loss of smell or shortness of breath. If you don't have any symptoms, please just stay at home. Watch the news for new testing stations that will be opening up near your place.

 I'm afraid you're going to see more of me like the picture above. We are all set up for phone and video consults. 

I'd like to offer my thoughts on what's going on, and the rationale that the government is taking.

Why are we going into Level 3 lock down?

This is to buy time for contact tracing and testing. There is no obvious transmission source of COVID19 so the lock down will reduce transmission over a period of 2-4 weeks. There are many countries that have dealt with a 2nd or 3rd wave without locking down completely. However - this dragged out the recovery phase. I think a full lock down is a good idea because once all cases are stamped out - we can open then economy up full bore again. This does mean that the Level 3 lock down will probably go on for 2-4 weeks though. So this is going to be a long one folks. 

What is testing going to look like?

The labs around New Zealand have been preparing for a second wave. My classmate tells me that they are ready for a surge - so expect people with symptoms to get tested first, probably in the order of 8000-9000 a day, and then all the contacts will get tested too. 

Many more testing locations will be opening up too. If there is a silver lining - we've practiced and done this - so this will be quite seamless. There is also enormous testing capacity per capita so we are very well prepared for this. 

Final words

Guys - this will be our reality for the next 2-5 years, depending on when an effective vaccine will come, or if the virus mutates into something less dangerous. The great Swedish experiment of letting people get sick is still kinda stupid. We could let COVID19 go through the population and get herd immunity - but the problem is that a whole bunch of people who don't die are going to have permanent lung, brain or organ damage. That's unpleasant and really shouldn't be seen as an option. Imagine living your life right now, but with 20% of your brain or lung damaged. Not a lot of fun. 

We could just lock everyone out of New Zealand and have a great time. However - this means that we are abandoning our humanity towards our fellow Kiwis, and we have to decide what kind of society we want to be. 

Lastly - I think this is the right move by the government. They do need to pass some emergency power laws that allows authorities to force people to get testing, wear a mask and get vaccinated.

After the country loses a few billion dollars in productivity, we'll get back to the swing of things again. See you guys on the other side! :)

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