Week 3 of the Lock Down - Updates!
How's everyone coping? I think the best attitude at the moment - is to treat this whole strange period in our lives like a partial holiday. Lots of time to think, reconnect and cook. I've spoken more to my family in the last 2 weeks then we have for months! I've also been catching up with my medical school classmates which has been pretty awesome. I though it would be good to go through some updates, and also some topical issues.
Flu jab procedure
We will be giving flu jabs to people in the car. When you arrive, please give reception a ring and we will come to you. Think about it like a drive through - except you get jabbed in the arm. You have to wait 5 minutes and then feel free to leave if you're fine. This is a new procedure just for this year. Next year - we might return to the 20 mins wait time.
It's not just COVID19 making us sick! Let us know about your medical problems
A lot of people are unsure about what to do if they have medical issues in this environment. We are open, so make use of us. If you are not sure you need to be seen - either by video, phone or in person - ring us or email us to check. We will be able to guide you.
Useful things to have to help us with virtual consults
1. Blood pressure cuff I recommend an inexpensive OMRON arm band one - usually available for about $90 - $100 at the pharmacy. It's well designed and the cuff can be applied by yourself. The best way to check your blood pressure is to check it in the evening, maybe after dinner. Then check it 3 times and pick the lowest number. The reason is that the BP is often highest when you first check it as you're not used to the tightening of the mechanism.
2. Thermometer If you don't have one, don't worry too much. Most people can tell us if they've felt feverish. 3. Weighing scale Useful to see if you've lost too much weight, etc if you're unwell.
COVID19 related updates:
Should I wear a mask when I go to the supermarket or pharmacy?
This advice is being revised by the WHO. It would appear that countries where mask wearing is the norm have lower rates of community transmission. This might be that when people wear masks they automatically behave in a more social distancing kind of way. My suggestion is: - WEAR masks when you go somewhere with more people - i.e. supermarkets, pharmacies - DON'T WEAR masks if you're out walking, cycling etc. The purpose of the mask is to mostly stop your droplets going to other people. So if everyone wears a mask in a more public setting, then the rate of transmission might drop - not so much because you stop yourself from catching it - but because everyone stops giving their droplets to everyone else.
Supermarkets and essential services - priority access
Countdown has the essential worker hour from 8am to 9am. Pak N Sav and New World will give priority access to bypass queues to essential workers. If you qualify for this - please bring ID or a letter from your employer. I had to write a letter for myself, from myself with my name. I felt stupid. The lady at Countdown looked a bit suspiciously at me. If you have the priority access - please use it with a clear conscience. The best advice I got was from the clinical head at one of the rest homes. She said to me that if you're working 30-40 hours a week you don't have the same amount of time to line up.
COVID19 numbers. How is NZ doing?
As you can see from the cumulative numbers, there is still a slow linear increase in case numbers. However, as mentioned before, it's far more interesting and useful to look at new cases per day. There is a flattening of new case numbers, which is exactly what we would expect.
If a lock down was not instituted, there would have been a doubling of new cases every 3 days or so. It is predicted that there would have been 4000 infected people rather than 1000 that we have now. So this is pretty good. However, there hasn't been a continued decline in cases. This is partially due to contact tracing and more tests being done. That means that we are looking for the new cases so we are finding them.
One good metric to look at is the number of positive tests that we are getting. We are currently testing ~ 3000 tests a day, of which only about 0.7% are positive. This is very good - any number below 1% would suggest that we are going to head towards a downward trajectory of new cases. So we are winning people.
How long will the lock down go on for?
As I've mentioned previously, unless we have no community transmission, the lock down has to continue. It would be very likely that the lock down will continue until we have zero cases of community transmission for several days. This will exclude the 20,000 Kiwis that might want to come back - as some of them will certainly have the infection. Once all community spread is stamped out - NZ will need to have an amazingly robust quarantine system for all the returning Kiwis. If not - the lock down might go on for months to years until a vaccine is found.
Best case scenario - in 2-6 weeks, there is no community transmission. NZ learns how to survive economically mostly through domestic spending. All returning Kiwis are quarantined for 2 weeks and there is constant surveillance of all of them.
The lock down will likely be longer than the 4 weeks that was stated. Prepare for 8 weeks, and anything sooner is a bonus.