• Dr. Young Lee

When will the lock down end?

Hi everyone! I hope everyone had a good Easter "break". I did try following the Sunday Catholic Liturgy on ShineTV - fell asleep on the couch, and so did my 2 kids. Best mass ever. Only 30 mins long too. Should do it this way every Sunday. Then I heated up 2 croissants and had my communion. Yum. I'd like to do some medical updates, discuss the trend lines of new cases and just do a general discussion about when the lock down might end and what different scenarios will look like. I hope you guys find this helpful. 

Driver's License renewals - for people over 75 and endorsements - extended by 6 months.

No one needs to come in to do their medicals for the next 6 months. Even if your driver's license or endorsement expire, you can still carry on driving legally.This applies to the warrant of fitness for your cars as well. 

Flu jabs for everyone.

We have some spare flu jabs now that all the vulnerable population who wanted theirs, have had it. We have started flu injections for everyone else now. Please contact us if you wish to have your flu jabs. 

Wet weather ahead! Prepare to literally be stuck at home.

Wet weather is predicted for the whole of the week. Prior to this, the weather has been fantastic and everyone has been able to go outside for some fresh air. This week will be a bit challenging as the weather is unpleasant and wet. This will mean most of us will be spending a lot of time indoors. I suggest making sure that you spend 30 mins everyday exercising in the house. Some people have been very creative with walking loops around the house. Another option is to follow the Les Mills home exercise routine on TV, or to follow HIIT (High intensity interval training) videos on youtube.  Whatever you do - please consider making 30 mins of exercise a regular thing even in bad weather.

COVID 19 - How are we doing?

There is a real flattening of the curve here, with a decrease in overall number of new cases. This is for a couple of reasons - they really are less cases and there is a lot less testing over the Easter weekend. We've dropped from a high of 3800 test a day to about 2000 on Saturday and then about 1000+ on Sunday. This is in line with expectations. The number of cases might rise again once there is more testing. All 5 deaths so far have been in older, immune compromised individuals. 

New Zealanders should be very happy with the numbers that we are seeing. This is very comforting and shows the lock down strategy working extremely well. It follows the numbers we see everywhere else that have done a lock down - with 2 weeks of increasing numbers then a drop off in new cases.

Where to from here?

This is a big problem - New Zealand can go for an eradication based strategy or a mitigation based strategy. The question is - is it even possible to have true eradication? Remember - 1 case in the Bluff wedding lead to 84 people being sick, one in hospital. So even a single person who is sick can cause a massive outbreak. 

If we go for an eradication strategy - the following will likely have to happen:

1. Zero community transmission cases for a few days at least

2. Random testing done in the healthy population to see how many people are asymptomatic - might require thousands, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands tests to get a statistically significant sample.

3. Super strict quarantine of all returning Kiwis 

Eradication is theoretically possible as we are an island nation, with only really 3 airports as points of entry. However to ensure zero community transmission is done, the lock down will have to be extended for quite a long period of time.

Mitigation is probably "easier" to do - but it will mean that as the lock down is relaxed, there will be a few spikes in cases every few days and certain areas will have to be locked down. 

One issue here is consumer confidence - even if lock down is lifted and we don't feel 95% safe, are we really going to go out and shop and mingle? I use 95% because 100% is never possible. Most of use have a risk/reward ratio that we are comfortable with - I'm using 95% because I think most people accept that means very, very safe without requiring undue restrictions. I think a mitigation strategy will mean consumer confidence will only be about 50-70% at the most, which means shops will still sit around 50% empty. I don't know if that's a great idea. Then we will have to start the lock down all over again as outbreaks occur.

PM Jacinda Adern has made it quite clear she does not want even a single case to come though. My prediction is level 4 lock down will be extended for 2 more weeks, and if we have zero community transmission cases - then we will have a relaxation of the lock down. The Singapore PM, Lee Hsien Loong said that democracies have to be aware of population fatigue when it comes to severe measures and the tolerance of the population. 

The difficulty here is maintaining physical distancing and level 4 lock down when there isn't a large bump in cases and deaths. We are all willing to comply when the danger is obvious and imminent. It's a bit harder to comply when everything looks rosy. However all you need is 1 case and we will have to start all over again.

Just for a bit of fun - please let me know what is the first thing you plan on doing when the lock down ends? I'm going for a buffet. :)

Please share this with your friends if you find this helpful and you think it might be helpful to them.

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