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The strategy is to eliminate Covid and protect lives

 

As people return to offices, so do traffic delays (File Picture)

As I wrote this article, Auckland shifted down to Level 2 after about three weeks of significant restrictions at Level 3.

The recurrence of Covid-19 in the community has been very challenging for people, but overwhelmingly the response has been very encouraging as people have rallied themselves again to take collective action, and stamp out a Virus that threatens the health and lives of our fellow New Zealanders.

Over the course of Level 3,  I have been reflecting on why it is that New Zealand has done so well in the battle against Covid-19 in comparison to most other countries.

Human beings come first

Clearly, the government’s strategy of eliminating the Virus by going hard and early has been important. So too has been the decisive leadership and clear communication of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. But most important I believe has been the ‘team of five million’ approach – a belief that we are all in this together.

Critically, this approach is founded on the principle of service to others.

It means that even though many of us as individuals may not be especially vulnerable to the Virus, that we have made the sacrifices and followed the guidelines in order to serve and protect other people in our community.

This is really the best of human nature, and is the polar opposite of the “herd immunity” approach advocated by a vocal minority, which would see us sacrifice the lives of the elderly and unwell to minimise any impact on our own lives.

I am pleased that we have taken an approach which prioritises the value of human life.

Samaritans in the community

During the challenges of Level 3 and 4 restrictions I have also observed this concept of service to others in the way that many people and organisations have reached out to help others.

Food parcels have been organised for people who are struggling, neighbours have reached out to check on one another, and communities have rallied around small businesses who have been doing it tough. As a government, we have been working hard to provide as much support to people as possible through measures such as the Wage Subsidy Extension, Small Business Loans, and Covid Relief Payments, but it takes all of us working together to get through a challenging situation like this one.

I want to especially acknowledge the New Zealand Indian community for their service to the community at this time. Time and again I have seen groups within the community mobilise to provide support and meet the welfare needs of people in need. I thank and salute every group who has provided this service.

Together we have made good progress. Through our shared work we have saved many lives in New Zealand, and our very strong testing and contact tracing system is currently doing a great job of isolating cases from the recent recurrence.

Simple precautions

As we move into Level 2, it is very important that we do not let our guard down.

Covid remains a very tricky Virus and further cases are possible. We can all minimise the chances of this happening by following the rules. In particular (a) While we can leave home now, use common sense and limit unnecessary movement (b) Consider working from home if you are able to do so (c) If you are going out, you are strongly encouraged to wear a mask. It is a requirement to wear a mask on public transport or on a place (d) Maintain physical distancing of two metres. If you have to be in closer contact, ensure that you wear a mask (e) If you are unwell, you must stay at home.(f) If you have any symptoms or have been in contact with any known cases of Covid, get a test taken as soon as possible.

Remaining restrictions

In Auckland, you cannot attend gatherings of more than 10 people (or 50 for funerals and tangihanga). Gatherings are restricted to 100 people across the rest of the country.

Full guidance is available at www.covid19.govt.nz

Thank you everyone for your work and sacrifices so far.

By working together, following the rules, and caring for others in our community in a spirit of service, we can and will get through.

Michael Wood is Member of Parliament elected from Mt Roskill and Senior Government Whip.

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