New Zealand needs to step up the management of our response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which at times has verged on moronic.
Our bureaucrats and defence personnel have done a "so-so" job to step up the protections around our hermit kingdom. But it is a long way short of best practice.
Yesterday, Sir David Skegg — a renowned preventive medicine professor from Dunedin — said there was a high chance the country could go back up into level 2. This is off the back of warnings that transmission of the Covid-19 virus through the community remains a high risk.
It is also a risk at the border, where obviously the Kiwis returning to New Zealand must enter.
So too, for the Customs workers, hotel staff, bus drivers and others who must shepherd the returnees to their isolation hotels and look after them.
We've also had warnings from the Ministry of Health boss Dr Ashley Bloomfield to stock up on masks and learn how to apply them. Something he did not think necessary back in the early days of the pandemic when his then advice was, in my view, woefully ill-informed and frankly quite ignorant.
Then there is Health Minister Chris Hipkins, offering even more warnings that we have to be prepared to potentially move back from level 1 to level 2 in the event of a virus flare-up.
Why are these scare tactics occurring now? And not earlier?
The politicians kick off their election campaigns in earnest today.
The outgoing Government is issuing warnings aplenty.
But what have they really done to avert another flare-up — seriously?
Where is the investment in New Zealand's version of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that the US has? The CDC has been pushed to one side by the US President during this crisis. But irrespective of Donald Trump's blundering, the institution lives and will come into play again in the future.
China also has an equivalent institution whose boss warned months ago that mask use was mandatory to protect citizens from virus transmission in pandemic times.
But even when those warnings were issued, the Ministry of Health — and Bloomfield — downplayed their efficacy. Frankly, this is more than dumb.
Earlier this week I interviewed former Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Prime Minister Sir John Key.
Both were of the view that New Zealand needed to invest in world-class border facilities, not only to quarantine returning Kiwis but also to allow New Zealand companies (at their cost) to bring in critical personnel across the border. Then quarantine them professionally so that business operations could be underpinned here. There are many businesses that are facing having to cut even more jobs if this does not occur.
Both Clark and Key were adamant that New Zealand needed to take measures to protect the export education sector and to a lesser extent tourism in the long-term interests of the New Zealand economy.
Clark also supported the need for an inquiry into this country's preparedness for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
It would look at how New Zealand did deal with it and any lessons for handling future pandemics.
There have been other urgent suggestions, including from Rob Fyfe who is the prime minister's business liaison for the pandemic. These include investing in an operational hub in Wellington to deal with the pandemic, appropriate testing and tracing.
This has yet to occur.
Until this Government — or the one that is elected after September 19 — backs the warnings with full-on investment in what really matters, the country remains at risk.