Without a doubt, you and I are over Covid. We are sick of talking about it, hearing "experts" give their opinion on it and having it cop the blame for everything that's wrong.
This is generously facilitated by the media who continue to update us with the daily case numbers, deaths and patients in intensive care. We are affected by the numbers, however, we strive for the light at the end of the tunnel. This Covid hangover is not going away until we all find something else, besides the Ukraine war and Covid, to use as a scapegoat.
People's mental health is suffering and they are taking out their frustrations on themselves, each other, society and of course the Labour Government whose popularity is declining.
I am confident that next year Dr Ashley Bloomfield will be on the Queen's Honours List for basically doing his job. Without a doubt the first few months of 2020 were alarming, we were uncertain, we needed a hero and that is what he became. However, once we removed our rose-tinted glasses we saw the flaws in the way he blocked RATs and saliva testing last year, plus his inability to want to share patient data for vaccination purposes. And indeed, chose lower population numbers upon which to base vaccination success outcomes.
What Covid brought to all of us was heightened forms of anxiety and being kept on tenterhooks by all of these so-called experts who can't wait to give their opinion. But on what? They are not telling us anything we don't know any more. We are literate, well connected and can compare global best practice. In other words, we are not all stupid.
We don't need to hear about Covid any more because we are over it, literally. The problem has been solved. We now know the health system will not buckle and break this winter. We have five more weeks of winter left, then we're into spring on September 1. We have seven weeks until September 22 which is daylight saving. Bring it on! The logjam of two-and-a-half years in bubble wrap meant we should be swamped.
There is no doubt that flu season in this country, like other countries, is cyclical with the rise and fall of winter. We now know our Covid-positive numbers are tanking and that is due to a couple of reasons. It could be that we are just not playing the game by uploading our test results because of Covid fatigue. And the requirement of ICU beds is the first determinant of any litmus test that the health system is working. Not only is it working, it can cater to increases. Plus, we are a highly vaccinated country. So, all measures on all algorithms show that the great nation of Aotearoa has overcome Covid.
What I want to know is why we are lagging behind our Australian neighbours who are moving on with life and in many cases if you test positive it's business as usual. Our Prime Minister has received terrible advice from her senior public service all the way through this pandemic. What it goes to show you is how bad the gulf is between politicians setting a policy and bureaucrats, willingly or otherwise, executing it.
The next question is, are there any other variants as virulent as Covid-19 when it first arrived? The answer to that question is, no. What I find more frustrating is what we don't know. Of the death rates, we don't know how many of them were unvaccinated. And we don't know how many people who died with Covid actually died of Covid. These are very
important numbers the system does not want us to know. Being more transparent will loosen the control officials have over the narrative. The same narrative that has us worried and anxious.
Covid has run its course. Here at Te Whānau o Waipareira we will welcome back those who were forced out by vaccination mandates. We understand why those mandates were applied at the time, but our doors are open to those staff when there are job opportunities available. This is part of building bridges back to the parts of the community that were deeply affected, more so than others.
As a rule, we Kiwis have always had a great belief in our system, and we can't any more. We are waking up to a lot of what is really going on, like the price gouging in the building and grocery sectors. What we all need and want is some absolute clarity to assist us with our current mindsets and give us back some faith in our system of leadership and accountability.
John Tamihere is a former Labour Cabinet minister and chief executive of Whānau Ora and West Auckland Urban Māori organisation Te Whānau o Waipareira.