What? No More Beach Walks Or Bear Hunts?
Two members of Tauranga’s science community are taking a stand today against heading to the beach or participating in the teddy bear game that residents have introduced into streets all over New Zealand.
“While it’s a wonderful idea to entertain children during the lockdown, it’s unfortunately also encouraging people to leave their bubble - their homes, and potentially putting their lives at risk,” says Rosalie Liddle Crawford, who comes from a career background lecturing in immunohaematology and medical microbiology.
“Our health system is facing unprecedented strain and we need to all pull together, and just basically stay home.”
Ecologist Charlotte Hardy, who lives near a Mount beach access, agrees.
“Droves of people are leaving their homes to walk down to the beach, at the Mount, Omanu, Papamoa, all along the coastal stretch as well as the walkways around Tauranga. Consider that many of the beach access points are narrow and don’t allow a 2m distance of separation.
“You and your family are walking inside a bubble, which can create difficulty if spread out along a path, for another person or group passing. The issue isn’t just one of leaving your home bubble, but too many people in one area is making it difficult to avoid without correct understanding and respect for social distancing.”
As New Zealand goes through its third day of lockdown, the number of international cases of coronavirus continues to grow - more than 560,000 cases globally, with 25,500 deaths.
There were 83 new confirmed cases announced today in NZ, bringing the total to 451. Two are in intensive care with one on a ventilator. That’s one more than yesterday.
“Italy has had more than 9100 people die from Covid-19, recording its highest daily jump in fatalities yesterday with 969 dead,” says Rosalie, “and an increase of 4401 coronavirus cases in the past day. It now has more than 86,000 cases.”
By April 6 in New Zealand, there are expected to be between 4000 and 5000 confirmed cases, based on the current infection rate, which has been consistent for the past 10 days.
“You may see cars out on the roads. Remember that while we do our part and stay home, health workers have gone to work during this unprecedented Level 4 emergency lockdown in New Zealand. They are at work to save our lives,” says Rosalie.
“Their workload has doubled and tripled over the last couple of weeks. Even pharmacy staff are putting in long and stressful shifts.”
Charlotte and Rosalie ask that as health workers put their lives on the frontline for us, that the Tauranga community in return do their best to stay at home.
“We’ve seen what’s happening in Italy, where coffins ran out and the military is used to transport corpses. None of us in NZ have ever dealt with anything of this scale in our lifetime.”
“There are currently 451 confirmed positive COVID19 cases in NZ. If each of these people had been in close contact and infected 10 people per day for a 10-day average incubation period, we will be looking at 45,100 potential infected cases. Fourteen per cent of these people will develop serious symptoms and need intensive care, that’ll be roughly 6300 people competing for the 200 plus ICU beds in NZ. This means that 9 out of 10 critically ill patients may die.”
Charlotte says that the Covid-19 pandemic is not like the Spanish flu.
“Spanish flu came from birds; COVID-19 is believed to have come from mammals.
“The two strains are acting like a regular virus that has just jumped into a human population for the first time. Epidemiologists’ (people that study disease patterns in human populations) biggest fears are that the public will not take the necessary precautions to stem the tide of the disease,” says Charlotte.
“We believe the trajectory of cases in New Zealand is following closely the trajectory seen in Italy a few weeks ago. It’s absolutely essential that the public take the necessary precautions to slow its spread, otherwise our health system will be overloaded,” says Rosalie.
They also advise the public to not believe everything that is shared on Facebook, Twitter or Whatsapp.
“Be careful of misinformation going around social media. Keep tuned into the NZ Government website – www.covid19.govt.nz and follow instructions.
“Staying at home is the key message we want to urgently stress with you. Only leave your property for essential trips like going to the doctor, vet, dentist and supermarket. Try and order groceries online and then pick up from a supermarket lock box or have them delivered. If you must go to the supermarket, send only one person from your household.
“Please stay home as much as possible and think of ways to create fun experiences for your children within your property. Stick to your local area. We need to pace ourselves. It’s going to be a long timeframe of isolation.
“We are also aware that incidences of domestic violence in overseas countries has risen during the COVID19 pandemic. Please contact Police if you or someone in your street is experiencing domestic violence. Also, crimes like theft and burglary could increase so report any suspicious activity. Be neighbourly.”
“Please, the lockdown is NOT a vacation. The reason for everyone to stay home in isolation, is to hope that we’d sieve out the potential 45,100 people (hopefully a lot less) and end the war with COVID19 ASAP!
“If everyone started treating the lockdown like a holiday, go to the beach, park, hike, or horse riding, it can further spread the infection and make it an unknown enemy which will haunt us all for who knows how long. And if anyone’s injured during their outing adventure, they’ll be at the end of a COVID queue and add even more stress to an overloaded health system.
“We ask our Tauranga community kindly, please be patient with your healthcare providers, stay at home for the sake of NZ and your own wellbeing, we do not know what awaits us out there tomorrow.”
Where victims of domestic violence can get help:
Women’s Refuge (For women and children) – 0800 733 843.
Shine (For men and women) – free call 0508-744-633 between 9am and 11pm.
1737, Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for mental health support from a trained counsellor
What’s Up – 0800 942 8787 (for 5–18 year olds). Phone counselling is available Monday to Friday, midday–11pm and weekends, 3pm–11pm. Online chat is available 7pm–10pm daily.
Kidsline – 0800 54 37 54 for people up to 18 years old. Open 24/7.
Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or find online chat and other support options here.