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Dr Muriel Newman

COVID-19 – two weeks on

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With eight COVID-19 cases now reported in New Zealand and more expected, the Government is announcing stringent restrictions and new assistance measures.

This week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator, financial commentator Frank Newman shares his analysis of the situation:

“New Zealand is self-isolating and the policy measures announced last week are some of the world’s tightest border controls yet. In effect it places a wall around New Zealand that closes off international travel and shuts down our international tourism industry. These measures are intended to slow or halt the spread of the virus, but the economic consequences are significant.

“The issue most are now pondering is how long the financial contagion will last. That depends on how long the virus remains socially active, how long the government restrictions remain in place, and how effective government measures are in mitigating the economic effects of their controls.”

As Frank notes, the economy will recover, but there are tough times ahead. In the meantime, since keeping ourselves safe is a priority, let’s update what we now know about the virus. 

When we last reported on the new coronavirus on 1 March – eleven weeks after the first case had emerged on December 12 in the city of Wuhan in northern China – some 87,137 people had been infected in 58 countries, with 2,977 recorded deaths. Now, two weeks later, World Health Organisation data shows the infection, is spreading rapidly with 153,517 confirmed cases in 143 countries, and 5,735 deaths.

China, which has largely containing the disease, has an infection rate of 56.2 cases per million people. This compares to Italy, where it is out of control, with 463 cases per million people, Switzerland with 272, Norway with 244, Spain with 202, Iran with 178, and South Korea with 161.

The virus epidemic follows a bell curve. Phase one is where cases arise sporadically as people who have contracted the virus travel around and infect others. Phase two is community transmission, where the growth in the number of infected people outpaces the ability of the health system to contain the spread. And phase three is where the outbreak is finally brought under control.

Data on the Worldometer website shows the progress of the pandemic. The shape of the graphs provided for a selection of countries tells the story – their epidemic is only under control when their graph resembles a bell curve. Only China and South Korea can be seen to be getting on top of the problem. For Italy, Iran, Spain, France, the USA and the UK, there is a long way to go – click HERE to see the detail.

With most highly contagious diseases, the strategy used by governments to build community immunity (also known as ‘herd immunity’) is public vaccination programmes. Unfortunately, a vaccine for COVID-19 is still some months away. And while there have been some promising reports of success in treating very sick patients with cocktails of anti-viral medications, the successful containment of the disease relies on good management by health authorities, and sensible measures being undertaken by the public.

So, what have we learned about COVID-19 in the last couple of weeks?

For one thing, it seems to like colder temperatures more than warmer climates. New studies indicate that like the  two deadly coronaviruses SARS and MERS, as well as the viruses that cause influenza, COVID-19 seems less potent in warmer climates. While this could be helping New Zealand avoid the worst right now, it could signal a difficult winter lies ahead.

Secondly, while the good news is that studies are showing the virus is not airborne but is only spread by infected people, the bad news is that new research indicates up to 80 percent of infected people may be asymptomatic.

Since COVID-19 grows rapidly in the upper respiratory tract – nose, mouth, and throat – and sheds extremely efficiently through breathing, it now appears that viral shedding is the greatest during the first five days of infection, before most patients even realise they have caught the disease.

This has huge implications for the management of the infection. While those who are symptomatic and pass on the virus through the droplets they cough and sneeze are recognisable, those with no clinical symptoms can only be identified through tracking and testing the contacts of those who develop the symptoms.

That’s also why governments in many countries – including China, South Korea, Singapore and Japan – are distributing surgical face masks to residents to wear in public to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Professor David Hui, a respiratory expert at the University of Hong Kong explains it’s “common sense” that wearing a mask will protect against COVID-19. “The mask provides a barrier from respiratory droplets, which is predominantly how the virus spreads. Patients with COVID-19 often have mild or even no symptoms, and some researchers believe it can also be transmitted when patients are asymptomatic—meaning patients can be contagious and don’t know they’re sick.”

When it comes to children, while they are extremely vulnerable to the coronaviruses that cause colds and flu, they don’t seem susceptible to the more dangerous SARS, MERS, and COVID-19. Some studies indicate differences in the way the immune systems of the young and old respond to this virus may be the reason.

While most people who contact COVID-19 recover, in adults over the age of 60 and in those with underlying health conditions – especially diabetes, cancer, lung and heart disease, and hypertension – it can become life-threatening.

As well as infecting the lungs directly, the virus can trigger an excessive immune system response. Called a cytokine storm, the overproduction of immune cells floods the lungs, causing acute pneumonia and multi-organ failure. If doctors treating severe COVID-19 cases are able to diagnose and treat cytokine storm syndrome with commonly available remedies, the death rate from the virus can be reduced dramatically.

While a child’s immature immune system produces relatively low levels of cytokine, preventing the development of this dangerous syndrome, they are still able to spread the disease. That’s why an increasing number of countries are now closing schools and universities as they try to contain the virus.

One of the key recommendations to keep yourself safe involves ‘social distancing’ – maintaining sufficient distance between yourself and other people to stay out of the range of infection through coughing, sneezing or breathing. The recommended distance is now 2 to 3 metres.

That’s, of course, why large gathering are now being banned.

But as well as breathing in the virus, it can also be picked up through contact with infected surfaces. Research now shows that the exhaled COVID-19 virus, can remain viable for over a week, depending on the surface. For steel it’s up to 48 hours, glass and wood for four to five days, and for plastic, up to nine days.

Fortunately the virus can be destroyed by proper cleaning, as microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles, explains: “The things we’ll be looking at keeping clean are things that other people can cough and sneeze on, or that lots of people touch. In a shared workspace this will be things like door and fridge handles, handrails, lift buttons, and switches… If you are using a disinfectant make sure it says it is antiviral and follow the instructions. Often, we just end up using a cloth to wipe the microbes around rather than actually letting them sit and stew in the disinfectant first so that it can do its job. Surfaces will need about 10 seconds soaking with the disinfectant for it to work.”

The reason that cleaning agents are effective against the virus is due to their chemical makeup. COVID-19 is an “enveloped” virus, which means it has a protective lipid membrane – like a fat layer. Detergents and soaps, which are effective at breaking down fats, dissolve the protective layer of the virus and kill it.

In his article ‘How Soap Absolutely Annihilates the Coronavirus’, science reporter Brian Resnick explains the chemistry and enthusiastically writes, “When you wash your hands with soap and water, you’re actually annihilating the viruses, rendering them harmless. This makes me excited to wash my hand more. As I’m washing with soap and water and counting to 20, I’m going to imagine a battle being waged on the nano-scale in the teeny-tiny folds of my skin. The soap is charging in, sticking to viruses, and tearing them apart in brutal, heroic fashion. It’s almost like the Avengers, but better. Because it’s real. And it can help stop the spread of this outbreak.”

Thorough hand washing – see HERE for how it should be done – helped defeat the deadly Ebola disease in Africa. It involves giving soap 20 seconds to destroy the virus – enough time to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice!

With countries around the world now struggling to contain COVID-19, insights can be gleaned from the success of China.

Since they have experienced deadly virus outbreaks in the past – namely the H5N1 bird flu, which killed 50 percent of those infected, and SARS, which killed one in ten – the country was better prepared than most for a viral outbreak.

Essentially their goal was to interrupt the transmission chains in humans, through early identification, early isolation, early diagnosis and early treatment. 

The identification of suspect cases using temperature screening and questioning was crucial to containment efforts. This involved setting up thousands of health and quarantine stations in train and bus terminals, airports, and at the entrances to many institutions, community facilities, and hospitals. 

All suspect cases were tested, with results returned the same day. Patients found to be positive were transported to designated hospitals, where they were cared for by specially trained staff wearing full protective clothing.

All close contacts were rigorously tracked, tested, and quarantined.

Temporary hospitals were set up using facilities like gymnasiums and exhibition centres to dramatically increase bed capacity for mild patients.

Severe and critical patients were treated in special medical centres, with expert groups available for consultation, in order to minimise mortality.

Patients were not allowed visitors, and were only discharged after two tests taken 24 hours apart come back negative. Once they returned home they were initially asked to minimise family and social contact, and to wear a mask as it is thought that newly recovered patients may still carry the virus.

Looking ahead, a few things seem clear.

Firstly, in spite of public officials saying that face masks don’t help to protect people from the virus, they clearly do since that’s what medical staff use. The problem appears to be one of ‘supply’. Perhaps, just as the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is urging British companies to join a “national effort” to produce more ventilators and other medical equipment “at speed” to help the deal with the virus outbreak, New Zealand companies could be urged to help produce face masks for Kiwis.

Secondly, while our Prime Minister has announced a range of containment measures, an important question for the Government is whether our already over-stretched health services will be able to cope with a COVID-19 outbreak?

The reality is that since the government removed targets for specialist appointments and elective procedures, hospital waiting lists have blown out. With tens of thousands of people waiting for treatment, and hospital emergency departments already full to overflowing, it appears that an influx of highly contagious and very sick COVID-19 patients is a disaster waiting to happen.

In the UK, the government is expanding health system capacity by securing private hospital beds as a reserve. Perhaps that’s something our government could do.

The UK will also start distributing 10-minute self-testing kits around the country next week. Given the difficulty New Zealanders who fear they’ve been infected with the virus are having getting tested, maybe this is something else our government could do.

Furthermore, with winter’s influenza vaccine usually available in April, the government should make it freely available to all New Zealanders, to help keep our population as healthy as possible to deal with COVID-19.

Finally, since keeping ourselves safe is largely our own responsibility, singing happy birthday twice while we vigorously wash our hands, may not be quite as crazy as it sounds!


*Do you believe New Zealand’s health service could cope with a widespread outbreak of COVID-19?

*Poll comments are posted below.


*All NZCPR poll results can be seen in the Archive.


Click to view x 120


If the actual experience of our friend who undertook a full test is anything to go by, absolutely Not. Not prepared by way of examination space, Not prepared by way of reduced exposure to materials at the test place that could maintain a infectious presence. Not prepared by way of understanding and efficient routine of testing (taking 3-1/2 hours to do one patient. Not prepared with correct and cost effective equipment of adequate type (one only disposable test uniform) Not prepared for infectious access into waiting room, reception, nursing station. In short negligently hopeless. Training, Understanding, correct equipment, efficient methods, all required. All true, Authorities informed directly by the patient. Patient Negative. Richard
Too slow, as we see on world news and as was repeated many times by WHO TEST – Test – TEST Have we NO now you can see it is too late. !! Ross
It was already failing miserably. This will just add further misery to this status. Craig
our health system is over loaded in administration/bureaucracy. Like councils the DHB’s need to be drastically cu back. Sadly an entrenched non-essential bureaucracy sucks up tax payer money that is not used for health essentials. The lack of leadership in NZ to put the health and citizens and country first is lacking. Sam
Whilst I believe that our Health Services would cope with the virus COVID-19 if it becomes a epidemic that follows international pandemic trends, it will only be at the expense of other services. For this reason I have voted <NO>. Whilst I cannot fully understand the panic that is pervading a great number of our citizens (very apparent in our supermarkets having difficulty in maintaining stocks of meat, disinfectants, toilet paper, soft drinks and bread to name but a few items) I do not believe panic is the response we need. Sensible precautions (the medical advice already given and publicised seems a good starting point) and and the application of a good dose of commonsense is what the nation needs Michael
It is a cop out of a very difficult problem Frank
Jcinderella,s govt has been a total failure in their pathetic measures to protect Nz’ers. The borders should have been closed To ALL non NZ travellers weeks ago and NZ,ers returning home should have been put into controlled isolation where they entered the country rather than being allowed to travel and spread the virus as has happened. Just another failure of this useless coalition, but one which will cost lives!! malc
David Clark is a hopeless Minister, as is the head-bobbing PM. Bring back disposal plastic bags to decrease the various viruses generated by re-useable supermarket bags. Monica
Sadly no.There’s already a shortage of doctors – hopefully ‘retired’ doctors will be ready to help out if/when trouble strikes, but maybe they are already ‘running for the hills!’ Fiona
This Govt hasn’t woken up yet. How much money is advocated for the health services . Not enough by far John
Sadly NO Andrew
Not a chance in Hades of coping — John
The Chinese have proved that high dose intravenous vitamin C is very effective at treating COVID-19 and all other virus. For proof see Orthomolecular Medicine News Service. Ronmac
HB hospital code red normal winters Rae
Insufficient nursing staff and containment areas. Merv
Not enough intensive care beds in Tauranga or Whakatane, I was in both hospital’s ICU’s last month! George
I have no trust in this bloated and inefficient ‘health system in the case of a serious outbreak. And these glove puppets in the Govt ( lead by the glove puppet princess) haven’t got a bloody clue how to function under real STRESS. One thing they understand: never let a crisis go to waste—esp given is a chance to borrow to the hilt , throw the bulk of the money at beneficiaries ( as if they had not enough money already) to buy votes in the upcoming elections. These socialists and liberals do not know any better. Michael
We are short on doctors and nurses and funding restrictions are far too tight for normal services pre any Covid 19. $500,000 allocated yesterday is a joke and frankly is less than petty cash in terms of health operating expenses John
Most hospitals are at total capacity now so how are they going to deal with an influx of very ill people? Paloma
Better than most Jim
It never has in the past so what makes it a reality now Warren
Not with this coalition Government they couldn’t. Caleb
The system is not geared for this sort of problem. Brian
It cannot cop ex with the pressures on it now, see the waiting lists! Hugh
Of course not. No hospital system in the world is not geared up to cope with such a crisis. However our health system have an action plan put in place to cover the anticipated eventuality. Dennis
The service is overloaded and not coping now a widespread outbreak will cripple it and ultimately there will be deaths. Services are doing all they can but are understaffed and overloaded now. Laurel
Hospital staff for too long have been overworked and underpaid, the system will not cope. But no doubt they will do their best. Anita
It cannot even cope with usual day-to-day demands Catherine
Not in its’ present state, thanks to the depredations of the buck toothed wrecking ball and her hapless minions, post 2017. Scott
Zero chance. Dave
No country seems to be able to cope with the virus at it’s peak. george
Hunker down Folks it’s an Influenza and nothing can stop that !! Geoff
They don’t cope at the best of times let alone in a crisis Russ
It can’t even cope with everyday problems and elective surgery. Mark
Stretched, multi-run (too many Health-Hospital admin Boards) thus no cohesion of thought knowledge or planning. This equals accumulated deficits, and there is no magic solution. However, NZers always cope and to the best of their abilities….but this is the big one, and common sense must prevail. Interesting to note all the current Positive tests relate to incomers to NZ. Stay and away and let us get on with our lives? Mabel
Not without very drastic measures or a vaccine. More people must be forced into and taught how to self isolate. Graeme
We would manage Colin
Not at all. We have such an under funded health system. Too much taxpayer money wasted on unproductive people Laurie
No Under Staffed and under subsided….. Carl
NZ can’t even cope with flu every year, let alone covid – 19. Geoff
I don’t believe the authorities are telling us the truth in many areas, why should this be any different? Roy
I believe the health system would cope if they had more staff and up to date equipment, the staff they have is great but burning out . Barbara
Widespread no. Controlled Yes. Doug
I know from personal that the health service cannot cope with its present problems ,how the hell could it possibly cope with this outbreak. Not possible Tom
Very unlikely. The way this country is being “Managed” by ardern and her followers has little or no chance of dealing with such an event. The health system just could not cope with such an overwhelming demand should an outbreak occur. Hopefully this will not happen. Not difficult to imagine how the politicians “Managing” the country would handle it, ardern running to comrade clark for HELP ! David
A simmering next of vipers we have no idea how we’ll deal with it and long it will last Sheryl
Health system can’t cope with the routine patient numbers now without the extra burden of Covid-19 Sheryl
its broken with management muppets Greg
They could barely cope before the Coronavirus outbreak. Chris
Can’t cope at the moment with other things Andrew
Because of the continual anti American rhetoric continuously spewed out by the left wing in NZ, we have been assured a place at the end of the cue when the vaccinations being developed in the USA are distributed around the world. Rex
How many houses did they PROMISE? Clearly the clowns would flounder as ever. The pragmatic economically justifiable solution is let it run riot and accept the inevitable fatalities. You cannot fight nature. The increased penetrating cosmic rays will generate a lot more mutations and pandemic viruses; the true solution is robust immune systems and evolution, let survival of the fittest; nature’s fundamental evolutionary tool, have it’s say. This virus is just a precursor of many more. zoran
“if you cannot afford to feed you should not breed. ” They said that on Poldark and it really is a succinct observation. regrettably the feckless and stupid are most likely to produce abundant abused unloved impoverished children if only to prove their fecundity as if it is praiseworthy. Not helped by a PM (Albeit never voted in) who has children outside wedlock. Doubtless vies with Madonna’s influence to destroy families under Agenda21 policy for which she is a major exponent puppet. zoran
We have world class Doctors and Specialists backed up by first class nursing staff. If you could ever get an appointment and a referral and get into the “system” you would have every chance of surviving a major illness. No way could they cope with a widespread outbreak of COVID-19. Bruce
NZ’s Health services are having trouble managing day today requirements without the influx of a new emergency of Covid-19. NZ’s govt [Labour/Coalition] is asleep at the wheel, distracted by trying to stay in power, by buying votes. They haven’t a clue what else should be done. but ring their hands and make promises they cant keep with money they’ve stolen. Ced
Our medical facilities and staff are barely able to cope with the people turning up at A&E wards now so how are they going to cope with a pandemic? Rayward
There’s too much mis-information available. June
It depends on how you define “widespread”. All non-essential treatments could be delayed while medical staff concentrate on the bigger threat. Philip
they are prepared, just like they were in the CHCH EQ’s and the shoot up on Fortnite-aka Mosque shootings Wayne
The hospitals are over-stretched already with ever-increasing length of waiting lists. A positive response could be for the government via DHB’s to rent beds in private hospital facilities. Laurence
No. They do not in reality cope with the normal day to day health needs of the population. Any additional pressure would see the health service buckle. Gary
Would be stretched Norman
Health services are on full stretch across the country now Jeff
No. Health service has been allowed to run down for years, every hospital is at near capacity now all the time Murray
The DHB does not have sufficient financial support from the Govt to handle a real outbreak. IAN
Self Isolation becomes a joke when a traveller returns to NZ and self isolates in a flat of four people and the other three continue to go to work . My son tells me is happening at his workplace . Colleen
A widespread outbreak could affect 3 million people so our health system would be overwhelmed. Best advice is: keep a distance from people, do not smoke and limit or stop alcohol consumption. Alcohol is known to suppress the antibody response in humans. In times of viral outbreak we all need the highest level of immunity that we can achieve. Keep well, fit, eat sensibly. Peter
Our health system is broken and over taxed. I believe the blind allegiance of the New Zealand Govt to the UN, and the indiscriminate immigration, against the wishes of the majority of NZers, is the casual factor. So no, we won’t be able to cope. Is the health service serious in thinking that a few isolation beds are going to cope with escalation? Neil
Great article. However, I don’t believe China’s infection/death rates. I’d bet money that their rates are higher than even Italy. Maria
No way could they cope the health system is choked now full to overflowing Peter
We tend to follow rather than being innovative Harvey
I have ticked No but am more a `probably not’ than a definite no because my personal experiences with NZ health services have always been good. pdm
With thousands of people already being pushed aside and waiting, sometimes for years to be treated .. how in he’ll could our pathetic system cope with covid 19. Des
They cant cope with the NZ public now. Waikato DHB said I am booked in for Urgent Stents. Then they told me Urgent means in 6 months time. clive
I feel we are ill-prepared as money has been spent on other non essentials like vote buying up north and getting as many lazy able bodies onto the dole as possible in the last two years. Graeme
Before this international turmoil the hospitals and staffing levels were stretched to beyond their limit while the govt touted their “surpluses”. They need to honestly provide top care and make plans now to extend their ICUs, order huge numbers of ventilators and actually do steps now to prepare. Expect the best, prepare for the worst. Kate
No way, and this is the issue worldwide. David
With New Zealands health system already unable to provide basic services to us under normal circumstances, it most certainly will not cope with any sort of extra disease load. It’s almost impossible to get specialist appointments in the Public System and a 4 month wait in the private system, I’d say if you get Covid 19 your dead. It takes 5 weeks to get a Doctors appointment where we live, so God help us and I am suspicious that God doesn’t exist anyway, so I’m not very optimistic. Best of luck folks and the tooth fairy has no idea what to do and is standing there posturing and making noises that the collective deems to be the most popular and expected noises, but be sure that their are no systems in place to follow up the words. Dianna
We all know we are essentially third world status health care in New Zealand. We waste so much on social welfare righting the injustice of wealth from hard work that there isn’t enough left for health decent infrastructure and education. And Labour are the worst at it. Mike
Hospitals already understaffed so any added illnesses can only add to the existing problem. Alan
NO!!! Maybe, if the red tape was cut leaving common sense free to prevail. What government institution would want that!?!? Don
Of course not – when the virus gets hold here it will overwhelm the intensive care facilities – especially respiratory- that are available hylton
No health system anywhere in the world is designed to provide the number of ICU beds, technology or trained staff needed to treat a massive scaling of the cases needing their care. John
Insufficient reserve resources available – no real “surge” capability. patrick
It would require a complete re-prioritising of hospital facilities, relegating all elective surgery and non-urgent or non-life threatening cases to a waiting list. Alan
Just hope it does not overwhelm the system. Tim
I’m trying to be positive but my instinct tells me we are in for a health shock like nothing we’ve ever seen before. Robert
You saw how main center Hospitals were stretched to the limit with White Island injuries, so how are the smaller ones going to cope if there is also an outbreak in a less populated area? We do not have the resources… Robyn
totally inadequate Barry
Handouts only make things worse Chris
The present health system could not cope with a widespread outbreak of Covid-19. It has enough problems with present long waiting lists. It just would not have the beds. Frank
Can’t imagine our facilities being able to cope. Maddi
No – it will be chaos! Kat
Over spending by many DHB’s on non essentials, over the years, has left them nothing but an under supply of money for REAL medicines/equipment. Graeme
Not a cat in hells chance! For example … Feb 2019 I visit an eye clinic for glaucoma check. “See you again in 6 months – we will make an appointment for you.” Dec 2019 – thinks – “what happened to that appointment?” Write to clinic … Late Jan 2020 – appointment made … MORE THAN 6 MONTHS LATE. Fortunately I haven’t gone blind in the meantime! Ron
If you are a commist state Brian
My cousin has just had a hip operation, the staff were so FEW the ones left were run off their feet as they had to cover 12 rooms with 4 beds in each room, we have NOT looked after hospital staff NOW no-one wants to work there & be either attacked or run off their feet as there,s hardly any staff.So jacinda & team the answer is NO WE HAVE A RUN DOWN HOSPITAL SYSTEM & instead of helping the staff there YOU ARE BRIBING people & children with school lunches,HUGE BENEFITS (for people TOO LAZY to work) WAKE UP PEOPLE jacinda is making you MORE DEPENDANT on the govt. than EVER BEFORE Cindy
I understand that the masks only work for two minutes. cyril
My concern is that our communist led PM and Government seems to capitalize on these events to undemocratically ram through externally constructed (U.N. agenda) policy and law that supports population control measures that will firm their desire for global governance. Bruce C
the biggest problem is panic when you look at the figures the flue is no different to other years so what is the motive behind all this govt are certainly recking economy’s for no reason that is apparent. Russell
I hope so but probably not Gerry
No, probably not. But then is this a panic created by the media? Jenny
Have been waiting for “urgent” cardio assessment for weeks, months on two hospital wait lists. Enough said. Martin
No health service in then world can cope with a wide level of outbreak. Preventive measure are the most proactive way and this government is effecting those. Yes there is a cost but not as large a cost as that whcih would occur if delays are realised. eg Italy, UK, USA etc. China and Singapore in fact acted judiciously and quickly. Greg
With our help – YES Local Councils also need to take head of this email so they take a lead in preparing for an influx of patients. I have sent the message to our Mayor and suggested he get his team on the page and ready. Plus stop all projects that are non essential costs, to save increasing our rates when times get tough. RICHard
As N Z’s health services are grossly overloaded/underfunded/understaffed/politically motivated/politically managed, there is little hope adequate/increased funding would produce service levels to cope with a widespread outbreak the expected colder winter period this virus ‘enjoys’!! Stuart
The system struggles with a standard flu season so won’t be any worse with this one, most people will recover at home, people have been warning of massive death rate from virus infection for years, this is not the one that is going to do it, take a deep breath and relax people. John
Hospitals can’t cope now and waiting times to see Specialists are too long. Patients could die or their illness exacerbate during the delay in seeing a consultant so I don’t see how they will be able to deal with a major outbreak of Covid-19 this winter. Mary
The system is so highly politicised that it is hardly capable of operating efficiently under normal – non epidemic – conditions. TOBY
Palmerston North hospital has been in crisis for ages already Ian
I’m not sure that any country could cope, look at Italy as an example John
with all the money given by both national and labour to the hand out greedy brown b*****ds which if had been put into our health system then yes it would cope but the way it is now there is no hope in hell it will cope. Richard
just the same as they failed with Varoa mites, the kiwifruit contagion and mico plasma bovis. chris
Somehow I doubt that any health system could cope with a massive outbreak. We would not tolerate a Chinese style crack down, one that only can be achieved in a totalitarian country , but with the socialization of our health system I doubt the bureaucrats would be able to cope. Lets hope and pray that the measures taken so far have the desired effect of slowing the pandemic down enough for our health system to cope Robin
There is already a shortage of health service staff and beds. We couldn’t upgrade quickly enough to cope. Graham
We would have our medical services overwhelmed in a widespread outbreak Kevin
Having having spent 9 days in hospital this year I saw the inner workings of a dedicated understaffed hospitals and too many patients to cope with – every day – every moment!! People being pushed back and back for surgery – I do not know how they will cope – Lois 
NO…..NO…..NO……Mission IMPOSSIBLE… ChrisH
Not a chance! James
The health system is hopelessly bogged down as it stands. An outbreak of a contagious infection would be a disaster. Gordon
I have no faith at all in Jacinda Ardern to actually deliver good health services. She’s all talk and show. Ian
The country has been mismanaged by Labour. They should be focussing on boosting up the health system so it is in a position to cope with a virus epidemic if it eventuates. Mary
Health is in a far worse position now than it was under National. Let’s hope the virus pandemic misses NZ! Larry