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What is the Covid-19 Exit Strategy of 'Zero Covid' countries such as Australia and New Zealand?

bramling

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They could make early retirement a lot easier - but that would cost money !

To be fair my place has been flooded with retirements over the last year, many of these being people who weren’t planning to go for a couple of further years. Obviously in their cases they were able to make the sums add up.

This is one reason why the industry is going to struggle to be able to return to early 2020 levels of services in the immediate future, were they to be needed. Look at today’s Met Line forced closure as an example.
 
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yorksrob

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To be fair my place has been flooded with retirements over the last year, many of these being people who weren’t planning to go for a couple of further years. Obviously in their cases they were able to make the sums add up.

This is one reason why the industry is going to struggle to be able to return to early 2020 levels of services in the immediate future, were they to be needed. Look at today’s Met Line forced closure as an example.

I'd gladly take retirement tomorrow, however I'm not even fifty yet !
 

yorksrob

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I don’t know, in all honesty there’s elements of my work I would miss.

I must admit, with office life, the irritations of work are balanced out by things such as the change of location and the social aspect. With wfh, you're left with the irritations.

I expect a lot of people are experiencing their work in a new light because of this.
 

edwin_m

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With a small number of exceptions, the postings on this thread strike me as a classic filter bubble.

Australia and New Zealand were fortunate in that they are relatively isolated so got few cases, but also went down "hard and early" with lockdown. The result is that most of the citizens can enjoy a normal life most of the time, very much unlike countries like the UK.

One exception is when a lockdown of a few days is imposed at short notice. In the UK we have lockdowns of a few months imposed at short notice. Which would anyone prefer?

The other main exception is international travel. But that applies to almost every country at present, so ANZ is no worse off. The countries have been able to visit each other at times, which is more than we can legally do in the UK, even to visit someone next door.

Now there are viable vaccines, ANZ has a route to herd immunity which doesn't involve thousands of deaths and the risk of hospitals being unable to treat people with other conditions. And for those who see that as inevitable and only affects old people, there are the likelihood that millions of UK citizens will suffer from the continuing symptoms of "long Covid". Once herd immunity is achieved, whether by vaccine or by infection, an infection can't turn into a widespread epidemic and there is enough hospital capacity to treat any cases that arise. Herd immunity by vaccination is quicker than the several years that would be needed to achieve it by infection, so it seems to me ANZ will be ready to accept international tourism just as soon as there are other countries where infection rates are low enough that people are allowed to travel.

You may ask about variants, but every country is vulnerable to a variant that escapes existing immunity whether derived from infection or vaccination. Hence every country has to be vigilant and prepared to offer a modified vaccine or in the very worst case go back to lockdown policies. For which you have the choice of the ANZ policy of quick but short lockdowns, or the UK policy of dithering followed by long lockdowns, which lead to far worse economic damage as well as more illness and death.
 

Bantamzen

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With a small number of exceptions, the postings on this thread strike me as a classic filter bubble.

Australia and New Zealand were fortunate in that they are relatively isolated so got few cases, but also went down "hard and early" with lockdown. The result is that most of the citizens can enjoy a normal life most of the time, very much unlike countries like the UK.

One exception is when a lockdown of a few days is imposed at short notice. In the UK we have lockdowns of a few months imposed at short notice. Which would anyone prefer?

The other main exception is international travel. But that applies to almost every country at present, so ANZ is no worse off. The countries have been able to visit each other at times, which is more than we can legally do in the UK, even to visit someone next door.

Now there are viable vaccines, ANZ has a route to herd immunity which doesn't involve thousands of deaths and the risk of hospitals being unable to treat people with other conditions. And for those who see that as inevitable and only affects old people, there are the likelihood that millions of UK citizens will suffer from the continuing symptoms of "long Covid". Once herd immunity is achieved, whether by vaccine or by infection, an infection can't turn into a widespread epidemic and there is enough hospital capacity to treat any cases that arise. Herd immunity by vaccination is quicker than the several years that would be needed to achieve it by infection, so it seems to me ANZ will be ready to accept international tourism just as soon as there are other countries where infection rates are low enough that people are allowed to travel.

You may ask about variants, but every country is vulnerable to a variant that escapes existing immunity whether derived from infection or vaccination. Hence every country has to be vigilant and prepared to offer a modified vaccine or in the very worst case go back to lockdown policies. For which you have the choice of the ANZ policy of quick but short lockdowns, or the UK policy of dithering followed by long lockdowns, which lead to far worse economic damage as well as more illness and death.
You say Australia & New Zealand are back to normal? You mean the kind of normal when a single case can see the lockdown of an entire city? That's nowhere near normal, and if you read through the various threads on the subject you'll see that many down under are far from happy with their on-off-on-off-on lockdown policies.
 

Bessie

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Edwin - you raise some very good points. I just think zero Covid policy followed by ANZ whilst successful at this time cannot work long term. We all need to establish a way of living with Covid and with the vaccinations roll out this should be possible. I can see New Zealand suffering long term as the tourism industry there will be unviable as Jacinta will stick with her 2 week quarantine policy for many years to come.
 

edwin_m

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You say Australia & New Zealand are back to normal? You mean the kind of normal when a single case can see the lockdown of an entire city? That's nowhere near normal, and if you read through the various threads on the subject you'll see that many down under are far from happy with their on-off-on-off-on lockdown policies.
I didn't say they were back to normal. But they are much nearer to normal than most other countries. I can understand if they aren't totally happy with that, but people in other countries are much worse off.
Edwin - you raise some very good points. I just think zero Covid policy followed by ANZ whilst successful at this time cannot work long term. We all need to establish a way of living with Covid and with the vaccinations roll out this should be possible. I can see New Zealand suffering long term as the tourism industry there will be unviable as Jacinta will stick with her 2 week quarantine policy for many years to come.
Vaccinations should indeed make it possible to live with Covid, and are likely to do so at least as quickly in ANZ where there are virtually no cases as in other countries where there are thousands every day. I agree it will be necessary for the authorities to open up to visitors, but I'd be far more confident in the Ardern government than the Johnson government doing the right thing at the right time.
 

philosopher

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You say Australia & New Zealand are back to normal? You mean the kind of normal when a single case can see the lockdown of an entire city? That's nowhere near normal, and if you read through the various threads on the subject you'll see that many down under are far from happy with their on-off-on-off-on lockdown policies.
To be fair, in New Zealand it generally seems to have worked, snap lockdowns have been rare there and I think they have just been in Auckland. In Australia not so much though and the fequent snap lockdowns must make any long term planning fraught with danger. If I were a Sydneysider who had booked a weekend break to Melbourne and had to cancel it at the last moment because Melbourne went into lockdown over a couple cases I would pretty annoyed.
 
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You say Australia & New Zealand are back to normal? You mean the kind of normal when a single case can see the lockdown of an entire city? That's nowhere near normal, and if you read through the various threads on the subject you'll see that many down under are far from happy with their on-off-on-off-on lockdown policies.
To be fair, in New Zealand it generally seems to have worked, snap lockdowns have been rare there and I think they have just been in Auckland. In Australia not so much though and the fequent snap lockdowns must make any long term planning fraught with danger. If I were a Sydneysider who had booked a weekend break to Melbourne and had to cancel it at the last moment because Melbourne went into lockdown over a couple cases I would pretty annoyed.

I have friends (both Kiwis) who recently moved back to New Zealand after about 15 years in London. Covid wasn't the reason- they had planned to do it around this time anyway as that was a good point in their son's schooling to make the move

Their day-to-day life is almost normal - they've bought a house, been on holiday, met family, they've both got work (Matt works in events so had little work in the UK since March), their son is in school, routine healthcare is operating, the list goes on. For them (and most of the people they know) life is pretty good and light years beyond what they left in the UK

They don't like the risk of snap restrictions but see it as a price worth paying for having a pretty much normal life for weeks at a time (this was their first alert level change since October)

The recent snap lockdown in Auckland was for only one case but that person had moved around quite a bit between leaving quarantine and diagnosis. That's why it was a major response - it had potential for significant spread so they wanted to nip it in the bud and give their track and trace time to do their work
Note that the 3-day snap restrictions lasted just that - 3days. Auckland went down to Level 2 and the rest of NZ back to 1 after 3 days and Auckland has now returned to level 1- this is the sort of accuracy in both message and action that builds and maintains trust in a government and their policies.
Compare that with, for example, the 16-day hospitality firebreak/pause/call it what you want in Scotland's central belt which is now on something like day 130
 

Freightmaster

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With a small number of exceptions, the postings on this thread strike me as a classic filter bubble.

Australia and New Zealand were fortunate in that they are relatively isolated so got few cases, but also went down "hard and early" with lockdown. The result is that most of the citizens can enjoy a normal life most of the time, very much unlike countries like the UK.

One exception is when a lockdown of a few days is imposed at short notice. In the UK we have lockdowns of a few months imposed at short notice. Which would anyone prefer?
While I can fully understand what you are trying to say (I had similar thoughts last Summer when I have to
admit I looked on in envy at the situation down under!), what I don't agree with is when zero covid advocates
like yourself imply that the UK could have achieved the same results as NZ "if only" we had done two things
differently last March:

1. started our initial lockdown 10-14 days earlier.

2. closed our borders and introduced a quarantine system.


While I don't deny that those measures would have made a noticeable difference to our initial death rate,
unlike New Zealand by early March the virus was already 'seeded' all over the UK which, coupled with our
much much higher population density and extensive commuting and business travel within both the UK and
Europe meant that we just couldn't 'raise the drawbridge' like NZ did, irrespective of how tempting it might
be to come to that conclusion with the benefit of hindsight!


My final thought: if New Zealand's approach is such a 'no brainer' as you claim, why have only
half a dozen or so countries out of over 200 managed to achieve zero covid nirvana
?






MARK
 

DB

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While I don't deny that those measures would have made a noticeable difference to our initial death rate,

Probably all it would have done, if anything, is move the peak of the spike to a few weeks later - it's unlikely that the end result would have been much different, given the complete lack of correlations between deaths and restrictions.
 

Cdd89

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It is plain to see that Australia and New Zealand have zero confidence in test-trace-isolate being able to contain an outbreak without being accompanied by a lockdown (which is the sales pitch of the Zero Covid people: one good lockdown, and then never again because it’ll be contained with tracing). And at the start of a lockdown, how do you know it isn’t going to last months? The leaders having such a single track focus makes it all the more likely to. I don’t envy them at all.
 

edwin_m

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While I can fully understand what you are trying to say (I had similar thoughts last Summer when I have to
admit I looked on in envy at the situation down under!), what I don't agree with is when zero covid advocates
like yourself imply that the UK could have achieved the same results as NZ "if only" we had done two things
differently last March:

1. started our initial lockdown 10-14 days earlier.

2. closed our borders and introduced a quarantine system.


While I don't deny that those measures would have made a noticeable difference to our initial death rate,
unlike New Zealand by early March the virus was already 'seeded' all over the UK which, coupled with our
much much higher population density and extensive commuting and business travel within both the UK and
Europe meant that we just couldn't 'raise the drawbridge' like NZ did, irrespective of how tempting it might
be to come to that conclusion with the benefit of hindsight!


My final thought: if New Zealand's approach is such a 'no brainer' as you claim, why have only
half a dozen or so countries out of over 200 managed to achieve zero covid nirvana
?






MARK
My post that you quoted did recognise that ANZ had the advantage of relative isolation. I also posted that both ANZ and countries like the UK would end up with a manageable level of Covid so you are wrongly accusing me of being a zero Covid advocate.

I would also point to Far Eastern countries such as South Korea, and European countries such as Germany, that were most likely also seeded quite heavily but managed the outbreak far better than the UK did.
Probably all it would have done, if anything, is move the peak of the spike to a few weeks later - it's unlikely that the end result would have been much different, given the complete lack of correlations between deaths and restrictions.
I think superimposing the lockdown dates on the graph of UK infections would disprove that assertion (noting that infections in the first lockdown were not counted due to lack of testing). Casualties started to drop immediately after each lockdown started, and hospital admissions and deaths dropped back a few weeks later.
It is plain to see that Australia and New Zealand have zero confidence in test-trace-isolate being able to contain an outbreak without being accompanied by a lockdown (which is the sales pitch of the Zero Covid people: one good lockdown, and then never again because it’ll be contained with tracing). And at the start of a lockdown, how do you know it isn’t going to last months? The leaders having such a single track focus makes it all the more likely to. I don’t envy them at all.
After the first, all the ANZ lockdowns have been short. It's the UK and other countries with less stringent approaches to applying lockdown, where once applied they have gone on for months.
 

DB

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I think superimposing the lockdown dates on the graph of UK infections would disprove that assertion (noting that infections in the first lockdown were not counted due to lack of testing). Casualties started to drop immediately after each lockdown started, and hospital admissions and deaths dropped back a few weeks later.

The 'correlation = causation' argument. And in the case of the current lockdown at least, it didn't start to drop 'immediately after' - it actually started to drop before the lockdown could have had any effect.

A graph of deaths in Sweden compared to the UK was posted on here a week or two ago, normalised for population, and showed a pretty much identical trajectory for the whole of the past year. Also, comparing the Worldometers stats for European countries with the severity fo measures shows absolutely no correlation (the Stanford University study also looked at this), and a similar lack of correlation can be seen in the USA when comparing states in the same climate zone.

There is bound to be a correlation in this country because the lockdowns were imposed when the peak was being reached - and the argument that without the lockdown it would have kept going upwards doesn't really hold water.
 

philosopher

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I have friends (both Kiwis) who recently moved back to New Zealand after about 15 years in London. Covid wasn't the reason- they had planned to do it around this time anyway as that was a good point in their son's schooling to make the move

Their day-to-day life is almost normal - they've bought a house, been on holiday, met family, they've both got work (Matt works in events so had little work in the UK since March), their son is in school, routine healthcare is operating, the list goes on. For them (and most of the people they know) life is pretty good and light years beyond what they left in the UK

They don't like the risk of snap restrictions but see it as a price worth paying for having a pretty much normal life for weeks at a time (this was their first alert level change since October)

The recent snap lockdown in Auckland was for only one case but that person had moved around quite a bit between leaving quarantine and diagnosis. That's why it was a major response - it had potential for significant spread so they wanted to nip it in the bud and give their track and trace time to do their work
Note that the 3-day snap restrictions lasted just that - 3days. Auckland went down to Level 2 and the rest of NZ back to 1 after 3 days and Auckland has now returned to level 1- this is the sort of accuracy in both message and action that builds and maintains trust in a government and their policies.
Compare that with, for example, the 16-day hospitality firebreak/pause/call it what you want in Scotland's central belt which is now on something like day 130
To be fair, if I was living in New Zealand, I probably would feel life is very good, at least when compared to the rest of world and I would definitely have felt the the lockdown they had in March / April 2020 was worth it. But New Zealand is probably the easiest country, apart from perhaps except some smaller Pacific Island states in the world to eliminate Covid.

However if I lived in Melbourne, after having endured a three month very harsh winter lockdown, still having to contend with social distancing and being somewhat on edge that at any time a few cases would tip the city in another lockdown that could last months, I would be pretty annoyed.
 

edwin_m

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The 'correlation = causation' argument. And in the case of the current lockdown at least, it didn't start to drop 'immediately after' - it actually started to drop before the lockdown could have had any effect.

A graph of deaths in Sweden compared to the UK was posted on here a week or two ago, normalised for population, and showed a pretty much identical trajectory for the whole of the past year. Also, comparing the Worldometers stats for European countries with the severity fo measures shows absolutely no correlation (the Stanford University study also looked at this), and a similar lack of correlation can be seen in the USA when comparing states in the same climate zone.

There is bound to be a correlation in this country because the lockdowns were imposed when the peak was being reached - and the argument that without the lockdown it would have kept going upwards doesn't really hold water.
It would help to understand this if you presented links to the evidence you cite.

According to the same Worldometer site the maximum cases in the UK was January 8, pretty much exactly the start of lockdown plus an infection period. United Kingdom Coronavirus: 4,126,150 Cases and 120,757 Deaths - Worldometer (worldometers.info)

The UK case rate shows a dip in November coinciding with Lockdown 2. There was no such dip in Sweden. There was in January when they imposed a lockdown too.

Your statement that the case rate was about to peak when lockdown was imposed is not credible, especially when not supported by evidence. If your suggesting some kind of attainment of herd immunity then it was obviously lost within a few months when the next peak started - demonstrating that herd immunity by infection isn't a viable strategy.
 

Domh245

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According to the same Worldometer site the maximum cases in the UK was January 8, pretty much exactly the start of lockdown plus an infection period. United Kingdom Coronavirus: 4,126,150 Cases and 120,757 Deaths - Worldometer (worldometers.info)

The worldometer site works off date reported. Cases by sample date shows a peak on the 29th Dec, and a secondary one on the 4th, with the centred 7-day average peaking on the 5th - although quite clearly the data here is rather messy because of the festive period. Weirdly breaking it into regional specimen dates shows peaks either on the 1st (all apart from..), or 5th (North West, South West, West Midlands & East Midlands) of January - apart from Yorkshire and Humber which peaked in early November

That said, the idea that we were coming to some sort of natural peak is top grade head-in-the-sand-ism. If we were coming to a natural peak, you'd expect a gradual transition as it begins to burn out, and definitely not the sort of abrupt turn that the data actually shows. Over a longer timeframe, the effectiveness of lockdowns vs a more 'marathon' set of restrictions is certainly up for debate, but the idea that forbidding people from leaving their house doesn't cut infection rates (or that the 3 times it's happened it's been purely coincidentally about the time positive tests peaked) is laughable
 

Freightmaster

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After the first, all the ANZ lockdowns have been short. It's the UK and other countries with less stringent approaches to applying lockdown, where once applied they have gone on for months...
Please define "less stringent" - this current lockdown feels extremely stringent to me,
having being prevented from doing anything other than local exercise/food shopping
for the best part of two months, and as has been reported numerous times on here,
parents of school age children are having a particularly torid time, so I fail to see how
it could be any more stringent?? :s





this current lockdown feels extremely stringent to me...

...I fail to see how it could be any more stringent??
As an update to my earlier post, here is proof the the UK's current lockdown *is* the most "stringent" in the world:



So why do locktivists insist on referring to our response as 'lockdown lite'??? :rolleyes:





MARK
 
Last edited:

edwin_m

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Please define "less stringent" - this current lockdown feels extremely stringent to me,
having being prevented from doing anything other than local exercise/food shopping
for the best part of two months, and as has been reported numerous times on here,
parents of school age children are having a particularly torid time, so I fail to see how
it could be any more stringent?? :s






As an update to my earlier post, here is proof the the UK's current lockdown *is* the most "stringent" in the world:



So why do locktivists insist on referring to our response as 'lockdown lite'??? :rolleyes:





MARK
I was referring to a less stringent approach to applying lockdown - too late and in the case of the tier system probably too little. This has allowed case numbers to get out of control and required more restrictions for a longer time later.
 

Yew

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My post that you quoted did recognise that ANZ had the advantage of relative isolation. I also posted that both ANZ and countries like the UK would end up with a manageable level of Covid so you are wrongly accusing me of being a zero Covid advocate.

I would also point to Far Eastern countries such as South Korea, and European countries such as Germany, that were most likely also seeded quite heavily but managed the outbreak far better than the UK did.

I think superimposing the lockdown dates on the graph of UK infections would disprove that assertion (noting that infections in the first lockdown were not counted due to lack of testing). Casualties started to drop immediately after each lockdown started, and hospital admissions and deaths dropped back a few weeks later.

After the first, all the ANZ lockdowns have been short. It's the UK and other countries with less stringent approaches to applying lockdown, where once applied they have gone on for months.
In all honesty, many of those countries have 'managed' covid by not testing for it anywhere near as much as we have. More like burying their heads in the sand, than a proactive approach.
 

edwin_m

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In all honesty, many of those countries have 'managed' covid by not testing for it anywhere near as much as we have. More like burying their heads in the sand, than a proactive approach.
I find that hard to believe, at least for South Korea and Germany that I cited. If they weren't testing and finding cases then the presence of Covid would still be obvious in any country with a reasonable death certification process, by looking at excess mortality figures.
 

Freightmaster

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I was referring to a less stringent approach to applying lockdown - too late and in the case of the tier system probably too little. This has allowed case numbers to get out of control and required more restrictions for a longer time later.
So you believe that "if only" we had locked down a few weeks earlier, the current lockdown would be done and dusted by now??


If that was the case, I think that most people on here (myself included) would agree with you,
but my suspicion is that if even if the current lockdown had stated a month sooner, the 'release'
dates announced by Boris yesterday wouldn't have been much different.

In other words...

Earlier lockdown (but same/shorter duration): no problem at all

Earlier lockdown (but longer duration): worst of both worlds!




MARK
 

edwin_m

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So you believe that "if only" we had locked down a few weeks earlier, the current lockdown would be done and dusted by now??


If that was the case, I think that most people on here (myself included) would agree with you,
but my suspicion is that if even if the current lockdown had stated a month sooner, the 'release'
dates announced by Boris yesterday wouldn't have been much different.

In other words...

Earlier lockdown (but same/shorter duration): no problem at all

Earlier lockdown (but longer duration): worst of both worlds!




MARK
I think the reason for the length of the current lockdown was the failure all way though to make track and trace good enough to keep the numbers low, then having failed in that a failure to lock down in September when they really started to increase. Had they got those either of things right then the numbers would have been much lower in December/January but it's difficult to know how any government (most of all one led by Johnson) would have responded to that scenario.
 

Yew

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I think the reason for the length of the current lockdown was the failure all way though to make track and trace good enough to keep the numbers low, then having failed in that a failure to lock down in September when they really started to increase. Had they got those either of things right then the numbers would have been much lower in December/January but it's difficult to know how any government (most of all one led by Johnson) would have responded to that scenario.
Let's not forget that our pandemic plans specifically recommended against track and trace, as there is minimal evidence that is showed any effect.
 

Bikeman78

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I think the reason for the length of the current lockdown was the failure all way though to make track and trace good enough to keep the numbers low, then having failed in that a failure to lock down in September when they really started to increase. Had they got those either of things right then the numbers would have been much lower in December/January but it's difficult to know how any government (most of all one led by Johnson) would have responded to that scenario.
I don't see how track and trace could possibly work. Even the efficient German system was overloaded in September and the graphs of cases and deaths look similar to ours.
 

birchesgreen

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Track and trace doesn't work with a highly infectious disease that is wide spread already as by the time you have traced one contact there could be ten new ones ready. It probably works in the case of NZ now where they have an isolated case and can nail things down to a tight locality.
 

edwin_m

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I don't see how track and trace could possibly work. Even the efficient German system was overloaded in September and the graphs of cases and deaths look similar to ours.
The shape of the graph may look similar but on the peak 7-day average in December/January, Germany was at 25,000 cases and UK 60,000. So Germany did do quite a bit better than the UK.
 

Freightmaster

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I think the reason for the length of the current lockdown was the failure all way though to make track and trace good enough to keep the numbers low,
I'm sorry, but as the posters above, track and trace is a complete waste of time in European Countries;
as mentioned, only Germany made a serious effort, and even they had to admit defeat in the end.

TTI (Test-Trace-Isolate) is one of those things which sounds great in theory, but in practice it only works
where there is extremely low prevalence (i.e. no more than a dozen cases in the entire country), as per
recent 'outbreaks' in Australia and New Zealand, but which has not been the case in this country since the
outbreak began.


then having failed in that a failure to lock down in September when they really started to increase. Had they got those either of things right then the numbers would have been much lower in December/January
I agree with you that the numbers would inevitably have been lower had the lockdown started in September,
but if numbers had been lower, Christmas probably wouldn't have been 'cancelled', which would have caused
a massive spike in early January, so we would almost certainly be in a similar position as we are now, except
that the cost in economic/mental health terms of a seven month lockdown from September to April would have
been absolutely catastrophic. :(


The shape of the graph may look similar but on the peak 7-day average in December/January, Germany was at 25,000 cases and UK 60,000. So Germany did do quite a bit better than the UK.
Sorry, but constantly comparing the UK to other countries (and that includes Sweden!) is a strawman argument.





MARK
 

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