Guest post: Their decision to rely on scientific and medical advice

Originally a comment by Rob on A table.

There is ample evidence (and in some quarters acknowledgement) that the US is undercounting deaths in retirement homes, amongst the homeless and especially just deaths at home. NYC acknowledged they simply stopped counting those because they were not testing bodies, yet the home death rate went from around 25 per day to 250 per day. Do the maths on that one.

So far NZ has had 12 fatalities. One at home, 10 in hospital of which I think 9 were associated with rest home clusters (7 from a dementia care facility in my city), which just shows how awful the disease is when it hits such places.

We have been very fortunate in that NZ was well set up to observe what was happening overseas and we have an early defended border for quarantine purposes. More to the point we have had political leaders that were united in their decision to rely on scientific and medical advice and the clarity and effectiveness of communication has been nothing short of brilliant. We’ve also done something like 85K tests (17k per million of population). Considering our health systems and government have nothing like the resources and wealth of the US or many other western nations — and that we were on an Italy-like trajectory — that decision making and communication from our politicians is what has made the difference between a health disaster and economic disruption.

That said, we have had at least two deaths resulting from non-covid harm that can be attributed to the pandemic. One was an elderly man who was physically well but suffered severe anxiety as a result of the lockdown and the inability to see friends and loved ones. I understand the anti-anxiety drugs killed him. The other was a young man who disappeared the day the Lockdown was announced. Again prone to depression and anxiety.

All tragic. Where do you begin and end counting victims. In Japan hospitals are turning away people suffering from strokes and heart attacks because they are overwhelmed with Covid-19 cases.

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