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NZ well placed to contain this virus

Editorial

Here we are on the cusp of a “lockdown”, our whole nation shutting down tomorrow night apart from essential services, most citizens confined to their homes.

It's almost unimaginable, or was until very recently.

The important thing to stress as we enter this weird situation is that New Zealand is well placed to contain any coronavirus outbreaks.

We are going into lockdown early, triggered by two Covid-19 cases announced on Saturday that appear to show community transmission as there is no clear link to someone arriving from overseas.

This quick action is key, from what evidence is available of countries that have or appear to be getting on top of their coronavirus outbreaks. Also vital is the public abiding by the restrictions, and in that our small size, strong community spirit and good leadership set us up well to establish an effective national lockdown. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has indicated that border restrictions are about to be tightened further as well.

We are being warned to expect Covid-19 cases to spike over coming days and potentially for two weeks, and then reduce as the enforced social distancing of alert level 4 limits further virus spreading and creates the space to trace all cases, and halt community transmission.

So far there have been no Covid-19 cases confirmed in the Tairawhiti but one of the suspected community transmission cases was not far south from here, in the Wairarapa.

We all have to act as though there is possible community transmission around us, as that is what it takes to protect those who are vulnerable — and we have many of them, with a high proportion of people aged over 70 and also many people with pre-existing respiratory-related health conditions that make them more vulnerable to getting seriously ill from this virus.

As the Prime Minister has said, if we don't contain the coronavirus we will lose tens of thousands of fellow New Zealanders. Our health system would also be overwhelmed and unable to treat everybody.

The stakes are incredibly high and we all have to do our bit.

We also have to look out for each other. Keep in touch by phone or email with people, especially our elderly, who you think might need support and encouragement. Offer to drop off food to those who are vulnerable, so they don't need to go out to replenish supplies.

Let's also enjoy this family time we have for the next month. Be understanding, support each other, keep up the love.