Medical Professionals Demand New Measures To Prevent COVID-19 Spread
At 1PM Sunday, 21 March 2020, a group of over 900 petition signatories represented by urgent care physician Dr. Kelvin Ward and other medical professionals will deliver an urgent petition to government — Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, the Minister of Health, and Deputy General of the Ministry of the Health on the front steps of Parliament.
The petition is just over 12 hours old, as of this writing. By the time of delivery, they expect well over 1,100 signatures.
Concerned the government is not taking strong enough action to avoid the same disastrous path of Italy and the US, the group from the medical field will call for four strong new steps, similar to those taken by Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan that have saved thousands of lives.
Specifically there should be immediate:
1. Quarantine (not self-isolation) of COVID-19 positive patients
2. Extensive testing and contact tracing
3. Self-isolation of all asymptomatic contacts
4. Mandatory social lockdown
The signatories keep coming in, with 100 more an hour added at the time of this writing. In normal times, the group would allow for more signatures before delivery, but time is of the essence, and unless these four measures are taken, they do not believe medical professionals would have the time to deliver such a petition.
“The government so far has acted admirably in its communication, and rightfully earned respect of Kiwis. It is our duty as professionals to give Prime Minister Ardern and the government information from the ground, both from the New Zealand medical community and what we know from our colleagues overseas. We have concluded we are not taking strong enough measures to succeed.
“It’s not hyperbolic to say we have only hours to prevent the inevitable horrors we see in countries that waited too long. At the rate we are going, we will look like Italy and the US — running out of medical supplies. Turning patients away. Kiwis dying needlessly, because we are over capacity.
“We can stop the speed of the spread of Covid-19, but only if we act today. Not next month, not next week. Today. The coming disaster is preventable."
Dr. Ward recognizes these actions will be painful for New Zealand, but says, “The sacrifices we are asking for are indeed exceptional, in these exceptional times. But this crisis is not unprecedented. We’ve seen Covid-19 containment go horribly wrong in so many countries. But there’s hope, as we’ve seen it nipped in the bud in others – Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The path is clear. We just need to decide which we are going to take — toward defeat, or success.”
This call mirrors public health professor Michael Baker’s repeated calls from University of Otago, who says we must not only "throw the kitchen sink” at the problem, but “the whole house”.
Indeed, the sacrifices made are nothing compared to what New Zealand would endure if we don’t act now to follow good examples of how to save our medical professionals, and save as many lives as possible.