This week I’ve delivered Meals on Wheels through St Barnabas Rest Home twice to a group of mostly older people who are among the population most at risk from Covid-19.
Apart from being a great way for me to get out of the house and feel useful, it’s led to some good conversations across the doorsteps (with appropriate distances maintained).
Without fail, each of these people is full of profuse thanks to Jacinda Ardern and the Government for keeping them and their loved ones safe.
They feel lucky to live in Dunedin, lucky to have a hot meal and to be able to keep themselves warm.
I feel lucky, too. In my bubble of one, plus two cats.
Both my boys are living in their flatting bubbles, where some university/polytechnic work has resumed for them remotely.
I miss them, but I’m grateful they are safe.
That’s why this column is a big thank you to the people of Dunedin for your unity, your sacrifice, and your success so far.
You should be enormously proud of what we are achieving together, even though there’s plenty more to do.
We’re showing that a team of 5 million across the country, working together, really can take a huge step towards the goal of eliminating Covid-19 from New Zealand.
Now we have to finish the job.
As you will have heard, New Zealand moves out of Alert Level 4 after Anzac Day, on Tuesday, April 28.
The Government would not have been able to make that decision without your efforts.
Our infection rate (the number of cases each person with the virus passes it on to) is now 0.48, less than half a person each.
Overseas the average is more than five times as high.
That progress is thanks to you.
Nearly every case identified since April 1 is related to an existing cluster or person with the virus.
Fewer than 10 cases don’t have one of those clear links, which is just 0.6% of the total number of cases. That small number is thanks to you, too.
In addition, we have now tested over 85,000 New Zealanders for Covid-19, and almost all those tests are negative.
That gives me confidence the risk of hidden community transmission is low.
But remember this is a marathon, not a sprint.
As we move to Alert Level 3, let’s not waste this chance to eliminate the virus by losing our focus or discipline.
We’re not out of the woods yet.
Any complacency now can undo everyone’s hard work.
Here are the golden rules for life at Alert Level 3.
1. Stay home. If you are not at work, school, exercising or getting essentials, then you must be at home, the same as at Alert Level 4.
2. Work from home if you can. We still want the vast majority of people working from home and limiting contact with others.
3. Make your business Covid-19 safe. Employers must only reopen their workplace if they can do so safely. Important industries like construction, manufacturing and forestry will be able to open, as will retail so long as it is not customer facing.
4. Stay local. Exercise at local parks or beaches within your region. Closer to home is better.
Activities must be safe — keep two metres away from anybody not in your bubble.
5. Keep your bubble as small as possible. If you need to, you can expand your bubble a small amount to bring in close family, isolated people or caregivers.
6. Wash your hands with soap often. Then dry them. Cough or sneeze into your elbow.
7. Stay home if you are sick, and get tested is you have any respiratory illness. Schools reopen on April 29, but remember attendance is voluntary — parents should keep children at home if they can.
We are lucky to have the Otago Covid-19 welfare help-line for people in Otago who need help with emergency food, firewood, household goods and services, such as getting your groceries and prescriptions delivered. The number is 0800 322-4000.
Our aim is to enter lockdown once, do it right, and hopefully never return. We all want to move down alert levels as soon as we safely can.
The discipline we have displayed at Alert Level 4 must now become the hallmark of our actions in Alert Level 3.
Kia kaha, take care, and let’s finish the job.