Opinion – Time to Change the Narrative

We need a plan with certainty and we need leadership to move forward in 2022.  We need our border to reopen, so families can be reunited and we can reunite with the rest of the world

Let’s start the new year with a fresh personal, professional and political approach to dealing with COVID-19. Suggests Adam Leslie, General Manager – Events at 212F.

The need to turn the tide of negativity has overwhelming support from everyone I talk to, so I believe that it really is time to ‘change the narrative’ by replacing fear with fact.

After 2 years of living in a politically and media induced ‘fear’ of this pandemic – where we were led to believe that this could be as catastrophic as an Ebola outbreak – the facts now point to it being more akin to Influenza, which let’s be honest we gave up worrying about years ago.

Whilst Corona must still be taken seriously, here in New Zealand our combined Christmas of road toll and drowning fatalities (44 as at writing) is almost the same as our total reported COVID fatalities (53 as at writing), yet the difference is over a two-week period compared to a two-year period.

I quote these statistics with some scepticism as COVID reporting has often been flawed, with one case being a victim who was shot in his own driveway and clearly died ‘with’ COVID and not ‘of’ COVID.  In addition, 5 deaths are attributed to cases who did not test positive for COVID-19 (four tested negative and one was not tested). This was reported on our own Ministry of Health’s website.

I have longed for the media to take responsibility for their own reporting and daily ‘breaking news’ stories of new case numbers. It was something we were all initially fixated with but soon became our morbid fix of groundhog-day negativity.  The media aren’t the only offenders. Government daily briefings added to our misery with a constant parade of experts, epidemiologists and modellers who maintained an equally constant rhetoric of ‘doom and gloom’.

What we needed to know from the daily case numbers, is how many were mild or asymptomatic, sent home or hospitalised?  Of those in intensive care or who had succumbed to the virus, how many had underlying comorbidities, which sadly meant that they were always destined for an uncertain outcome even if they didn’t have COVID?  It’s only in the latter stages that we have found out how many of our COVID cases have actually recovered, which is by far the largest percentage, but sadly just not that newsworthy.

This is the true story of our NZ COVID statistics and one that if known at the start, I am convinced would help to destigmatise the inherent fear that we’ve been fed.  Whilst it is unfair to say that government and media have misreported these figures [lied], they have certainly manipulated them to elicit behaviours [from us] to suit their own agendas’.

So, how do we move forward in 2022? We simply we need the NZ Government to have a plan that doesn’t involve hiding from COVID but helps us to learn to live with it.  Their only ‘reaction’ to date (I refuse to call it a plan as that requires strategic thinking) has been to impose lockdowns of cities and borders to buy them more time to create a plan…we are still waiting.

The sheer volume of these reactions has resulted in confusion and anxiety within our communities (here and overseas) and severely eroded business confidence at all levels and across every industry (here and overseas).

We need a plan with certainty and we need leadership to move forward in 2022.  We need our border to reopen, so families can be reunited and we can reunite with the rest of the world. It’s clear that reopening our border is intrinsic to both personal and business health, and as we are one of the most highly vaccinated countries in the world (currently 92% fully vaccinated for those eligible) it can now be done with an acceptable level of risk.

From a business perspective, it is simply unsustainable to continue operating on an island and ‘as an island’ by pretending that we can operate without international trade (if that was the case, why would we need to borrow from overseas, at the staggering amounts we are currently doing?)

2022 needs to start with the NZ Government coming back with a fresh, positive approach that signals to the entire country that COVID is the past and we are taking control of our future.  We simply need to start being proactive about how we deal with COVID-19 and the inevitable variants to come.

Kiwi’s pride themselves on their initiative and leading the world with our ability to be flexible and intuitive, so it’s time to prove that we can also move on and start looking to the future with a lot more positivity.

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