The other day Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, the Director General of Health, said that he was closely following the US CDC for advice regarding the use of masks. This was the same day he lied to media about our testing regime following “international practice” when we aren’t even close to actual “international practice”.

The Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield told a briefing in Wellington this afternoon that the experience in parts of Asia of routine face mask use by people who had common respiratory illnesses appeared to back this up.

“There’s some suggestion that routine wearing of face masks by people when they’re out in public may help reduce the transmission, for example if they are asymptomatic.

“So we’re looking very closely at that, I’m watching that CDC review very closely.”

Well, the US CDC has now advised Americans to wear face masks:

The White House says the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that Americans cover their faces when leaving the home, especially around other people.

…The latest guidance suggests that Americans use makeshift coverings, such as T-shirts, scarves or bandanas to cover their noses and mouths.

The policy change comes as public health officials are concerned that those without symptoms can spread the virus which causes Covid-19.

The actual advice from the CDC states:

CDC continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus across the United States.  We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.  This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.  In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

It is critical to emphasize that maintaining 6-feet social distancing remains important to slowing the spread of the virus.  CDC is additionally advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.  Cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators.  Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

Pretty clear advice, yet bizarrely Dr. Ashley Bloomfield was at pains to say that the Ministry of Health does not make the same recommendations. He even went as far to crow about how brilliantly New Zealand was doing compared to the USA. The official advice regarding masks remains:

For most people in the community, PPE such as face masks are not recommended. However, for people with symptoms of an acute respiratory infection, the World Health Organization recommends that there may be benefit in wearing a face mask to reduce the spread of infection to other people.

So, yet again the Ministry of Health thinks they know better than other countries. We’ve got a unique definition of what is classified as recovered, they think testing is going swimmingly, that we are leading the world, and now they are ignoring advice from the US CDC despite saying they were following those developments closely.

Watching Dr Ashley Bloomfield ignore “international practice”, explain it away with glib assertions that aren’t fact-based, all the while patting himself and his fellow travellers on the back while uttering the political slogans of his masters, does not fill one with any sort of confidence. Rather it fills one with feelings of impending doom and dread.

I’m increasingly of the opinion that Dr. Ashley Bloomfield is acting more like General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett, VC, KCB, DSO in assessing the progress of the war against Covid-19.

Unfortunately for us we aren’t living in a Blackadder episode, we are living in the real world.


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Cam Slater
As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats. Cam has previously voted National, Act and NZ First, he never was ever tempted to vote Labour or Green, but once contemplated voting for the Maori party. They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners. He is fearless in his pursuit of a story. Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.