By PHILIP CHANDLER
Queenstown’s biggest problem as borders reopen is the resort’s limited-facilities public hospital, visiting Act Party leader David Seymour says.
‘‘You’re going to have thousands of people, and where do you take that tiny percentage that do get [Covid]?
‘‘It’s been a long-term problem for Queenstown, the development of hospital infrastructure hasn’t kept up with the growth of the region.’’
Seymour says the solution is providing homecare options for Covid patients.
He uses the example of Canada’s Ontario, where those who are ill are provided with pulse oximeters that measure oxygen levels — ‘‘that can save a lot of people from having to go to hospital’’.
‘‘Similarly, do they have treatments, molnupiravir, for example, regeneron, are these things going to be made available?’’
He’s critical of the government for not giving exact border reopening dates, given the South Island’s primarily high vaccination rates.
‘‘I talk to businesspeople in Queenstown [who say] if we’re opening up again we need to get more staff in, and they need somewhere to stay, so you’ve got an accommodation and labour crunch happening.
‘‘Now, that’s a big problem if it’s six weeks away but it’s a massive problem if it gets foisted on you in a couple of weeks.’’
Seymour says he’s in no doubt vaccinations make a difference, citing evidence even after six months that you’re ‘‘96% less likely to get severe Covid illness, so if our objective is to stop the hospitals being overrun, vaccination, absolutely critical’’.
That said, more and more people are anxious about the divisions being caused across many sectors of NZ, between, essentially, the vaxxed and unvaxxed.
‘‘Our view is rather than mass [vaccination] mandates, the government should give a clear legal framework and allow businesses to decide what their policy is.’’
Saying an entire sector, like hospitality, for example, needs to be vaxxed is ‘‘really, really difficult’’, he says.