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  • Wed, 1, Apr, 2020 - 5:00:AM

Please! Don’t go see your mates!

New Zealanders are social people. Even I, a card-carrying introvert, can attest to that.

It’s not just that we like to have a yarn – we help each other out. So naturally, this lockdown is testing our mettle.

We’re living through a strange moment  – a moment that’s knocking us all sideways. And that’s because the way to do the most good goes against our collective nature. We need to stay away from each other, and that doesn’t feel right.

According to Professor Hugh Montgomery, COVID-19 carries an astronomical spread-rate. Apparently, a person will pass on a “normal flu” to 1.3 or 1.4 people, if such a division existed. After “10 layers” of spread, that person would be responsible for around 14 cases of flu. COVID-19 spreads to around 3 people, which after 10 layers, infects 59,000.

Yeah, those numbers are correct. Don’t worry, it didn’t fit in my brain either.

I found that this already iconic image by Dr. Siouxsie Wiles & Toby Morris illustrated (heh) the phenomenon in a way I could better understand. Essentially, one person passes it to three, and each of them passes it to three, and each of them passes it to three – it’s the world’s worst pyramid scheme. And as with pyramid schemes, the most gains aren’t made by keeping the business in your bubble, it’s about recruiting more and more people!

Unlike a pyramid scheme, you DON’T want to recruit more people for COVID-19 (and you probably want to stay away from pyramid schemes too).

It was only after coming to grips with all of that, that the gravity of staying in my bubble hit me. It doesn’t matter that my bubble appears to be safe, and my neighbour’s bubble appears to be safe – I still shouldn’t visit them. If I ‘pop my bubble’ by visiting the folks next door, I could ignite a chain that infects 59,000 people.

I just celebrated my birthday in my bubble. My bubble-mates gave me a voucher to the store of my choice, written out on a piece of paper, decorated with highlighter, to be redeemed later. It wasn’t the most exhilarating birthday of my life, but we potentially saved thousands of lives that day. As we will today. As we will tomorrow.

Lately, I’ve been hit with a deep lethargy. And I think part of it comes from this overwhelming feeling of powerlessness. But the opposite is true. I’m more powerful right now than I’ve ever been in my entire life.

As are you.

For the first time, perhaps in human history, we save lives by watching Netflix. We can flatten the curve by laying on our lawns. We can save our health system from being overwhelmed by watching Grey’s Anatomy.

There’s a chance that every friend group will contain one goober who doesn’t get it. You know – that friend in the chat who’s like, ‘naw, you can still come see ME’.

But there’s an opening in the friend group for a hero. A hero who kindly explains what a terrible idea that is. A hero who provides the reasons – all five million of them.

For accurate information regarding COVID-19, please see here.


  • COVID-19 /
  • Coronavirus /
  • Health /
  • Healthcare /
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