Thursday 1 September 2022

Test to exit

It's great that Emily Harvey and Dion O'Neale have done the modelling work on test-to-exit from Covid isolation. It's crazy that policy and advice has been this bad for this long.

Recall that, way back in May, testing expert Anne Wyllie pointed out some problems in how MoH was doing things. At the time, MoH was advising people to ignore positive test results if they'd completed their seven days of isolation. But they had absolutely no evidence in support of that advice. They had looked at the average duration of infectiousness, and simply concluded that if you were above that average period, then your positive was likely false. It really was that stupid, because Ministry of Health really is that stupid

MoH updated the advice, somewhat, to say that a negative test was not necessary to leave isolation. Requiring a test to exit would have been a policy decision that would have had to have been made up the chain somewhere. But it is just crazy that they didn't say, for example, "While a negative test result is not necessary for ending self-isolation, it is strongly recommended. Those who continue to test positive are likely to still be infectious. Leaving isolation while positive, even after 7 days, puts others at risk." That would not have been a policy decision requiring higher-ups to decide something. They would have just been doing their job in providing the best possible advice. 

But that was too hard for Ministry of Health, somehow. And so bad advice has been up there for months. And because not enough people know that the Ministry of Health is utterly incompetent, they rely on the Ministry's advice. Employers who don't know better may encourage people to come back to work, following the letter of the guidelines. Schools may tell students to come back, not knowing that they're putting the rest of the class and the teacher at risk. 

The worst of all possible worlds is when government advice is viewed as authoritative but is actually terrible. It would be better that no advice were given. 

Harvey and O'Neale put up the modelling showing that 5 days of isolation, combined with test-to-exit, results in fewer overall days in isolation. Safe people spend less time needlessly in isolation; risky people are less likely to put others into isolation. 

Blogging has been far lighter than usual because Castle Crampton has been Plague Palace. The Boy tested positive on Friday evening. The rest of us tested positive Saturday afternoon. Whoever gave it to him might not have given it to him had they had to test to leave isolation. But people just follow the irresponsible Ministry of Health advice, because they believe that they can trust government. 

I've spent a fair bit of time sleeping. Hopefully back to office next week, but taking it easy, and regardless of government advice, nobody's leaving this house without a negative test. Because it would be irresponsible of us to put others at risk. 

The Ministry of Health is so incomprehensibly bad.

1 comment:

  1. Well you can’t expect the MoH to buck the Public Service code of CYA. Always follow the pack and have an email that shows you filled someone else’s advice and you can’t go wrong.
    Plus it would be wrong to hold them to a higher standard than other exemplary ministries like immigration.