Take it from someone who’s had it – if you get COVID-19, it’s highly likely it will bowl you for six.
Charles Taituha, who these days is an advisor contracted to Beef+Lamb NZ and several Māori entities, warns that if you get it, “you’re quite likely to be buggered for two or three days.
“Just don’t think it’s like the flu and you’ll just push through it, go and feed out and so on.
“I’ve farmed and there’s no way I could have soldiered on. I couldn’t even have whistled up the dog on one of those days.”
Charles, who lives in Te Kuiti, emphasises the same message underlying the Checklist for Farmers put together by Federated Farmers and other members of the pan sector COVID-19 industry working group: have a plan in place before it happens.
It was November 17 when Charles’ partner started feeling unwell and soon their 7-year-old daughter had a runny nose and headaches too.
“My wife went and got a test on the Saturday, and she got a text on Monday to say she was positive. By then she was feeling really crook.”
Charles, who’d had his first vaccination, was booked to have his second on the Tuesday – the very day he also got his COVID-19 positive test result.
Tracing it back, it turned out Charles’ partner was likely to have picked it up from an aunt she had visited in Hamilton, who in turn had caught it from her asymptomatic son – who like the aunt was double-vaccinated.
Charles believes in vaccination, and also agrees with the medical evidence that those who are double-vaccinated are less likely to suffer severe consequences.
“I really think we should also worry about long-COVID, and if vaccination heads off those long-term serious effects it’s something to seriously consider.”
But he’s not into telling others what to do.
“I will say this: don’t think that because you have had both jabs you won’t get it. Our experience has shown us that double-vaxed people can still get it – and pass it on.”
Charles’ family has been unimpressed by the conflicting messages, health information lines left to ring and ring unanswered, and other poor responses from his DHB and local health services.
His family had resources and friends/family willing to help “but not everyone is so lucky,” he said. The people in Hamilton giving them advice – when they could get hold of them – didn’t seem to realise Te Kuiti has just one supermarket, and ‘click and collect’ is often booked up five days in advance.
Those who want to self-isolate on farm need to have plans for all these sorts of contingencies, Charles said.
“I mean, this time of year is weaning. If your operation is tight for staff, what’s going to happen if you’re out of action for two or three days. You need to have worked these things through with your stock agent.
“Often in farming, when things are already in motion – like trucks turning up and all that sort of stuff – it’s hard to change it all quickly. So you might have to ring someone, or pay someone to come and deal with all of that.”
Charles said on some of the bigger blocks “it could be even worse. You could have a shearing gang of six all out because one of them tests positive.
“Some of the trust farms I’m involved with have 40,000 odd ewes and we’re weaning right now. If we had staff out [from COVID-19], it could put us back three weeks.”
Rural communities are such that people rally round and help “but for peace of mind, and to reduce those potential hurdles, I’d say put in the pre-planning effort.”
- Find the COVID-19 Checklist for Farmers, here.