Friday, September 17, 2021
Times of Georgia


Yesterday, 20 new community Covid cases were reported, all of them in Auckland. However, there were 34 unlinked cases.

Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said there was “no widespread community transmission in Auckland” but assumed there could be more cases out there.

After a weekend in which tens of thousands of Aucklanders were vaccinated against Covid-19, health officials are gearing up for surveillance testing in several city suburbs.

The suburbs will be the focus of testing and contact tracing this week as health officials try to crack the mystery Covid-19 cases likely to keep the city at level 4.

The government says it won’t make a decision on the city’s alert levels until it has all the information in front of it at this afternoon’s Cabinet meeting, but most experts expect there will be no move to level 3.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has said he thinks moving down alert levels this week is looking increasingly unlikely.

If the alert level coming down isn’t on the cards, a fresh battering of local business confidence is.

Goff says the city hall will be looking to central government for support as the country’s biggest city weathers its longest-ever lockdown.

After the politicians view, lets look at what do Covid-19 experts think will happen?

Epidemiologist Rod Jackson

Epidemiologist Rod Jackson told Newstalk ZB this morning there will be no change to alert levels for Auckland but the rest of the country could probably move down a level.

“Delta doesn’t play by the old rules.” Delta was like a forest fire in Australia – fighting the fire but leaving a few embers would see it flare up again.

Mystery cases were the big concern. He believed they were continuing because people weren’t following the rules. Where he lived – in Auckland’s Ponsonby – he saw people chatting 1 metre away from each other.

Vaccination was the only way out. He believed everyone could get vaccinated by November. Rates could be increased by making it easier for people.

Vaccination was the only way out. He believed everyone could get vaccinated by November. Rates could be increased by making it easier for people.

Many people still didn’t “get it” because they didn’t know anyone who had contracted Covid-19.

“We’ve got to get off our arses and get vaccinated.” He wanted to see mobile and 24/7 vaccination centres, and every business that had more than 6 employees to have “vaccination parties”.

The number of cases had dropped substantially so the country was doing “a bloody good job”.

Epidemiologist Michael Baker

Epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker said he is “optimistic” New Zealand will stamp out the current Covid-19 outbreak but he believes unlinked cases will affect Cabinet’s decision.

“We are at this frustrating stage where you have got the long tail, so I think the difficulty really is we’ve still got evidence of case appearing in the community,”.

Although cases then become “linkable” to previously reported positive cases, Baker said they are still an area of worry.

“The fact that they are not known means they are in the community potentially infecting other people.”

If Auckland were to move out of alert level 4, Baker said new clusters would appear.

“We know alert level 4 is working well, the reproduction number is really low, but now it seems too soon to reduce the pressure on this virus.”

While all recent cases have been in Auckland, Baker said the rest of the country must remain careful.

“We still have essential workers going around the country and there is a chance someone could carry the virus with them.”

Ideally, Baker said the rest of the country could move down to alert level 1 once Auckland has moved down to level 3.

Baker said the risk of Auckland moving to a lower alert level today could see new Covid cases flaring up again.

Speaking to TV1’s Breakfast programme, he said the mystery cases could prove to be a problem – in that they could easily spark up other clusters.

“The trouble is these are people we don’t know about.”

Baker acknowledged it was too early to move out of alert level 4.

“This is the end of the outbreak in Auckland and we just have to persist for a few more days.”

(IWK Bureau)

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