Canterbury professor “”moving New Zealand to Alert Level 4 is the right move”

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Aug 17, 2021 |

The country is going back into a level 4 lockdown at 11:59pm tonight, for just the second time since the pandemic began.
It comes after a community case was discovered in Auckland. The man, a 58-year-old male from Devonport, on Auckland’s North Shore, had also travelled to Coromandel.

University of Canterbury Professor Michael Plank said “moving the whole of New Zealand to Alert Level 4 is definitely the right move and will give us the best chance of nipping this outbreak in the bud before it can get too large.”

“Data from the outbreaks last year and the fact that the Delta variant is about twice as infectious, suggest that Alert Level 3 would not have been enough to control the outbreak if community transmission has become established, whereas Level 4 likely will be. “

University of Canterbury Professor Michael Plank

He said “vaccination will help slow the outbreak, but coverage is still too low to make a big difference. Although it hasn’t yet been confirmed, it’s almost certain this case is the Delta variant of Covid-19 because all cases in MIQ over the last few weeks have been Delta.”

Professor Michael Plank said “the one thing that could get us out of jail is if contact tracing or genome sequencing establish a close link to the border with minimal community exposure. If that’s the case, we might still get away with only a handful of cases. But because there’s no clear link to the border, it’s also possible the virus has been spreading undetected for a significant period of time. In that case there could easily be more than 100 people infected by now and a strict lockdown is our only available option.

“Although the case lives in Auckland, the virus could be anywhere in the country. The national alert level change buys us some time to see results of testing and contact tracing to assess how widely the outbreak has spread.

“One thing we’ve learned from watching Sydney is that half-measures can quickly lead to disaster. It’s better to go hard at the start and then relax than the other way round. With Delta there are no second chances. If we all play our part, there’s every reason to think that this outbreak can eventually be crushed. How long that takes will depend on how many other cases are out there, and we’ll know more on that front in the next few days.”

“With this community case in Auckland, and nationwide lockdown, we have far less room for lack of consistency in our protective behaviour. We don’t know for certain, but it’s likely that the variant is Delta. Where we may have got away with not sticking to public health measures so solidly on previous occasions, the odds are stacked against us this time. We should be prepared to act consistently in every place we are, and at all times to protect ourselves and each other. 

“We’ll be best at doing this if we can stay calm and act where we have the ability to cover all our bases effectively – because when we are not calm, we can miss things, like forgetting to scan, or not masking up when we really need to be. So take time to prepare yourself and think things through. Pack a mask, plan how you’re going to stay distant, take your sanitizer, remember what worked for you before when working at home for you and your family. “

“The objective here is to isolate cases, and to make sure the virus doesn’t spread any further. Stay physically distant, wear a mask, wash your hands and get vaccinated when it’s clear what that process might look like after we find out more. So we need to do all the things, all the time to maximise our chances of getting out of this situation quickly, and in parallel, to build up community protection against the worst effects of the coronavirus.”

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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