September 29, 2021 45 new cases of COVID in the community are “alarming” today, including 12 unrelated “mystery” cases. All of today’s cases are from Auckland.
Two of the country’s leading epidemiologists say the high number of COVID-19 cases today is simply the result of Auckland falling below alert levels, which has seen more people-to-people contact.
And Professors Michael Baker and Michael Planck say it’s likely the number of cases could stay high – and it’s also likely Auckland will likely stay at Level 3 for some time.
Chief Health Officer Dr Ashley Bloomfield today announced 45 new cases of COVID and said it was the highest number in some time.
Thirty-three were family or close contacts of existing cases and were not contagious in the community, while 12 were from two households.
Bloomfield said higher numbers were expected given the number of contacts previously identified. Twelve cases were also unrelated but for six some links were visible.
Some carried out essential occupations during their period of contagion.
Meanwhile, Northland DHB is informing residents that a positive case from Auckland who visited the cat earlier this month was not contagious at the time, an investigation has revealed.
Ankush Mittal, Public Health Medicine Specialist, Naga Tai Ora – Public Health Northland confirmed: “Following our investigation, the clinical evidence we have shows that the case was not contagious in Northland and Auckland. He is likely to have an infection after his return. “
There is no case in Northland.
Professor Baker said he didn’t want to be alarmed and would have to see two or three consecutive days with a high number of cases before determining if this was a trend.
Where to get vaccinated in Auckland – without reservation
However, he had commented last week that the number of cases would likely increase if Auckland lowered the alert level.
“I spoke about this long tail problem over the past week which indicated that we have not been able to stop the ongoing transmission.
“This means that there are cases in the community that essentially moving from Alert Level 4 to Alert Level 3 below allows for greater transmission to the whole community from these cases. remaining. “
Baker said it takes about a week for alert levels to change as there are still people infected in the community.
“When you change the alert levels, you always look back within seven to ten days.
“Alert level 3 people start to be exposed, then you have a five day incubation period and then you have to be sick enough to be tested, then you have a nighttime test, a week later we finally see that [number].
“We can see that the numbers continue to increase from now on.
“I wouldn’t treat him like a blip, but that’s the way we’re doing right now. I would like someone to prove me wrong.
He added that while it was not yet a trend, there was a possibility of increased alert levels.
Modeling professor Michael Plank of the University of Canterbury said the increase in the number of cases today could be the first sign of a change in the alert level and, if so, it could mean Auckland has been stuck at Alert Level 3 for some time. .
Planck said it may just have been a “hit” due to the large number of family contacts tested in a single day, but it was also possible that this was the start of the level’s impact. alert 3 via the number of cases. To be.
Since some of these cases were at work, that meant there was a high risk of the virus spreading to workplaces and other parts of the community. he said.
Planck warned that moving to Level 2, while this level of community transmission would still lead to a rapid increase in hospitalizations, means Auckland could remain stuck at Alert Level 3 until its vaccination rate does not rise. too high.
While he acknowledged it would be a hard sell, there was also a possibility that Auckland could revert to Level 4 if the government tried to crack down on another crackdown and was “too hard”.
However, level 3 may be enough to control the epidemic and prevent it from growing very quickly.
“If the numbers start to rise again, the government will have to make some tough decisions. Lowering the alert level is likely to lead to an explosion of cases and large numbers of people either unvaccinated or still getting their second dose, the population remains vulnerable.
“Level 3 may be enough to keep the outbreak under control, but it could mean Auckland is stuck at level 3 for a long time until many more people can receive their second dose.
“The delta version is really good at finding unvaccinated people. The message is therefore clear: get vaccinated, ”he said.
Pacific chief health officer Dr Colin Tukuitonga is shocked at the news of 45 new cases.
“It was a shock, wasn’t it?” Dr Ashley tried to say it was planned, but there are a lot of new cases, ”he told the Herald.
“We hope this trend will not happen again.”
When asked if he thinks Auckland alerted Level 3 too early, there was a long pause before saying, a bit politely, that the rear view was a wonderful thing.
“Maybe we were too early.”
Tukuitonga said targeted closures in parts of Auckland could work if all cases were in a particular suburb, for example.
But with places of interest in West Auckland, the CBD, East Auckland, and South Auckland, it looks like cases can spill over into the city – and therefore a targeted lockdown approach won’t work.
When asked if it was possible for Auckland to be moved to Alert Level 4 by authorities, he replied, “If we get 100 cases tomorrow, you can consider it.
“The problem for the government is that it is worried about business and revenue. It will make matters worse.
“It will take a lot for the government to do that. “
Immunologist Dr. Diane Sika-Paotonu was intrigued by today’s figures.
“Unrelated mystery cases keep coming to the fore again and again, which is a matter of concern and highlights the need for all to be vigilant.”
To keep New Zealand safe, she said the high number of vaccinations must continue.
“It is important that those who need a COVID-19 test always come forward to do it, and they should not be stigmatized by doing so. “
John Tamihare, CEO of Viparira, said Tamaki is currently a “fatigue blanket” in Makaurau.
As the country’s holiday period expands, he said it was time for the government and New Zealand to start learning to live with the virus.
However, he and staff at testing stations in the area have seen their numbers drop.
Earlier this month, health officials were concerned about a sharp drop in the number of tests.
Dr Raviri McCurry Jensen, clinical director of the HORA National Coalition network of 54 practices, said epidemics in vulnerable communities require “extra effort”.
“Epidemics in these communities will require additional efforts, additional resources, and culturally consistent service providers. It is in our collective interest to support these communities towards eradication or prevention. Engage authentically and invest our efforts and resources.
ACT chief David Seymour said 45 new cases in 43 days after the lockdown began show the government’s elimination strategy was not working, “he has lost control.”
Delta has changed the costs and benefits of government strategy. Blockages are no longer short and quick, and freedom is no longer guaranteed to bear fruit.
“The government now needs to show leadership and clarity. The elimination strategy will not work this time. We are going to change course. We need to move from elimination to harm reduction.