An epidemiologist says New Zealand’s record high covid-19 case numbers today and the spread across the North Island are a reminder that the whole country needs to be on the lookout for the virus.
Dr Siouxsie Wiles of the University of Auckland said the 207 community cases today – just above the previous record high of 206 cases on November 6 — were disappointing but not surprising, given that people are moving around more.
She expects case numbers to keep rising but said areas outside Auckland could take action to stamp out local outbreaks.
Keeping track needed
“We really need people to be getting tested if they have any symptoms, and also keeping track of their movements, and letting contact tracers know where they’ve been,” Dr Wiles said.
“So if everybody can do that, then we should be able to stamp out those cases again.”
Dr Wiles said if people did not take measures such as self-isolating there would be bigger outbreaks in areas beyond Auckland.
A total of 90 percent of New Zealanders have now had their first dose of the Pfizer covid-19 vaccine and 81 percent are fully vaccinated.
The latest figures show almost 27,000 first and second vaccine doses were given nationally yesterday.
Professor Michael Baker from the University of Otago said there were only five days left for people to get their first dose of covid-19 vaccine if they wanted to be fully protected before Christmas.
He said the clock was ticking and it was time to start a conversation with vaccine-hesitant friends and family.
In the areas with active cases, 71 percent of eligible Northlanders have had their second dose, 85 percent in Auckland, 78 percent in Waikato, 75 percent in Taranaki, 81 percent in Canterbury, 73 percent in Lakes DHB and 78 percent in MidCentral.
Ninety people in hospital
Ninety people are in hospital — most in Auckland but there is also one case each in Whangārei and Dargaville.
Of the hospital cases, 59 percent are unvaccinated or not eligible for a vaccine.
Dr Baker said he recommends only having vaccinated people at Christmas gatherings.
“If you have an unvaccinated person there, and the virus will be manifesting quite widely over that period, they are real risks to everyone at those events, and particularly to unvaccinated children and older people who may not have mounted such a good immune response to the vaccine,” he said.
Dr Baker said the government should keep a solid boundary around Auckland and keep the rest of the country in an elimination mode.
He also said the rollout of vaccines for children from ages 5 to 11 should start before Christmas.
“I think that would be a great Christmas gift to the children of New Zealand.”
This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.