‘Mask up’ – warns epidemiologist over NZ’s rising fourth wave of covid-19

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Professor Michael Baker's covid-19 fourth wave warning
Professor Michael Baker . . . "If you're on a bus commuting . . . or train . . . that would be a situation where I think masks should still be worn by everyone." Image: RNZ Montage

RNZ News

Epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker says Aotearoa New Zealand is experiencing its fourth wave of covid-19 infection and warns people to stay vigilant.

He said it was not as intense as the previous waves but it was definite, with a gradual rise in the number of self-reported cases every day, as seen in RNZ’s ongoing database of covid-19 information.

 

“It’s the first distinct rise, a sustained rise in cases this year.

“We’ve seen that numbers reached a low point in February and have been tracking up since then.”

The average number of daily cases sits at about 2000 at the moment, but Professor Baker said the actual number could be higher with people less inclined to test and report.

He said other indicators including the number of hospitalisations, people in intensive care units, deaths and traces of the virus in wastewater were also pointing to a new wave.

He encouraged people to get the new covid booster, isolate if they were infected, and mask up in poorly ventilated environments.

“It’s really important that everyone who has a position in authority thinks about the health of their workforce and their school population and the social venues that they operate in.”

 

Professor Baker also said that the Ministry of Education should provide monitors to reduce transmission in early childhood centres.

He also encouraged people to mask up on public transport.

“If you’re on a bus commuting … or train, you are going to be in that indoor environment for many hours every week and the ventilation is poor, so that would be a situation where I think masks should still be worn by everyone.”

Last week, cabinet decided to keep the few remaining covid-19 restrictions for at least the next two months.

Most pandemic rules have been scrapped, but people still have to self-isolate for seven days if they test positive, and masks must be worn in hospitals in some circumstances.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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