Academic discourages hasty change

Brian Cox.
Brian Cox.
The consequences could be "horrendous" if New Zealand rushes to exit lockdown without sufficient precautions, a University of Otago public health medicine specialist warns.

"I'm a bit concerned that we're starting to talk about getting out of lockdown," Associate Prof Brian Cox said yesterday.

He was worried about growing discussion of exit strategies, given that New Zealand was only about half-way through the planned four-week lockdown.

All countries still lacked a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

"It's extremely serious, if you look at places like New York."

"We need to help each other to stay the course.

"That's a huge challenge — we've got to help everyone — just hang in together."

If New Zealand could stay the course and eliminate the disease, it would bring big long-term economic and trade advantages, if other countries continued to struggle with Covid-19, Prof Cox said.

"There's a potential economic advantage down the track if we can get on top of it now," he said.

Having a strong contact tracing system, able to trace the contacts of infected people extensively and quickly, was also important for the future.

An eventual exit from the Level 4 lockdown would have to be carried out "in a strategic and very careful manner".

All of the country had been placed in Level 4, but beyond the current lockdown, various regions and areas were likely to be subject to different levels’ restrictions.

Those could depend on their recent infection record and their relative vulnerability, such as having many retired residents.

Some areas could go to Level 3 while some other higher risk areas might continue at Level 4.

Some regions of the country, such as Tairawhiti — the Gisborne area in the North Island — and possibly parts of the West Coast, could be candidates to have lower levels of restriction after the lockdown if they had low rates of infection, given their relative geographical isolation.

If some areas were able to operate more normally, they would begin to help other areas of the country because of the importance of the rural economy, he said.

Queenstown was a more complex case because of high previous infection rates, the presence of many retired people, and further difficulties if overseas air links were to be resumed.

Prof Cox said he was was also keen for New Zealand to adopt a new and quicker antibody test, provided it was sufficiently robust and accurate, to complement existing testing and to help provide improved monitoring of the disease history of more people.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

 

Comments

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Yet another public health academic who thinks he's an expert on economics, but actually has no clue. Continuing to shut down our economy brings no economic advantages, in trade or any other area. And it's made worse, not better, by other countries continuing to 'struggle'.

Why is this news? This guy seems to be a cancer epidemiologist and this isn't his area of expertise. This piece sounds like a bit of a moan and a cry for attention from someone who is neither informed nor listened to at a policy level.

It surely doesn't take long for the commentators to moan about "Experts - what do they know?!". People like Brian Cox have studied and worked in their fields for decades. So what if he's 'only' a cancer epidemologist?! He's an epidemologist, for crying out loud. Plus I doubt very much, that you, 'Coker', and you, 'Hurrumph', are experts - as in university level experts with decades of experience - in economics. Somehow I don't think you are.

'Coker' is certainly not, 'Harrumph' is a newbie. There will be no precipitate rush to exit by the government.

We're not 'commentators', Thor. Just people on threads.

As it stands, the cost has been too high to release the country from Level 4 too soon. The public, and the government, have now gone past the 'point of no return'. The achievement of 'eradication' must now be met no matter what.
To exit early would be a gamble, a politically suicidal gamble. The current measures need to be followed through with, any radical back track would reveal an incompetence and possible new outbreak of the virus that the public would not tolerate.
The political fall out from another wrong step.......bares not thinking about. Politically and economically, we're on a knife edge. The coming days and weeks will determine how successful this current path actually is/was. Either way, as a nation, we will definately learn from this, we'll learn about ourselves, and what is actually important to each and every one of us.

We are starting to see that the mortality rate is nowhere near as high as has been reported. NZ has only had one death out of 1250 confirmed cases. Also note that only those who present to hospital, or their contacts, are tested. People with mild or no symptoms have gone under the radar. So the number of cases of Covid will actually be much higher. Covid cases are currently being UNDER reported. Also note that Covid deaths are being OVER reported. If a person died due to a car crash, and they tested positive for covid, then they would be reported as a covid death. A person dying 'because of' is different to a person dying 'with' covid.
Anyway, we can guarantee that only one side of the debate will be presented, ie from this academic with his well paid and safe government job, and only consider the "horrendous" consequences if New Zealand "rushes" to exit lockdown (not the strongly emotive terms used). This same populace will be able to enjoy at their leisure the "horrendous" consequences of 300,000 unemployed and a mountain of debt that will take generations to repay. No consideration is being given to the impact on lives of this state of affairs. Act in haste, repent at leisure.

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