Plea to keep scanning QR codes

Southern health authorities are pleading with people to resume scanning Covid-19 QR codes as a matter of routine.

Public health officials have become increasingly alarmed at the level of Covid-19 complacency in the community, and warn it may be too late to suddenly start scanning if a community transmission case of the pandemic disease is reported.

"Please don’t wait until the next community case to start scanning again — if there is a case discovered today, we may need to know the places you visited in the past 14 days,” Southern District Health Board medical officer of health Michael Butchard said.

"If we have a community case of one of the new variants it could spread very quickly, and unless we know where the public have been and who they have been with, it will be extremely hard to contain."

There have been no new community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand for 63 days, but overseas new, more transmissible, strains of the disease have sent case numbers rocketing.

Data from Johns Hopkins University released over the weekend said while it took more than six months for the world to report its first 500,000 Covid-19 deaths, it took just six weeks for the most recent half a million deaths to be recorded.

Britain on Saturday alone recorded a further 1295 deaths and 41,000 new cases, while the United States reported 247,000 new cases and 3683 further deaths.

New Zealand yesterday reported 10 new cases in managed isolation or quarantine, the first case update since new regulations were introduced to mandate pre-departure Covid-19 testing for passengers travelling to this country from Britain and the US.

SDHB chief medical officer Nigel Millar said most people would struggle to remember where they were 14 days ago, and using the contact tracing app would provide invaluable information should Covid-19 once more make its way into the community.

"I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep a record of where you have been and who you have been with," he said.

“We’re at a critical point, and we all need to work together to keep New Zealand free of Covid-19 in the community.

"I’m extremely concerned that the public are not doing this simple thing (scanning) to help keep us all safe, and potentially avoid another lockdown.”

New Zealanders have enjoyed a restriction-free summer while most of the rest of the world has been in various stages of lockdown.

New Zealand has not yet started rolling out recently-developed Covid-19 vaccines, which meant the country was more vulnerable to a new community outbreak than it realised, Dr Millar said.

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