NZ has chance to eliminate virus: Specialist

While most Western countries are looking to ‘‘flatten the curve’’ in response to the outbreak of Covid-19, New Zealand could achieve its goal to eliminate the novel coronavirus.

Director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield said 85 new cases of Covid-19, including 76 confirmed cases and nine probable had been detected in New Zealand yesterday, bringing the national total to 368.

Associate Prof James Ussher, of the University of Otago microbiology and immunology department, said New Zealand was ‘‘definitely at a different stage to almost all other Western countries’’ and the Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown presented a unique opportunity.

‘‘Because it’s just an acute infection, where people get sick and then they clear the infection, there’s only a limited window in which the virus can be passed on to other people.

‘‘If we limit the opportunity for the virus to propagate, we can strangle it.

‘‘We can eliminate it, but that relies on people following the guidelines and isolating and not trying to game the system,’’ Prof Ussher said.

‘‘If it fails, then we’d be looking to flatten the curve and we might need ongoing restrictions going forward — what those will look like I guess remains to be determined.

‘‘But if we’re successful, hopefully at some point down the track, whether it be four weeks or a bit longer, we may be able to lift the restrictions — but keep the borders closed.’’

While past pandemic planning was typically based around influenza, the incubation period for Covid-19 was longer.

Some infected people were not displaying symptoms up to 14 days after becoming infected by the new virus.

Despite the Hereford conference cluster, which was ‘‘probably a bit of a super-spreader event’’, most cases were second generation transmissions, which he expected to be occurring over the next four weeks as the number of cases climbed.

‘‘If someone was infectious [on Wednesday] when we were still not in lockdown, then their contacts may have become infected.

‘‘There may have been some community transmission and those people ... may become sick within the next two weeks.

‘‘We will then hopefully pick those people up.

‘‘Even if we don’t pick them up, they will be isolated and they won’t be able to pass it on to anyone else outside their household.’’

Comments

Hope we can strangle the blighter !!!
How good would it be, to be Wuhan Flu free !!!
Then we can get on with our new lives, what ever that will look like.
Interesting to note who the 'new' critical workers are.
Nice to have them so visible for a change and many thanks for you work.
Please stay safe and keep the best practice hygiene going because you are the ones that determine if we can achieve this, while we just sit at home.

"NZ has chance to eliminate virus".
And if we don't, what then ..........

How is eradicating this even possible when we're told the virus doesn't display any symptoms in many victims?

So, If everyone can stay in their bubble (and they don't pass on the SC2 virus, or catch it from elsewhere), then even an asymptomatic person in a bubble will have time to infect all other people over next 2 weeks (probably less time required), then these people will have time to develop symptoms and recover (1 - 4 weeks) - regardless of being mild or severe, symptomatic or asymptomatic.

A 6 week lockdown would be best to ensure near 100% results, so I would think there will be a 2 week extension personally. It's an easier sell by government to enforce 4 weeks upfront, then use bad behaviour as an excuse to extend lockdown.

I also have little faith that all New Zealanders will stick to their bubbles. There are many selfish, poorly educated and arrogant people about. These will be the ones who cost us time, money and lives - the fines for breaking lockdown should be severe and published broadly.

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