Regional Covid strategies could minimise deaths: Prof Baker

Prof Michael Baker says a three-week interval between Pfizer doses is right. Photo supplied
Prof Michael Baker. Photo supplied
In some parts of New Zealand, Covid-19 won't go away. But in other places, it hasn't had a toehold for nearly a year.

Low chances of stamping out Auckland's Delta variant outbreak mean New Zealand could consider a new regional strategy, University of Otago health expert Professor Michael Baker said.

"A regional approach could be very valuable for New Zealand to minimise the number of cases or deaths," Baker told RNZ this morning.

"That would be, for example, continuing with suppression in Auckland unless we can really eliminate the virus there... and the rest of the country could continue with elimination."

He told Jim Mora a regional approach could greatly help reduce death and illness over the next two months.

Baker said Australian states had a variety of approaches and Tasmania had kept the virus out for more than 500 days.

Baker said this was akin to the situation in the South Island, where no cases had been recorded for more than 300 days.

"It's crazy that we're not trying to protect the South Island," public health expert Professor Nick Wilson told the Herald on Sunday.

He said a proper border should be established around parts of Waikato, which joined Auckland in level 3 a week ago when two cases were discovered.

The Government's "road map" out of Covid was widely panned last week for its apparent lack of clarity or vaccination targets.

A similar debate is brewing across the Tasman.

Queensland's Government is being urged to persuade complacent residents to get vaccinated by setting clear dates to reopen borders with New South Wales and Victoria, where Covid-19 is rampant.

Queensland, like New Zealand, has barely half its eligible adult population fully vaccinated, far behind rates in the more populous southern states.

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