Day nine of no new Covid cases

There are no new cases of Covid-19 today, the ninth straight day of no new cases.

The latest Ministry of Health update, released this afternoon, also confirmed that there is still one active case in New Zealand.

There are no Covid patients in hospital and there are no further deaths.

The total number of confirmed cases remains at 1154, and the combined total of confirmed and probable cases remains at 1504.

The number of recovered cases is unchanged at 1481. Only one case remains active and there are no additional deaths to report.

The NZ Covid Tracer app has now recorded 468,000 registrations – an increase of 10,000 since this time yesterday. The Ministry said that using the app will help to identify, trace, test and isolate any cases of Covid-19.

Just over 2000 tests were completed yesterday, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 280,983.

Yesterday the ministry said dozens of Covid-19 community-based testing centres around the country were closing down.

Elimination

New Zealand may need another 20 days of no new cases before Covid-19 can be said to have been eliminated.

Yesterday was the eighth straight day of no new cases, and there was only one remaining active case.

Some public health experts have called for about 28 days of no new cases before the virus is confidently considered to be eliminated - which is also in line with the ministry's elimination strategy.

There have been no signs of community transmission since the beginning of April - almost two months ago.

Cabinet is planning to review the level 2 settings on June 8 and will meet no later than June 22 to consider moving to level 1.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has not said what would need to happen to consider moving D-Day to a date earlier than June 22, but the director general of health's advice will be "fundamental".

One prominent voice calling for a move to level 1 is Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, who says the health risks are outweighed by the need to address the economic devastation.

That general sentiment has been dismissed by top epidemiologist Sir David Skegg: "People who advocate a move to level 1 straight away are either ignorant or indulging in political posturing."

In an article today, the Prime Minister's chief science adviser Professor Juliet Gerrard and research analyst Rachel Chiaroni-Clarke said the chance of successful elimination is now "over 90 percent".

But border measures will likely remain for the foreseeable future to manage any imported cases of Covid-19.

They said several countries had contained the virus well enough for international travel to be considered - with appropriate risk-management.

"All things considered, we can have some cautious optimism that international travel between safe countries will soon start to be possible.

"It will take a carefully managed and nimble process: identifying low-risk countries, monitoring for stable low case numbers, and perhaps testing individuals on arrival."

Countries that might be considered to be safe enough to have open borders with include Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Pacific nations, and China.

They said factors that need to be considered include the prevalence of active cases, the integrity of testing data, the level of community transmission, and each country's control measures.

They pointed to a recent Otago University study that found it would take up to 33 cases to detect 95 percent of outbreaks after importing a case of Covid-19, by which time there would be between one and 68 infected cases in the community.

 

 

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