May 26, 2020
Dr Rawiri Taonui | COVID Māori Weekly Update 26 May | Level 2 Second Wave
COVID Māori Weekly Update 26 May | Level 2 Second Wave
Dr Rawiri Taonui
THE NEW ZEALAND SITUATION
The main figures inspire confidence that New Zealand has gained a good degree of control over COVID-19.
- There are 13 ZERO days of new cases since 4 May.
- All new cases over the last two weeks have come from existing clusters.
- There have been no new Māori cases for 19 days.
- Māori have had 34 ZERO days of new cases for Māori since 12 April.
- There have been no new Pacific cases for 11 days.
- Pacific have had 26 ZERO days of new cases since 3 April
Recovered and Active Cases
- 1461 or 96.8% of all cases have recovered.
- There have been less than 50 Active Cases for 11 days.
- There are just 22 Active Cases across New Zealand.
- 14 of 20 DHBs have no active cases.
- Four of the other seven DHBs have less than three active cases.
- 13 of 20 DHBs have not reported any new cases for 4 weeks or more.
- Only one or two DHBs could have any active cases by the end of this week.
The positive numbers encourage confidence that there is no undetected community transmission.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the limit for all social gatherings, including cinemas, pubs, restaurants, funerals, tangihanga and churches will rise to 100. This is a good decision. The earlier Level 2 limits were poorly judged and unbalanced. The change comes this Friday, which gives three more days to achieve further control over COVID-19.
Cabinet will meet on 8 June in two weeks to revisit and if necessary ‘tweak’ the indices for Level 2. Two weeks after that on 22 June, they will meet again and decide about moving to Level 1. The timetable is wise because it allows New Zealand to gain further control over COVID-19, achieve absolute ZERO Active Cases before changing levels, and reduces the chance of a Second Wave.
New National Party Leader Todd Muller says the government should move to re-open the country more quickly. That would be foolish. The government’s planned control of COVID-19 is working. A deviation from the current timetable risks the health and lives of New Zealanders. We need to keep to the timetable.
During the Spanish Flu of 1918, most deaths occurred in a second wave during November-December four to six weeks after the disease first struck New Zealand. Yesterday, the WHO warned that although the international rise of the COVID-19 is slowing, the highly contagious nature of the disease means there is an ever-present risk of a second spike. The following are key factors in averting a second wave.
Another reason we need to keep to the timetable is that 13 ZERO days is not victory over COVID-19. Other countries with three or four weeks or more of ZERO new cases have had second waves of the diseases.
Large Urban DHBs
The large urban DHBS of Waitematā, Auckland, Counties-Manukau, Waikato, and Canterbury are the most likely location of new cases. Each has reported new cases within the last 16 days. This is a risk to our large Māori and Pacific communities in places like South Auckland. The further secondary risk is transmission via inter-regional travel. New Zealand might have considered opening inter-regional travel later.
One or more cycles of an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19 infecting another asymptomatic person means the disease could spread for two to three weeks or more before it was detected.
Border Control & Repatriation
Currently, there are 2,000 repatriated New Zealanders in isolation or quarantine as part of our border controls. Our border controls are working and in the absence of a vaccine, our borders should remain secure for many more months.
The Ministry of Health has not updated testing figures for ethnicity since 9 May. There has been concern about under-testing in some areas, particularly MidCentral and Nelson-Marlborough, although after pressure from locals, there is work that those DHBs have moved to fill the gaps in their data.
There are now 405,000 New Zealanders registered on the Government NZ COVID Tracer app, with 15,500 QR-code posters downloaded and displayed by local businesses. This is 25% of businesses considered as ‘active’, predominantly hospitality venues and retail outlets.
Māori have expressed concerns about the app on older phones, families with one phone and signal strength in remote areas. Those are all valid concerns. Concern has been expressed about privacy. This is well covered. Information is stored on phones and is automatically removed after 31 days.
The app is just one of many strategies. More than 50 countries now require mandatory face mask-wearing in public places. This is especially important in the large urban centres where most cases have been found. Beyond that, with parties and pubs and more social gatherings, complacency is the main risk. Social distancing, handwashing, keeping a wash station at home and mask-wearing are the key personal strategies.
Noho haumaru, stay safe and self-sovereign, Dr Rawiri Taonui.
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