March 21, 2022
Schools hit by Omicron surge
Health experts are questioning the decision to try to keep schools open in the current stage of the Omicron surge.
There was a 40 per cent rise in reported school infections over the course of last week, and three in four New Zealand schools are dealing with active Covid-19 cases.
The Education Ministry’s response has been to give schools greater access to rapid antigen tests.
Epidemiologist Dr Amanda Kvalsvig from the University of Otago, Wellington, says it’s the country’s most serious infectious disease outbreak in 100 years, and Omicron can cause long term harm to children’s health.
She’s urging a whānau-centred approach, including more flexible arrangements that enable whānau to keep children at home when local case numbers are high.
She also wants to see a well-resourced Māori- and Pasifika-led approach to vaccination against Covid-19 and other childhood infections, including influenza, to improve vaccination coverage before the winter season.