Dr Amanda Kvalsvig, Prof Michael Baker, Dr Jennifer Summers, Dr Lucy Telfar Barnard, Dr Andrew Dickson, Dr Julie Bennett, Carmen Timu-Parata, Prof Nick Wilson
Kvalsvig A, Baker M, Summers J, Telfar Barnard L, Dickson A, Bennett J, Timu-Parata C, Wilson N. The urgent need for a Covid-19 Action Plan for Schools in Aotearoa New Zealand. Public Health Expert Blog. 20 May 2022. https://blogs.otago.ac.nz/pubhealthexpert/the-urgent-need-for-a-covid-19-action-plan-for-schools-in-aotearoa-new-zealand/
At the onset of the Omicron outbreak in Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ) in early 2022, the Government announced a policy for schools that was essentially a business-as-usual approach, advising that schools would stay open through the outbreak. However, protections to prevent Covid-19 transmission were incomplete and there have been significant adverse consequences for school communities. NZ’s pandemic policy for schools needs to pivot to a whānau-centred approach that takes in-school transmission seriously. As winter arrives, NZ should urgently introduce a Covid-19 Action Plan for Schools to support children’s access to education and to protect children, school staff, and their families from Covid-19 and from the return of other winter respiratory infections.
A/Prof Ben Gray*
Gray B. Government funding of interpreters in Primary Care is needed to ensure quality care. Public Health Expert Blog.18 May 2022. https://blogs.otago.ac.nz/pubhealthexpert/government-funding-of-interpreters-in-primary-care-is-needed-to-ensure-quality-care/
The pandemic has highlighted many problems in the NZ health system. This blog will address the question of availability of interpreters for people with limited English proficiency (LEP). This is now funded within hospitals. It is funded in Primary Care in Auckland and Nelson but not other regions. It became clear that interpreters were needed to enable Primary Care to look after Covid-19 patients in the community and the Ministry of Health has provided central funding throughout the country for this purpose. If it is acknowledged that funded interpreters are needed for Covid-19 patients, why are they not available for other conditions?
Dr Jennifer Summers, Professor Michael Baker, Professor Nick Wilson*
Summers J, Baker M, Wilson N. Covid-19 Case-Fatality Risk & Infection-Fatality Risk: important measures to help guide the pandemic response. Public Health Expert Blog. 11 May 2022. https://blogs.otago.ac.nz/pubhealthexpert/covid-19-case-fatality-risk-infection-fatality-risk-important-measures-to-help-guide-the-pandemic-response/
In this blog we explore two useful mortality indicators: Case-Fatality Risk (CFR) and Infection-Fatality Risk (IFR). We estimate the cumulative CFR in Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ) to be around 0.08%, which is lower than other jurisdictions who have used elimination approaches in the past, such as Australia, Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The cumulative number of Covid-19 infections in NZ is not known, but if we assume it is ~50%, the IFR would sit at ~0.03%. We recommend that the NZ Government improve Covid-19 surveillance in order to improve estimates of CFR, IFR and other key indicators to help guide future decisions around control measures.
Dr Matt Boyd & Prof Nick Wilson* (Syndicated from the Adapt Research Blog)
Efforts to prevent nuclear war should be greatly intensified – but we must also consider what happens if prevention fails. NZ is often cited as somewhere most likely to preserve a thriving society through a nuclear aftermath. However, our society is a complex adaptive system heavily dependent on trade. Major perturbations triggered by nuclear war could shift the state of NZ society from one of flourishing to one of mere survival. We detail these risks of societal failure and conclude with a set of first steps NZ could take to strengthen its societal systems.
Dr Jennifer Summers, Prof Michael Baker, Prof Nick Wilson*
Summers J, Baker M, Wilson N. The Omicron waves – Comparing Aotearoa NZ and Australia in four key graphs. Public Health Expert Blog. 12 April 2022. https://blogs.otago.ac.nz/pubhealthexpert/the-omicron-waves-comparing-aotearoa-nz-and-australia-in-four-key-graphs/
In this blog we explore the first Covid-19 Omicron variant waves in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ). We find that Australia’s first Omicron wave resulted in higher hospitalisation and ICU occupancy compared to NZ. However, when examining the Auckland region compared with the rest of NZ, Auckland’s experience of the first Omicron wave is more severe, with a higher hospitalisation rate. We recommend that the NZ Government does more to prepare for a possible second Omicron wave (as in Australia) and for future variants of concern. Priority areas are increasing vaccination coverage and improving mask use and indoor ventilation.