Dr Leah Grout, Prof Nick Wilson, Dr Jennifer Summers, Dr Amanda Kvalsvig, Prof Michael Baker*
Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ’s) Covid-19 Alert Level system worked well in early 2020, but the Covid-19 landscape has changed, and the system must be updated to address the threat of the highly transmissible Delta variant and future variants. The country is using lockdowns (Auckland currently at Alert Level 4, with the rest of the country at Alert Level 3) to eliminate community transmission. As NZ plans moves down the Alert Levels in coming weeks, now is the time to upgrade Alert Level 2 to ensure it is fit for purpose. Key improvements are mask use in all indoor environments, and creating a Level 2+ that keeps the highest risk indoor environments closed while the risk of virus circulation is elevated.
Dr Tim Chambers and Professor Simon Hales
This week a report, co-funded by Fonterra and MBIE, investigated the relative contributions of nitrate in our diet from water and food. The report comes in response to emerging epidemiological evidence observing nitrate in drinking water as a risk factor for colorectal cancer. In separate public statements, the authors concluded “it is highly unlikely that nitrates in drinking water or the diet present an increased risk of cancer.” In this blog, we explain why the evidence in this report is not sufficient to draw these conclusions by highlighting some key limitations.
Aotearoa New Zealand has been a world leader in the smokefree arena and is doubling down on its efforts to reach the 2025 goal. This blog asks if is enough to aim just for smokefree or whether Te Tiriti o Waitangi demands we aim higher and eliminate vaping also.
Dr Jennifer Summers, Prof Nick Wilson, Dr Leah Grout, Dr Amanda Kvalsvig, Prof Michael Baker *
The first Delta-variant outbreak in the community brings a new challenge to Aotearoa New Zealand’s COVID-19 response. A Delta outbreak was in some respects a likely scenario given the high infectiousness of this variant and the emerging evidence that vaccines may be less effective at preventing Delta transmission compared with the original strain of the pandemic virus. In this blog we discuss public health responses employed in other jurisdictions in response to the Delta variant that may be beneficial in controlling the current Delta outbreak in NZ and strengthening NZ’s COVID-19 response in future.
Dr Leah Grout, Prof Nick Wilson, Dr Julie Bennett, Dr Jennifer Summers, Dr Amanda Kvalsvig, Prof Michael Baker *
The importance of indoor aerosol transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 is increasingly recognised. In addition to public health measures such as masking and physical distancing, further protections are needed to prevent the spread of the virus. Interventions to improve ventilation and filtration are needed for indoor settings in Aotearoa NZ. In this blog we address the particular need to improve ventilation in three settings: (i) homes with contacts who are self-isolating; (ii) indoor workplaces that have essential workers; and (iii) MIQ facilities.