Julie Bennett, Philippa Anderson, Sarah Donovan, Amanda Kvalsvig, Alison Leversha, Subhadra Rajanaidu, and Jin Russell*
Aotearoa New Zealand is in a major Omicron outbreak. With Covid-19 cases doubling every few days, what opportunities are there to strengthen the mitigation approaches in early education settings? In this blog we discuss what is needed to protect this group of children and their whānau as we navigate the next phases of the Covid-19 outbreak. There remains substantial scope for further risk reduction measures, especially relating to improving ventilation, increasing outdoor activities and appropriate mask use.
Amanda Kvalsvig, Nick Wilson, Carmen Timu-Parata, Belinda Tuari-Toma, Jennifer Summers, Cheryl Davies, Constanza Jackson, Julie Bennett, and Michael G. Baker*
Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ) is likely to soon be experiencing widespread community transmission caused by the Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In this blog we outline what is needed to protect the health and wellbeing of children (ie, those under 18 years) in this outbreak. Key principles include taking a whānau-centred, not a school system-centred approach; actively addressing inequities in risk and impact; and taking a precautionary approach to potential long-term harms. Māori leadership at policy and community level will be needed to ensure that children will be safe in all settings during an Omicron outbreak.
Dr Amanda Kvalsvig, Dr Julie Bennett, Dr Jin Russell, Dr Jennifer Summers, Dr Leah Grout, Prof Michael Baker, and Prof Nick Wilson*
As much of the country moves down Alert Levels, children are returning to in-person learning with little or no protection against the potential spread of Covid-19 infection in schools. It is therefore critical that ventilation is improved in schools; it is often as easy as opening windows, but ultimately new standards and improved resourcing are required. Ventilation is a valuable protection that works well in combination with other pandemic control measures such as vaccination and mask use, with additional benefits for improving children’s learning and concentration.
Dr Amanda Kvalsvig, Prof Nick Wilson, Dr Amanda D’Souza, Prof Michael Baker
In this blog we consider the ‘Auckland August cluster’ in the light of the changing landscape of international evidence about COVID-19 risk for children and young people. The high proportion of Pasifika children and young people in the Auckland outbreak may be a preview of what an uncontrolled COVID-19 pandemic would look like in Aotearoa New Zealand. There is an urgent need to improve coordination of child-centred policy in the COVID-19 response with better Māori and Pasifika representation in decision-making at all levels. Immediate actions include mandating mask use for secondary-age children at Alert Levels 2 and 3 and encouraging primary-age children to make and use masks.