Dr Jennifer Summers, Prof Nick Wilson, Dr Lucy Telfar Barnard, Dr Julie Bennett, Dr Amanda Kvalsvig, Prof Michael Baker*
In this blog we briefly explore the experience of the Covid-19 pandemic in several high-income Asia-Pacific jurisdictions: Australia, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ). These jurisdictions used a mixture of elimination and suppression strategies to achieve low infection and mortality rates until the arrival of the Omicron variant which has forced a revised approach. Based on a comparison of responses we provide updated recommendations for the NZ Government around strengthening existing public health measures to reduce the immediate and long-term impacts from Covid-19.
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.
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 Amanda Kvalsvig, Dr Anna Brooks, Prof Nick Wilson, Dr Julie Bennett, Dr Jennifer Summers, Carmen Timu-Parata, Dr Cervantée Wild, Belinda Tuari-Toma, Constanza Jackson, Prof Michael Baker*
Longer-term (or ‘post-acute effects’) of Covid-19 in children (including multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children [MIS-C] and long Covid) are well-described. But there is a lack of robust evidence about the prevalence of these conditions. In this blog we summarise findings from a rapid review of the evidence. These findings indicate to us the need for a precautionary approach in Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ) with greater efforts to prevent children from being infected during the current Omicron outbreak. Protections for children could include improvements to ventilation, mask use, and vaccine equity, and a lower threshold for closing schools and early childhood facilities with greater support for temporary home learning when community transmission is high.
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.