Dr Jennifer Summers, Professor Michael Baker, Professor Nick Wilson*
In this blog we review the impact of Aotearoa NZ’s Covid-19 response strategies on mortality patterns during the first 2 years of the pandemic. We find that NZ experienced an increase in life expectancy, decreased winter mortality, and net decline in (excess) mortality. These impacts are far more positive than experienced by all other high-income countries during this pandemic period. This picture supports the cautious elimination and suppression strategies used for the first 2 years of the pandemic and there has also been time to prepare the country for the current Omicron wave.
Dr Ian Longley and Dr Julie Bennett*
Poor ventilation in indoor settings is widely recognised as a risk factor for the airborne transmission of the virus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes Covid-19. Virus-laden aerosols can remain airborne for hours in indoor spaces with low levels of ventilation. In this blog, we discuss how to use carbon dioxide (CO2) measures as a proxy for estimating the level of ventilation in a building and to guide ventilation improvements in schools and workplaces.
Prof Mark Jermy, Dr Julie Bennett, Dr Jason Chen, Phoebe Taptiklis and Dr Caroline Shorter*
Indoor environments increase the risk of transmission for the virus that causes Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2) by containment and concentration of the airborne virus. However, to reduce such transmission, the particles that carry the virus can be diluted by bringing in as much outdoor air as possible. When good ventilation is not possible, air purifiers can be used as an additional preventative measure to reduce the number of virus-laden particles. Ventilation and purification of indoor air needs to be used alongside public health measures, such as vaccination, staying home when unwell and mask use. This blog outlines some basic principles of using air purifiers to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission.
Dr Rachel Webb, Dr Jin Russell, Dr Pip Anderson, Dr Emma Best, Dr Alison Leversha and Dr Subha Rajanaidu*
In this blog we describe the range of urgent measures that are needed to facilitate a safe return to schools in Auckland and other regions of the country where there is ongoing community transmission of COVID-19. These include very high vaccination coverage of staff and eligible students, improved ventilation in schools, mask guidance and physical distancing. A premature return to on-site learning in schools, particularly in areas of Auckland with low vaccination uptake, and current community cases, may contribute to further transmission of COVID-19, with devastating health and wellbeing outcomes for children, young people and their families.
The COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2020 (‘Covid Act’) expires on 13 May 2022. A further time-limited legal framework will be needed to support Covid policy. A new Bill will require public submissions and thorough consideration by a parliamentary select committee. The Government should begin discussions now with relevant groups, so that the new Bill is ready for introduction in February 2022.