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.
Prof Nick Wilson, Dr Jennifer Summers, Dr Amanda Kvalsvig, Prof Michael Baker*
In this blog we summarise the results of modelling for an Omicron variant outbreak of Covid-19 in NZ by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation. This work suggests that in an outbreak that begins in January, the number of cases in hospital might peak at 2,790 (95%CI: 120 to 9,070) in early March 2022. Cumulative additional deaths might be 400 by 1 May, near the end of the outbreak (peaking at 10 deaths per day [95%CI: 0 to 50]). While there are various limitations and uncertainties with all such modelling, our impression is that this work is of high quality and should be considered by NZ policy-makers. But other factors, such as the social and economic disruption from such an Omicron outbreak, should also be important considerations in guiding preparations and preventive measures.
Prof Michael Baker, Dr Jennifer Summers, Dr Amanda Kvalsvig, Dr Matire Harwood, Prof Nick Wilson*
In this blog we summarise how Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ) could improve preparations for a likely national outbreak of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 to minimise harms to health and the economy. The first urgent priority is to increase measures to delay the arrival of the Omicron variant to give more preparation time. We also need to consider an explicit shift from the current suppression strategy to mitigation. A clear mitigation strategy will favour adjustments to existing public health and social measures to ‘flatten the curve’ and minimise the risk of health service overload and social and economic disruptions.
Dr Belinda Loring, Dr Ruth Cunningham, Dr Polly Atatoa Carr*
Public health activities have collectively made an incredible contribution to minimising the impact of COVID-19 in Aotearoa. But the work for public health is not over. As the situation in Auckland heralds a transition point in our approach to the pandemic, the challenge now is to be bold and clear about how we prioritise our public health resources and effort going forwards to the activities that will make the greatest impact on protecting and improving population health.