Luke Pilkinton-Ching, Prof Michael Baker, Prof Nick Wilson
In this photo-essay of the COVID-19 pandemic in Aotearoa/NZ, each photo is accompanied by a brief comment on the pandemic impact or response. In some instances these images reflect success factors such as the relatively early introduction of border controls and the stringent nature of the “lockdown”. But we also consider some weaknesses: the slow adoption of mandated mass mask use and the recent run of eight border control failures.
Nick Wilson,1 Ayesha Verrall,1,2 Len Cook,3 Alistair Gray,3 Amanda Kvalsvig,1 Michael Baker,1 (1epidemiologists, 2infectious disease physician, 3statisticians)
In this blog we raise ideas for how New Zealand might optimise testing to both identify cases in the community as part of the COVID-19 elimination strategy, and to confirm when the virus has been completely eliminated from the country. These are urgent issues to clarify in order to minimise time spent under lockdown conditions and allow the economy and health system to return to more normal functioning. The priority is to continue testing symptomatic people, with the sensitivity of case detection expanded by steadily broadening the case definition and ensuring wide geographic and demographic coverage. After that, testing to assess the elimination goal could involve testing of higher-risk exposed groups, potentially using pooled specimens and serology, along with sewage testing.
Dr Matt Boyd, Prof Michael Baker, Prof Nick Wilson
The Global Health Security Index which considers pandemic threats has just been published. Unfortunately NZ scores approximately half marks (54/100), coming in 35th in the world rankings – far behind Australia. This poor result suggests that the NZ Government needs to act promptly to upgrade the country’s defences against pandemic threats.