Why NZ should consider adopting “mass masking” as an additional step to speed elimination of the Covid-19 pandemic

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020 | tedla55p | 13 Comments

Dr Ling Chan, Dr Sophie Febery

Widespread public mask use is common in some Asian countries as a control measure in the current Covid-19 pandemic. There is some suggestive laboratory and epidemiological evidence of benefit for such mask use. Since the costs of mass masking are relatively low and there are no apparent substantial down-sides, it should be given serious consideration by the NZ Government to speed progress towards the elimination goal.

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Science-informed policy: considerations in support of judicious, circumspect changes to Aotearoa/NZ alert levels during the COVID-19 pandemic

Saturday, April 18th, 2020 | Nick Wilson | No Comments

Prof John D Potter (Centre for Public Health Research, Massey University)

There are a number of characteristics of the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus and the COVID-19 pandemic that make deciding when and how to change the rules regarding lock-down and physical distancing less than straightforward. In this very brief commentary, these considerations do not include the pressures from those who are more concerned with the economy than with human individual, whanau, and population health.

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We need rapid progress on digital solutions to help eliminate COVID-19 from New Zealand

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020 | tedla55p | No Comments

Dr Tim Chambers, Prof Nick Wilson, Prof Michael Baker

In this blog we discuss some of the emerging technologies New Zealand could adopt to support the country’s COVID-19 elimination strategy. We argue for the prioritisation of technologies to assist with contact tracing, border controls, early diagnosis and surveillance. These technologies present major benefits for the collective effort against COVID-19 and can also strengthen our preparedness for future pandemics. Nevertheless, they also present major challenges related to privacy, public acceptability and coordination that must be overcome if these innovations are to make substantial contributions to the pandemic response.

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Changes in mobility in response to the COVID-19 pandemic: NZ vs other countries and the stories it suggests

Sunday, April 12th, 2020 | Nick Wilson | 1 Comment

Dr Matt Boyd, Prof Michael Baker, Prof Nick Wilson

In this blog we compare recent Google mobility data for New Zealand and a range of other countries in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The data show the massive behavioural changes that have occurred in New Zealand (73% overall mobility reduction and 90% reduction in one category), which give support to the feasibility of the elimination goal being achievable in this country. The data for other jurisdictions reveals problematic stories for Italy and Sweden, but more favourable ones for Switzerland, Taiwan and South Korea. The latter two settings demonstrate how rapid and early use of various disease control measures may even allow for avoidance of lock-down measures.  Continue reading

COVID-19 and Māori health – when equity is more than a word

Friday, April 10th, 2020 | tedla55p | 3 Comments

Dr Paula King,1 Dr Donna Cormack,2,1 Dr Melissa McLeod,3 Associate Professor Ricci Harris,1 Dr Jason Gurney,3 (1Te Rōpū Rangahau Hauora a Eru Pōmare, University of Otago; 2Te Kupenga Hauora Māori, The University of Auckland; 3Department of Public Health, University of Otago).

As Māori academics, researchers and health professionals, we are extremely concerned about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our whānau and communities. We are also worried by the inadequate focus on Māori health equity in pandemic planning within the health and disability system, and in the whole-of-government ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. And we are troubled by the local proliferation of commentaries on COVID-19 within multiple fora that either intentionally ignore the existence of health inequities within our society, frame equity as an add-on to a substantial list of other ‘equally’ important principles, or demonstrate “nonperformativity”1 in reference to equity. Saying, ‘equity is important’ is different from actually making equity important via intentional actions to achieve it.

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