Saturday, December 4

Shaun Hendy, Covid-19 modeler: ‘We are dealing with a large cluster’


A Covid-19 modeler says he is reasonably confident that New Zealand’s strict level 4 lockdown will be able to control an outbreak of the Delta variant, but cautions that Auckland is likely to be locked in for more than seven days.

Auckland during the level 4 lockdown on 19.8.2021

Auckland on day 2 of the running of the bulls.
Photo: Cam williams

Health authorities announced three new cases last night, bringing the total number of active community cases to 10, and no new cases have been announced overnight yet.

One of the most recently confirmed cases in Auckland is suspected of being infectious more than two weeks ago.

There are now at least 68 sights in Auckland and Coromandel.

Professor Shaun Hendy, who is a Covid-19 modeler at the University of Auckland, said the models suggest there could be around 100 cases in the community, although there is still a lot of uncertainty and new information may change that perspective.

“Obviously, that case that was discovered yesterday for several weeks suggests that we are dealing with a large group and the models suggest that around 100 cases could be out there.”

Hendy said current information shows that the decision to go very quickly to level 4 lockdown was the right one and will have greatly reduced the chance of the virus spreading.

He said that with one group all the case numbers are not seen at once and the daily Covid-19 case numbers inform us about the transmission that took place last week.

“So in the next few days, as we find more cases, we are really starting to tick off maybe 100 cases that exist, but transmission rates will have dropped.”

Hendy said that over the next week people should analyze whether there has been any spread of Covid-19 to essential services, many of which are still in operation.

“What would be really unfortunate is if we started to spread to people who have yet to be away from home, but hopefully we have dodged it and therefore we will start to see the number of cases decrease next week.”

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Shaun Hendy said that there could be around 100 cases of Covid-19 in the community.
Photo: Shaun hendy

Hendy said he is reasonably confident that Alert Level 4 in New Zealand is strict enough to control a Delta outbreak and that knowledge of how Delta can spread can be used to make Level 4 more effective.

“We know that the main root is airborne transmission, aerosol transmission, so that means measures like more widespread use of masks and better social distancing should work very well this time.”

He said that one thing New Zealand could make better use of is faster Covid-19 tests, and while they are not as accurate as the nasal tests that have been used here, they can be done more frequently and the results come back more. Quick.

“That is something we could be looking for for our essential services, certainly our border, once we have this under control, to stop that transmission before it enters the networks of people who are still out there and still have to work together.” .

Auckland lockdown likely to last more than seven days

Hendy said it is quite clear that the lockdown in Auckland is going to last seven more days.

“We are probably not looking at a situation where we can quickly contain and remove this cluster, this will probably take a couple of weeks.”

But he said that in terms of the rest of the country, it will be necessary to wait and see.

“We will get the sewage testing from all over the country, and you know, obviously, people from many other parts of the country, people who have been to Auckland, maybe have been to those places of interest, they will be tested during the next few days and so we will have more information about what will happen in the rest of the country soon.

“However, I think at this stage in Auckland, I think it’s pretty clear that we are going to have a longer lockdown than the initial seven days.”

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This is an official COVID-19 ALERT.

All New Zealand You are now at Covid-19 Alert Level 4.

The alert level will be reviewed after 3 days for all areas EXCEPT Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula, which will likely remain at level 4 for an initial period of 7 days.

A community case of Covid-19 has been identified.

Stay at home whenever possible and follow level 4 alert guidelines. This will stop the spread of COVID-19 and SAVE LIVES.

All are asked to:

Wear a mask and keep a distance of 2 meters from others when you leave your house.

If you are sick, call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice on getting tested.

Keep scanning QR codes every time you leave your home.

Practice good hygiene: wash your hands often.

Services that include supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics and gas stations will remain open at alert level 4. Face covers are mandatory for all people, both employees and customers, in companies and services that operate at alert level 4 that involve contact with the client.

For more information on Alert Level 4, go to [the government website www.covid19.govt.nz]

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