A Covid-19 modeler says that a promising link connecting the Auckland group to the border means that the outbreak could be significantly smaller than initially feared.
Genome sequencing has found that the current positive cases closely match those of a recent returnee from Sydney, who arrived on a managed flight in the red zone on 7 August.
Professor Shaun Hendy said that means the number of people infected in the community at the time the outbreak was first detected may now be “several dozen.”
“This was really positive news. The news that there is a potential genomic link to a recent returnee really changes our perspective,” Hendy said.
“Obviously, there is still work to be done to really make that connection; we still don’t have an epidemiological link to that returnee, but certainly the genomic evidence is pretty strong circumstantial evidence …
“But certainly the genomic evidence is quite strong circumstantial evidence and the best news is the recent returnee, it means that if it comes from that person, the virus has been in the community for a much shorter time than we thought yesterday and that will bring our estimates of numbers. “
At the time the Alert Level 4 lockdown was announced Tuesday night, Health Director General Dr. Ashley Bloomfield said people should prepare so that the number of infected people in the community is 50 to 120.
Hendy said it now looked like the number would be significantly less than that, estimating it could be “well below 100 cases.”
“The best news is that it is that recent returnee; it means that if it comes from that person, the virus has been in the community for a much shorter time than we thought yesterday,” he said.
“And that will lower our estimates of numbers and make this group easier to contain.”
Hendy said the modeling would be rerun this afternoon and that people could expect to get the updated numbers later today.
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Kia Kaha – Stay strong