News of two Covid-positive cases in Christchurch may make it seem that the pandemic has overcome New Zealand – but this need not be the case quite yet, says Ōtago University public health expert Professor Nick Wilson.
Two unvaccinated people who had travelled from Auckland, where Covid is spreading through the community, tested positive for the virus in Christchurch on Thursday.
Health officials said the pair had not been good users of the Covid tracer app and one of the people had been unwell for two weeks.
But Wilson said this did not mean it was a done deal that the virus would spread through the rest of the country.
* Covid-19: Opening Auckland border at 90 per cent target amid Delta outbreak ‘unwise’, experts say
* Covid-19: Cases ‘will continue to rise’ after highest daily number recorded
* ‘No vaccine, no flying’: Airline passengers should be vaccinated, experts say
Taiwan and the Australian states of Queensland and Tasmania were all examples of success stories of either tackling the highly-contagious Delta variant of the virus, or simply keeping it out, Wilson said.
Wellington too had Delta in the community and dodged the bullet. Seventeen cases in the capital in August were tied to the still ongoing Auckland outbreak but that is where Wellington number stopped. Northland and Coromandel also managed to have the virus and keep it in check.
Wilson said the aim had to be to keep the virus contained until vaccination numbers reached higher levels, and preferably with the vaccine approved for five-to-11 years olds.
“We really should be trying much harder to stop it spreading,” Wilson said, adding the Government should be doing more to protect the borders between areas of community transmission and those without.
Wellington City councillor Jill Day, chair of the social, cultural and economic Committee, said it was still possible to keep the virus out of Wellington, at least until vaccination numbers increased.
“The cases in Christchurch are a timely reminder that Covid will come to Wellington,” Day said. “It’s a race against the clock and the virus. We must all scan, wear masks and socially distance.”
She encouraged people in the Wellington region to do their bit. “This is the time to have those difficult conversations with family and friends who are worried about getting the vaccine,” she said. “We are all in this together.”