16 Mar 2020

Covid-19: Lessons from Swine Flu pandemic

From Morning Report, 6:15 am on 16 March 2020

The man who led New Zealand's response to the last global pandemic says buying time is critical to how the disease will impact on New Zealand.

Mark Jacobs was the director of public health during the 2009 Swine Flu epidemic in which 49 people in New Zealand died and more than 1100 were hospitalised. Thousands more stayed away from work and school to keep the disease from spreading before it was accepted there was uncontained community transmission.

Dr Jacobs is now the World Health Organisation representative to Laos which borders China.

The pandemic plan used then is still the basis of the health ministry's plan but Dr Jacobs told RNZ health correspondent Rowan Quinn there are some key diffences between swine flu and Covid-19.