26 Jan 2021

Covid-19: Uncontrolled outbreak of new variant would need a new Alert Level 4 lockdown - Hendy

From Morning Report, 7:38 am on 26 January 2021

A leading modeller of the pandemic says an uncontrolled outbreak of a new variant of Covid-19 in New Zealand would warrant an shift to Alert Level 4.

Professor Shaun Hendy says any uncertainty over the size or status of a such a cluster should force the government to immediately adopt the strictest control methods.

He says the virus is evolving in a potent way, with all the current evidence pointing to quicker transmission from variants such as that which has emerged in the Northland community this week.

Professor Hendy told Morning Report if another outbreak like the August outbreak in Auckland occured and involved a new variant of the disease a harsher lockdown would be needed to control it.

"The sort of restrictions we used last year in August and Auckland wouldn't be as effective in containing the outbreak [if it were a different variant]."

He said the current situation in Northland isn't likely to require such measures though, as at this stage it can easily be linked to the border.