5 Oct 2021

Covid-19: NZ will be dealing with virus in the community for quite some time now - Hendy

From Morning Report, 7:24 am on 5 October 2021

Covid-19 modeller Shaun Hendy says it's increasingly unlikely Auckland's Covid-19 outbreak will be stamped out, and the country will be dealing with Covid-19 in the community for a while now.

He told Morning Report the increase in the numbers allowed in gatherings in Auckland is likely to increase the spread of Covid-19, but not by very much.

From midnight two households can now meet up as long as it is outside and there are no more than ten people.

Shaun Hendy says it's still absolutely crucial to get more people vaccinated.

"If people don't pick up the vaccination, or, if we don't manage to get that next 10 to 20 percent of people vaccinated, then from time to time we are going to have to put in restrictions to control outbreaks."

Hendy said the chances of the current outbreak being stamped out with the new restrictions are low.

"It's looking increasingly unlikely. I mean, we've we had to go under level 4 and we weren't able to do that, we've had to go under our full level 3 and weren't able to," he said

"Certainly, easing these restrictions will make it more challenging. It's, it's still possible, but our chances of being able to do that are diminishing."

With that in mind he said there is little chance of returning to level 1 for quite some time.

"We're going to have to be dealing with Covid in the community for some time now. That does mean not going back to level 1, it might not mean being completely in level 2, I think the government with its plan it's signalling that it's prepared to start changing the package of public health measures that are going to be used," he said.

"So, we'll see something like a relaxation over the next few months, hopefully, as vaccination rates climb, and maybe the old alert level system will be put back on the shelf and we'll have to deal with new kinds of restrictions.

"In phase both things might include vaccine mandates in certain occupations and a lot of businesses will be looking at that as well for their workplaces."

Hendy said current vaccination rates have cut transmission by around 50 percent.