22 Jul 2020

Auckland's Covid contact tracing capacity only half what it should be

6:44 am on 22 July 2020

Auckland's Covid contact tracing capacity is about half what it needs to be, with nine days until the deadline to have it up to scratch.

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Photo: 123RF

But the Auckland Regional Public Health Service said it would be ready by the end of the month.

The Ministry of Health has said the service must be able to trace the contacts of 177 cases a day by July as part of its plan to have the country able to trace 500 cases a day.

The service's director, William Rainger, had earlier called that an "absolutely phenomenal number" which would be a challenge to deliver.

But, it could now trace 90 a day - more than double the amount of cases the city had at the height of the outbreak, he said in a statement.

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A Covid-19 response unit was established last month to monitor and trace incidences of the disease long term, he said.

"The unit operates seven days a week and includes a core group of permanent staff, with capacity to scale up as required in response to a surge in new cases in Auckland," Dr Rainger said.

The unit included Māori and Pacific contact tracing teams, and could access interpreters for other languages quickly, he said.

A report into the country's public health units by contact tracing expert Ayesha Verrall at the end of the lockdown found many could not trace enough contacts to successfully stamp out any flare-ups.

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