24 Aug 2021

Australian states provide scenarios for NZ's Covid-19 fate - modeller

11:42 am on 24 August 2021

The next few days are critical in the country's fight against the community spread of the Delta variant, a data modeller says.

A health worker at the Devonport Covid-19 testing station.

A health worker at a testing station in Devonport. File photo Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

Rodney Jones, who also advises the government on Covid-19, said what we are experiencing in New Zealand is an extension of the New South Wales outbreak, so we can look at what is happening around Australia.

In Queensland and ACT the peak was around day seven, he told Morning Report.

Now is "a grey zone" for modellers as the country is in a phase where there is uncertainty if containment measures are going to work.

"We will see that over the next two to three days starting from today."

If level 4 has kicked in it should result in cases dropping under 20 within the next couple of days, Jones said.

The Delta variant moves so fast it makes contact tracing very difficult and the risk is if it starts to affect the communities of essential workers.

"And that's the worry we are in now in Auckland."

While vaccination is ramping up, the country has started behind the eight-ball with a vaccination rate of around 20 percent.

The country is facing three possible pathways:

  • The good path - a lower number from today and a slow decline, although in Queensland the decline started in week 3 of lockdown
  • Numbers are stuck at around 15 to 20 cases a day as is the case in ACT currently and the trend does not seem to be heading to zero
  • NSW and Victoria where cases are continuing to climb relentlessly
  • "Yesterday was a bad day and you don't want to get a string of bad days. That's why I see the next day or two as really critical in guiding us to where we are," Jones said.

    He said the cases announced yesterday were enough justification to keep Auckland in lockdown for another two weeks at least.

    "It set us back so the best hope for Auckland is still two weeks' time [to end lockdown] but that could recede very quickly in the next day or so."

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