Change in alert levels will depend on links between cases, doctor says

By Jessica Tyson

Today New Zealanders find out whether Auckland will move down a level at 4pm after more than a month of level four restrictions.

Northern Region Health Coordination Centre clinical director Dr Anthony Jordan says the decision could be based on whether the new cases are linked.

“We've always talked about the fact that it's not just the number of cases. It's also about whether those cases have established links, how long they were infectious in the community and all of those aspects are probably much more informative in deciding whether we can step down one level,” Jordan says.

Yesterday, there was a bump in the road, with three people in Waikato, returning positive Covid-19 tests, bringing the total number of new cases to 27 and posing questions about whether Waikato will now join Tāmaki Makaurau in lockdown.

“Once we've done those case interviews and we have clear links between how it got into that area, that's going to establish what we need to do in terms of what approach Waikato, Tainui has to take on board in terms of joining us in Tamaki. So I wouldn't really wait for those interviews before we made the decision.”

More than 50 percent of eligible Māori have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. Meanwhile, 25 percent are fully vaccinated.

“I would be much happier if they were higher, but what I am definitely happy about is the increasing numbers of Maori coming forward to get vaccinated," Jordan says.

“Over the past four weeks, we've seen those numbers go from as low as 2,500, now up to almost 13,000 a week. So that's really, really impressive to see people stepping forward to protect themselves and their whānau.”

If Auckland doesn’t go down to level 3 today, he encourages Aucklanders to not want to give up.

“Stay the course. As you're approaching the end line, don't quit the race. We're so close to ending it. This is the bit where we have to be really, really disciplined and do that last sprint to the finish line because ultimately what we do now will save us months in the future of going back and lockdown, he says.

“So kia kaha everyone, not far to go to.”