Plans for Alert Level 1 expected today despite researcher reservations

By Jessica Tyson

New Zealanders are expected to find out more about the government's plan today for the move into Alert Level 1.

It comes after 16 days with no new Covid-19 cases. Due to the promising news, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced last week she would consider the move today, earlier than previously indicated.

Already announcements have been made about a lift of restrictions under Level 1, which will allow the national senior kapa haka competition, Te Matatini Herenga Waka Herenga Tāngata, to go ahead in February 2021.

Strict border controls are expected to remain under Alert Level 1 and community sport could restart without physical distancing requirements.

But researcher and advisor Dr Rawiri Taonui (Te Hikutū and Ngāti Korokoro, Te Kapotai and Ngāti Paeahi, Ngāti Rora, Ngāti Whēru, Ngāti Te Taonui)  says New Zealand should stay in Alert Level 2 to avoid a second wave of Covid-19 cases.

“You need enough days to spend at least two cycles, about 28 days, or as close to you can to a month to make Level 1.”

Taonui says leaders need to look at examples from overseas.

“For example, Wuhan City in China had 36 consecutive days with no new cases and then it found six new cases in just two days.”

Wuhan then embarked on a thorough testing programme in the entire city, which has twice the population of New Zealand.

“But what they discovered was 198 cases of mainly asymptomatic passive cases showing no symptoms and, if we were to extrapolate that to New Zealand, it would be the equivalent to us still having 45 cases with very mild or no symptoms, and of course those people can carry on infecting others.”

Ardern will speak to the media during a conference at 3pm about the plan.