Should we move down to Level 2 so quickly?

By Mana Wikaire-Lewis

Retail, malls, cafes, restaurants, cinemas and other public spaces including playgrounds and gyms, would be able to reopen on Thursday. Schools will return to normal classes next Monday and bars will reopen the following Thursday, with conditions around spacing and waitstaff.

Groupings will be restricted to just ten people. This applies to parties, church meetings, weddings, tangihanga and group bookings at restaurants. 

But are we throwing caution to the winds? Dr Rawiri Taonui believes so.

"The government has made a number of decisions based on it's macro-figures and those figures do tend to support a gradual move to Level 2. However when you delve a little bit deeper the numbers don't stack up, in the likelihood of there being further new cases and a further outbreak is almost certain," he explains.

Dr Rawiri Taonui's crunching of the numbers suggests when comparing the number of cases being in the single digits and two-thirds of the country's DHBs reporting no new cases in the last two weeks, those same DHBs have undertested for Māori, Pasifika and Asian communities.

"Overall, if we look at testing, 11 DHB's testing have been below average for Māori, 11 DHB's testing have been below average for Pasifika communities, and across all 20 DHBs, on average of 40 per cent, the testing has been below average for Asian communities."

"If we look overseas in some of the States in America, in Australia - Northern Territory, Victoria, Western & South Australia - they've gone a week or more on zero new cases before they've started opening up. When you look at our low numbers we're still only seeing between one and four a day."

"Four of our five largest DHBs have reported new cases either yesterday or the day before, with less social distancing & more inter-regional travel. There's a high chance of new cases in the large urban DHBs, and there's a risk to Māori not only in places like Auckland but through low social distancing & inter-regional travel that gets into the regions. 

"It's certain that there will be new cases in big centres.

"Listen, you line up for a plane ticket to fly from Auckland to one of the regions, you'll be maintaining 2 metres distance, 50 or 60 people will be sitting down on a plane - you won't. It's as simple as that."