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Dr Rawiri Taonui | Covid-19 Maori | Risk of Spread from Auckland OutBreak | 4 September 2020
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Dr Rawiri Taonui | Covid-19 Maori | Risk of Spread from Auckland OutBreak | 4 September 2020

The Auckland OutBreak

The Auckland region moved to Alert Level 2 at 11:59 pm on Sunday 30 August 2020. This column advised that over the next seven to ten days there was a risk of transfer to other parts of the country the principal areas of risk being by road travel to the Waikato and Te Tai Tokerau.

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Now five days into Level 2, that risk has eased. It has not gone away. A positive case may have already left Auckland before the city went to Level 2. Any travelling by car present a risk to the Waikato, Te Tai Tokerau or further afield. If a positive case has already flown out of Auckland, then the risk may well in another part of the country.

Trend of New Cases

While those concerns remain real, new cases are trending downward. Upon entering Level 2, this column estimated would continue to between 150 to 200. Total notified cases are on 154. There will be further increases. If there are two to three days of cases around or over ten per day the risk will elevate.

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There have been 256,000 tests since the outbreak began on 11 Aug. This equates with the combined total of 257,800 of all tests in April and May. This assist mitigating the risk.

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Active Cases

The number of active cases is a key index. A rise in active cases indicates control has not been achieved, a significant decline indicates control over the outbreak. Yesterday, the number of active cases dropped from 129 to 115, including from 94 to 79 in the Auckland Community Cluster. 79 is high but the trend is in the right direction.

Contact Tracing

Contact tracing is performing well. This will assist containment. A greater proportion of new cases are people who have already been advised to isolate. Since August 11, the Auckland contact tracing team has identified 3,162 close contacts of cases, of which 2,984 have been contacted and are self-isolating. At 21 contacts per positive case and 94.4% of all named persons contacted these figures are well above the 80% that is regarded as the ‘gold standard’.


While we can remain concerned that shortcomings at the border and in the community, including the absence of random surveillance testing during July, the month when the infections leading to the outbreak occurred; an increase in the number of returnees entering New Zealand from the second half of July onwards, including a significant increase in the number of positive cases crossing our border; and the failure to conduct ‘regular and required testing of all border staff whether symptomatic or asymptomatic’; we can also recognise that mass testing and our ability to trace and test contacts is strong.

On balance, the risk of viral spread from Auckland still exists. And while lower than on 11 August or when Auckland went to Level 2, two or three over nine or ten new cases should elevate our concern.


                                                                 Noho haumaru
                                                                          rawiri t


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