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Covid-19: Wairarapa Could Lead Way Out Of Level 3 – Expert

Epidemiologist Roger Morris was asked about covid-19 in Wairarapa during the Masterton District Council's online annual plan hearings. PHOTO/WAIRARAPA TIMES-AGE

World-renowned epidemiologist Roger Morris has said Wairarapa could be in a position to move to alert Level 2 earlier than other parts of New Zealand.

Morris, speaking during Masterton District Council’s online annual plan hearings, said areas without cases may be in a position to move down levels earlier than others.

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson asked Morris for his thoughts on the pandemic crisis during the annual report submissions.

Morris, an emeritus professor at Masset University, had made a verbal submission on the council's annual plan. He repeated his criticism of the survey during his presentation.

Asked by the district's mayor on his thoughts, he said it was difficult to cover in two minutes.

But he said he thought New Zealand had done “exceptionally well” dealing with the pandemic, and Wairarapa “could be a leader” in lifting further restrictions.

“I get a lot of people asking me that question,” he said.

“I think New Zealand has done exceptionally well. We’re on track to attempt to potentially achieve what they call “elimination” - I prefer to call freedom, which is a more positive term.

“I think we’re doing well.”

Morris said he was expecting several unexpected cases over the next week.

“We’ve had two today [Wednesday], after two zeroes because, as we came out of level 4, you’ll get some transmission.

“I believe that we can proceed to Level 2 next week.

“Could Wairarapa lead the way? My answer is yes.

“If we can’t have national Level 2 next week, we could have Level 2 in the areas with no cases, that appear to be free of the disease, and lead the way for the other parts of the country to come in as a second phase.

“That would demonstrate what the effect Level 2 is. If we pop up with some cases, it will say Level 2 is not as safe as we thought it is. That’s my view.”

He said he had been contacted by people overseas asking why New Zealand was a relative success to date in dealing with covid-19.

“I can’t do it in two minutes – it’s a multi-factorial thing.”

Morris is currently working on a World Bank project on the virus and its impact from his home in Masterton.

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