Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Covid-19 community transmission is inevitable, Ashley Bloomfield says

The Director-General of Health says community transmission of Covid-19 in the country is inevitable and people should not be complacent about keeping a record of where they've been.

Dr Ashley Bloomfield told Morning Report "it's a matter of when, not if" New Zealand got community transmission.

"We're working on the basis that it could be at anytime ... we have to be absolutely on our toes, and that's not just the health system, that's not just the contact tracing and testing system, it's everybody.

"That's the value and the importance of people getting into the habit of using the app, getting ready, and recording where they've been."

It has been 95 days since the last case of Covid-19 was acquired locally from an unknown source. But Dr Bloomfield said getting a community transmission case wouldn't necessarily mean the country would move up alert levels.

That scenario could be avoided if people used the NZ Covid Tracer app so contacts could be found quickly, isolated and tested, he said.

"The key thing is finding a case as quickly as possible before it has a chance to spread too far in the community."

He said even just registering on the app would mean that the authorities could be assured they had up-to-date contact details of people.

The app had also been handy in following up with people who had been in the same places as the person who tested positive for the virus later in South Korea, he said.

"As part of the follow-up in contact tracing on that, we did have some people who we followed up who have got the app and they uploaded their data to us as to where they had been ... so there is value in the app and it complements our manual and automated contact tracing, which we've now got set up across the country linking all the public health units."

Shops, restaurants and schools across the country are being asked to redouble their efforts to display QR codes for the Covid scanner app.

Although a business forum leader says about two-thirds of businesses already have the QR code for the app, according to Dr Bloomfield, and the Ministry of Health is pushing for them to get QR codes displayed.

But despite more than 600,000 Kiwis registering for the app, regular use has been slow to catch on and Health Minister Chris Hipkins has been urging the public to do their part.

"People are not tending to use the app, and that's what we want to encourage them to do. I heard some comments 'oh we'll wait until the first case or wait until there's transmission'," Dr Bloomfield said.

"Remember the app keeps the record of where you've been for a month, and we actually need to look back to where people have been. So now's the time to get the app and get used to using it."

In a Cabinet paper from June, it shows Dr Bloomfield had argued for the app to be made compulsory for businesses, according to Newsroom. And Dr Bloomfield said that option was not off the table.

"They could be made compulsory if necessary that's still an option, but having the codes there is one part of it, we do need people to have the app and to use it, it's straight-forward and really doesn't take long. And now of course the app's got more functionality, you can retrospectively put in entries manually which we're seeing a lot of people doing now too."

The app is also being updated so that it is compatible with older software on smartphones, and Dr Bloomfield believed that would help increase registrations.

Another option that was being pursued in parallel with the app is a CovidCard.

"It may have a specific role and that's about the bluetooth-to-bluetooth detection so you can see if people have been in proximity with each other. There's also an option to do that with the phones with using bluetooth to bluetooth functionality," Dr Bloomfield said.

Masks could be mandatory if we go back to level 3 - Dr Bloomfield

Dr Bloomfield told Morning Report the ministry was actively looking at scenarios where mass masking may be required.

"We're looking at situations where masks might be deployed and recommended for the general population ... our thinking at the moment is that even at alert level 2 we would be encouraging people to use them in confined spaces, so public transport, shops and so on."

But that would be considered voluntary at level 2, he said, and his intuition is that it would be ramped up to mandatory at level 3.

"Because remember you're deploying all these things including the masks to try and avoid going into a lockdown again."

While there was no firm decisions on masks yet, he encouraged people to have some stocked at their homes, in the same way they have an earthquake kit in case of emergencies.

Work was also underway to check how much is available in the private sector and to ensure there was enough for everybody, Dr Bloomfield said.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Reese Erlich: Foreign Correspondent: Trump Plays Both Sides Against The Middle

Is he a hawk? Is he a peacenik? The President keeps us guessing . By Reese Erlich President Donald Trump has convinced Republican isolationists and hawks that he supports their views. That’s a neat trick, since the two groups hold opposing positions. ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Waiting For The Old Bailey: Julian Assange And Britain’s Judicial Establishment

On September 7, Julian Assange will be facing another round of gruelling extradition proceedings, in the Old Bailey, part of a process that has become a form of gradual state-sanctioned torture. The US Department of Justice hungers for their man. The More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Sorry Plight Of The International Education Sector

Tourism and international education have been two of the sectors hardest hit by the pandemic. They’re both key export industries. Yet the government response to them has been strikingly different. There has been nothing beyond a few words of ministerial condolence and a $51.6 million package (details below) to get the sector through the pandemic...

Binoy Kampmark: Google’s Open Letter: Fighting Australia’s News Media Bargaining Code

Tech giants tend to cast thin veils over threats regarding government regulations. They are also particularly concerned by those more public spirited ones, the sort supposedly made for the broader interest. Google has given us an example of this ... More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Trump’s Current Chances Of Re-Election

By now it seems clear that National have no fresh ideas to offer for how New Zealand could avoid the Covid-19 economic crisis. As in the past, National has set an arbitrary 30% ratio of government debt to GDP that it aims to achieve “in a decade or so,” ... More>>

The Conversation: Rogue Poll Or Not, All The Signs Point To A Tectonic Shift In New Zealand Politics

Richard Shaw AAP(various)/NZ Greens (CC-BY-SA)/The Conversation Strong team. More jobs. Better economy. So say the National Party’s campaign hoardings. Only thing is, last Sunday’s Newshub-Reid Research poll – which had support for the Labour ... More>>

The Coronavirus Republic: Three Million Infections And Rising

The United States is famed for doing things, not to scale, but off it. Size is the be-all and end-all, and the coronavirus is now doing its bit to assure that the country remains unrivalled in the charts of infection . In time, other unfortunates may well ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Altars Of Hypocrisy: George Floyd, Protest And Black Face

Be wary what you protest about. The modern moral constabulary are out, and they are assisted by their Silicon Valley friends in the Social Media club. Should you dare take a stand on anything, especially in a dramatic way, you will be found out ... More>>