Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


COVID-19 Case Confirmed In NZ – Expert Reaction

After spreading across the globe for months, the first case of COVID-19 has been reported in New Zealand.

The Ministry of Health says the risk of a community outbreak is low, due to their preparedness and the high awareness of the disease.

The Science Media Centre has gathered the following expert comments.

Professor Michael Baker, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington, comments:

“This first confirmed Covid-19 case in NZ has been widely expected for several weeks. Particularly given that more than 20 cases have been confirmed in Australia.

“The description of this case and how it was identified and diagnosed shows that management was exemplary at all stages. This case is a warning to New Zealand that we cannot be complacent about the global Covid-19 pandemic that will affect most countries this year.

“It shows that we are now entering the next stage of our pandemic plan, which is the ‘stamp it out’ stage of identifying and controlling cases and their contacts, and investigating and controlling chains of transmission.

“Fortunately, both Australia and NZ have so far not seen community transmission. But we must prepare for this eventuality.

“Now is the time for maximum pandemic preparation.”

Conflict of interest statement: No conflict of interest.

Professor Miguel Quiñones-Mateu, Webster Family Chair in Viral Pathogenesis, University of Otago, comments:

“We knew this would happen and New Zealand authorities have been preparing for this event for many weeks now. Everything is in place to control, try to minimize, potential local infections with this highly transmissible virus.

“Transparency, open communication, and continued monitoring are the best way to deal with this epidemic.

“People need to continue with their daily lives, paying extra attention to normal hygiene: washing our hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and using hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available, is the best way to stay healthy (not only against SARS-CoV-2 but any other viral, bacterial pathogen). And avoid touching our face with uncleaned hands!”

Conflict of interest statement: No conflict of interest.

Dr Helen Petousis-Harris, Vaccinologist, University of Auckland, comments:

“Like the large friendly letters across a certain popular book ‘Don’t Panic!’

“The inevitable has happened and New Zealand has its first case of COVID-19. What does this all mean? The science of infection control is not new and it is constantly evolving. It is to science we need to turn to guide us through this latest challenge. First, keep in mind the facts. China has faced an epidemic of a new infection. Out of a population of 1.4 billion there have been around 78,000 cases confirmed and 2600 deaths, and this hit them out of the blue. The rate of new cases there has slowed and this demonstrates that by moving swiftly it is possible to manage this, at least for a while. As the WHO notes, we are not witnessing large-scale deaths at this time. Now we concern ourselves with other regions that are not coping with their outbreaks, in particular Iran. Many countries have had cases, multiple cases, and they have thus far contained them, for example the UK. There is no reason to think that we can’t also manage the cases that will inevitably come to our shores, certainly in the early stages. Now we must look to our public health experts and follow their guidance. Remember that what they recommend is backed by the best scientific evidence.

“Let loose, this virus could make many people sick. However, clearly with the right measures it can be contained. It is really important to follow the guidance from our public health authorities, they have trained for this. Having good public health communication campaigns that reach all our communities is vital not only to reduce risk of spread but also to ensure people are not afraid and know how to be prepared. Ultimately, this may become just one of the many infections we live with. Also, there comes a point at which risk declines, people become immune and there are fewer people to spread the virus, it runs out of susceptible hosts. Remember, most people have a mild infection, at this time we do not really know many people have been infected, only the confirmed number of cases.”

Conflict of interest statement: “Helen has led a number of industry funded studies. These have all been investigator conceived and led. She does not receive honorarium from industry personally. She has received industry support to attend some conferences and has contributed to Expert Advisory meetings for GSK, Merck, and Pfizer.”

© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


DIY Law: Government Exempts Some Home Improvements From Costly Consents

Homeowners, builders and DIYers will soon have an easier time making basic home improvements as the Government scraps the need for consents for low-risk building work such as sleep-outs, sheds and carports – allowing the construction sector ... More>>


Media Awards: The New Zealand Herald Named Newspaper Of The Year, Website Of The Year At Voyager Media Awards

The New Zealand Herald has been labelled a “powerhouse news operation” as it claims the two biggest prizes – Newspaper of the Year and Website of the Year – along with many individual awards at the 2020 Voyager Media Awards Website of the ... More>>


ASB Bank: ASB Takes The Lead Again With New Low Home Loan Interest Rate

ASB has moved again to support its customers, cutting a number of home loan rates, including the two-year special rate to a new low of 2.69% p.a. Craig Sims, ASB executive general manager Retail Banking says the reduced rate will be welcome news for many ... More>>


Nathan Hoturoa Gray: The Problems With Testing And Case Statistics For Covid-19

To begin to understand disease transmission in a country requires adequate testing of your population with properly vetted, accurate tests. As the world struggles to find what 'adequate percentage' of the population is necessary, (estimates predict ... More>>


RNZ: Fletcher Building To Lay Off 1000 Staff In New Zealand

The construction company will cut around 10 percent of its workforce as it struggles with the fallout from Covid-19. More>>


Can Pay, Won't Pay: Cashflow Moves Urged

Government Ministers are asking significant private enterprises to adopt prompt payment practices in line with the state sector, as a way to improve cashflow for small businesses. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Why We Should Legally Protect The Right To Work From Home

For understandable reasons, the media messaging around Level Two has been all about “freedom” and “celebration”, but this is not necessarily going to be a universal experience. When it comes to workplace relations, Level Two is just as likely to ... More>>


Telecoms: Spark Welcomes Spectrum Allocation And Prepares For 5G Rollout Over The Next 12 Months

Spark welcomes spectrum allocation and prepares for 5G rollout over the next 12 months Spark today welcomed the announcement of the direct allocation process of 5G spectrum, with the Company to be offered management rights to 60 MHz of 3.5 GHz ... More>>


Trade: Record Monthly Surplus As Imports Dive

Imports in April 2020 had their biggest fall since October 2009, resulting in a monthly trade surplus of $1.3 billion, Stats NZ said today. “This is the largest monthly trade surplus on record and the annual goods trade deficit is the lowest ... More>>


Media Blues: Stuff Chief Executive Buys Company For $1

Stuff chief executive Sinead Boucher has purchased Stuff from its Australian owners Nine Entertainment for $1.
The chief executive was returning the company to New Zealand ownership, with the sale is expected to be completed by 31 May.
"Our plan is to transition the ownership of Stuff to give staff a direct stake in the business as shareholders," Boucher said in a statement.... More>>


RNZ: Bar Reopening Night 'much, Much Quieter'

Pubs and bars are reporting a sluggish first day back after the lockdown, with the fear of going out, or perhaps the joy of staying home, thought to be a reason for the low numbers. More>>


Stats NZ: New Zealand’s Population Passes 5 Million

New Zealand's resident population provisionally reached 5 million in March 2020, Stats NZ said today. More>>

NIWA: Seven Weeks Of Clearing The Air Provides Huge Benefits: Scientist

Seven weeks of lockdown has provided evidence of how pollution can vanish overnight with benefits for the environment and individuals, says NIWA air quality scientist Dr Ian Longley. Dr Longley has been monitoring air quality in Auckland, Wellington ... More>>


Government: Milestone In Cash Flow Support To SMEs

A significant package of tax reforms will be pushed through all stages in Parliament today to throw a cash flow lifeline to small businesses. More>>


University Of Canterbury: Astronomers Discover The Science Behind Star Bursts That Light Up The Sky

University of Canterbury (UC) astronomers are part of an international team that has revealed how explosions on the surface of a white dwarf star can increase its brightness by thousands or millions of times making it look like a new star. For ... More>>

Air NZ: Air New Zealand Adds Business-timed Flights For Regions

Air New Zealand will operate business-timed flights in and out of a number of regional ports from next month.
The flights will allow customers in Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Nelson, Dunedin and Invercargill to undertake a day of business in either Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch... More>>