As New Zealand sees a rise in new Covid-19 cases, one expert is calling for a change in the way new cases are being reported and announced.
All nine of the country’s new confirmed cases have been attributed to overseas travel with patients in managed isolation and quarantine facilities.
Before the two new cases were announced last week, New Zealand had seen 24 days without any new cases, and a seven-day streak without any active cases.
As none of those cases exist within the community, epidemiologist Michael Baker thinks case reporting should focus on the country’s elimination status instead.
“I think the way we report these cases sometimes looks a bit pessimistic,” says Dr Baker.
“I sometimes think we should say instead we’ve gone for 40 days or 50 days without any local transmission and we’ve maintained our elimination status.”
Because, Dr Baker says, the cases found at the border aren't actually new infections in New Zealand.
“I think when we keep reporting these like they’re cases in New Zealand it might give people just a few more worries than they need to have.”
He also says it doesn’t look great overseas, with most countries around the world still seeing transmission occurring inside their borders, unlike in New Zealand.
“It doesn’t look that great overseas when they say, ‘We thought New Zealand had eliminated this virus, yet they get nine cases in the last week.'
"So countries that have eliminated the virus and are detecting cases in quarantine, it looks like they may be local cases if people don’t know that distinction.”
On a global scale, Dr Baker says the Covid-19 pandemic isn't looking good unless those countries can take "decisive" action like New Zealand has.
"It’s basically horrible. This pandemic is continuing and it's only getting started in some places.
"It is a message to New Zealand that we have to manage the borders very carefully."
There are nine active Covid-19 cases in New Zealand. All but two of them remain in quarantine or managed isolation and the remaining pair are in self-isolation with a family member.