Aussie epidemiologist warns Kiwis about Delta – 'don’t wait for high numbers'

Source: Q and A

With officials telling those who live or regularly work in several Sydney suburbs to stay-at-home, a NSW epidemiologist is warning New Zealanders that when it comes to the Delta variant of Covid-19, a fast response is crucial: “As soon as you get the Delta, do something about it.”

Professor Mary-Louise McLaws from the University of NSW told Q+A that Delta spreads quickly, and populations “have to learn to respond very fast. Don't wait for high numbers to start asking people to stay at home and hibernate.”

“It's nowhere near like the wild strains, where you can wait and have a traffic light system and wait to think, 'Well, if I'm getting more than five cases a day, I'm starting to get into the amber danger zone.' This Delta is dangerous as soon as you get a tiny cluster. You need to start responding instantly.”

Empty Sydney street near railway station.

Professor McLaws, who had called for lockdown-like measures earlier in the recent outbreak, told fill-in host Indira Stewart that the hotspot approach implemented by NSW yesterday had some weaknesses.

“One of the problems with ring-fencing is that you have to have essential services such as food delivery, trucks delivery and front-line workers coming and going. And because we have a very low vaccination rate at the moment, that still poses a problem.”

She wants rapid antigen testing for those moving in and out of the areas under stay-at-home orders. Those tests take 15 minutes “so you can sit in your truck and be tested. And I think that that's what we need to do so that we can get essential services in and out safely in these ring-fenced areas.”

You can see the full interview on Q+A this Sunday from 9am