Level 3 could struggle to contain Delta outbreak – Shaun Hendy

Source: Q and A

Covid-19 modelling expert Shaun Hendy has said the Government needs to review its alert level system so that we’re better protected should there be an outbreak of the Delta Covid-19 variant.

“Because of the extra transmissibility, our Alert Level 3 might struggle to contain an outbreak,” Hendy told Q+A.

“We used it very successfully in Auckland last year in the August cluster, but this new Delta variant would challenge those settings, so we should be looking at that and perhaps looking at Level 2 as well.”

Hendy said the fact that the Government moved Wellington to Level 2 this week is an acknowledgement that "we need new tools" to deal with highly contagious variants.

He said changes he would like to see would be widespread mask use and to encourage more scanning using the COVID Tracer app.

“We’ve seen that made a big difference this week – because that Australian visitor actually scanned in, we very quickly got a list of locations where they had been, and that really helped our response,” he said.

Hendy said it’s necessary to respond “very quickly” to the Delta variant.

“New South Wales perhaps sat back and waited a little bit too long,” he said.

“I don’t think we would have taken that approach in New Zealand; I think we would have moved more aggressively than they did in New South Wales, but it is a lesson to us that we can’t relax, even at this stage - even now the vaccine is starting to be rolled out, we still need to stay alert.”