Estimate of Covid outbreak reaching 120 cases a 'ballpark figure', says modeller

Source: 1News

The estimate of New Zealand’s Delta outbreak reaching 120 cases is now a “ballpark” figure after news of Wednesday’s additional cases, modeller Michael Plank says.

People aren’t taking their chances, with waits of up to three hours for a test at Coromandel.

The professor at Canterbury University’s School of Mathematics and Statistics told 1 NEWS the estimate was a "rough ballpark" for the number of people that could have already been infected. So far, 10 cases have been confirmed with an Air NZ crew member also contracting the virus. There is no indication at this stage that the Air NZ worker is one of those 10 cases.

"With the news of the number of cases that's come through today and the locations of interest - you know, busy pubs and so on, that could push us towards the top end of that range. So it's certainly a very serious outbreak that we're looking at," Plank says. 

With many cases being in their 20s, Plank says data shows people in this age group will have more contacts than an age group in their 60s due to them being more social. 

"The fact we've got a number of cases in this age group does mean the outbreak has the potential to spread very quickly," he said.

He says one of the critical things officials will be looking for over the next few days will be to see if there is a link to the border and how long the virus has been spreading in the community. 

"It could be that it takes a week for the effect of the lockdown to take effect in terms of bringing the case numbers down," adding the "best-case scenario would be a clear link established to MIQ”.

It will take a few days for genome sequencing to determine if this is the case. 

Plank says wastewater testing will also give an indication to see if the virus has spread further into the community. 

He applauded the Government's decision to make mask-use mandatory, saying it will reduce the incidence of transmission in places like supermarkets and protect the essential workers as well.