Expert says fast tracking South Island down alert levels 'too risky'

Source: 1News

A Covid-19 modelling expert is urging the South Islanders not to get too complacent as there’s still a chance of Delta cases appearing.

Professor Michael Plank with his take on those numbers.

New Zealand's Delta variant outbreak hit 107 cases yesterday, prompting the Government to extend the country’s Alert Level 4 lockdown until 11.59pm Friday;  with Auckland remaining at Level 4 until 11.59pm, August 31.

The decision was met with some resistance, with lower parts of New Zealand, not yet recording any cases.

Nevertheless, University of Canterbury Professor Michael Plank told Breakfast, the South Island “won’t be completely out of the woods yet.”

“We know there are at least 150 contacts outside the Auckland and Waikato region, quite a few are in the South Island and those are just the ones we know about.”

He says it’s “quite likely” there could be cases that appear, potentially in the South Island, as it’s only been a week since the country was plunged into lockdown.

“Some of those people may still be in their incubation period … so there could still be cases lurking out there.”

Most of New Zealand will find out whether they will move down alert levels on Friday, while Auckland’s lockdown was extended by another week.

Plank added that the Government is better to “proceed cautiously” when reopening up communities to avoid another outbreak.

Moving straight down to Alert Level 2 would be “too high of a risk”, he says, due to the amount of mixing people can do in the community.

Covid-19 testing clinic in Auckland.

“We just don’t know but we can’t take the risk because if there are cases and we do get an outbreak we can very, very quickly see a situation as we have in Auckland.”

It’s hoped by the end of the week, the effects of the lockdown will begin to flatten the curve.

“Hopefully by sort of Thursday, Friday that we start to see the effects of the lockdown in bringing those cases down.”