It was time for Auckland to move alert levels - Bloomfield

Source: 1News

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said modelling suggested the community outbreak of Delta was being controlled, so Auckland was able to move down an alert level.

The region shifted from Level 4 lockdown to Level 3 at 11.59pm on Tuesday. It is now expected to be in Level 3 for at least two weeks. 

Bloomfield told Breakfast health authorities were "still confident" the outbreak could be controlled and eventually eliminated at Level 3.

This was due to high restrictions being maintained at this alert level and ongoing vaccinations being done.

Continued testing in suburbs of interest would also be "critical" in extinguishing the "final embers" of the outbreak.

An "incredibly thorough public health assessment" carried out by the ministry also suggested it was time to move down.

Dr Ashley Bloomfield

Bloomfield said elimination of Covid-19 was "absolutely" still being pursued due to the "zero tolerance" for the virus which encompassed testing, contact tracing and isolating positive cases and their contacts.

Bloomfield told RNZ the country may not get back to zero cases.

"We may not get back to zero, but the important thing is we're going to keep finding any infections and basically continue to contact trace, test, isolate people so that we stop the virus circulating in the community, and that is the aim.

"Everyone recognizes, including the modellers, that it [the vaccination rate] needs to be north of 90 per cent for us to be really comfortable that we can open up to the sort of freedoms, we had in alert level 1, it's the best new tool in our toolbox.

"The other thing is that if we get that very high vaccination rate, then the level of baseline restrictions will be minimal, and that's where we want to be."

He said vaccinations were a "helpful tool" in possibly moving away from the use of Level 4 to stamp out the virus, which he felt "should absolutely be our strategy".