Hipkins: Tuesday’s 94 Covid cases ‘sobering’ but could have been worse

Source: 1News

The fact that New Zealand had 94 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday was “sobering”, but it could have been worse, Chris Hipkins says.

Speaking on Breakfast, the Covid-19 Response Minister said all modelling of the Delta variant showed the country could expect a “relatively steady growth” in cases, which “wasn’t unexpected”.

Modelling by Te Pūnaha Matatini that was presented to the Government in September and was recently released publicly showed the current trajectory of the Delta outbreak is in line with "pessimistic" Alert Level 3 scenarios.

But, Hipkins said attention needed to turn to the nature of the cases rather than just the number.

He said hospitalisation rates were not increasing even if case numbers were.

“We are seeing vaccinations playing a role here in the sense that the case numbers could be growing even faster.

“But, vaccination has helped us to suppress what could be exponential growth of the Delta variant cases.”

He also said the Government was already “doing everything we can to push” vaccinations, and that now it was up to the community.

Additionally, despite Auckland entering its ninth week in lockdown, the Government has not released the advice it had been receiving to inform its decisions.

Hipkins said the Government was still “endeavouring” to release the documents, but did not say when that would be happening.

He said the documents wouldn’t tell people much more than what they already knew because the nature of the advice was canvassed during announcements.

The Government wanted to provide Kiwis with more certainty about the road ahead on Friday, he said.

“We will be providing a bit more detail on what the future looks like [on Friday] - it will be different.

“The reality is we’re almost certainly not going to get back down to zero cases of Covid-19 in the community anytime soon. So, we are going to have to do things differently”

On Friday, Cabinet is expected to give more details about a new “traffic light system” to replace the current alert levels.

However, the traffic light proposal has already been met with strong opposition from independent health experts and Māori leaders .