Future lockdowns not out of the question - Hendy

Source: 1News

New Zealand is entering a new phase of its Covid-19 response on Friday with the introduction of the traffic light system.

The new system is the first step towards the country learning to live with the virus, with vaccinated people able to enjoy a lot more freedom, particularly in Auckland where the city had been stuck in lockdown for 107 days.

But lockdowns should still be on the cards in the future, according to Covid-19 modeller Professor Shaun Hendy.

"It's certainly a possibility," Hendy said on Breakfast on Friday morning.

"When we try and model what's going to happen over the next year, in our models we do seem to need lockdowns. Especially next year when we're going into winter ... we tend to be inside and Covid could spread to a greater extent during the winter months.

"That's where we may need lockdowns perhaps, to bring those case numbers back under control."

In October, Hendy was one of the advocates for a circuit-breaker lockdown in Auckland as Covid-19 case numbers rose.

While case numbers continued to grow, the rate of hospitalisation, and in particular, ICU, was lower than predicted.

Currently there are nine people in ICU wards and 86 people in hospital as new daily case numbers hover between 150 and 200.

Whether those numbers would continue to stay the same under the traffic light system was "unknown", Hendy said on Friday.

"It takes us back to March 2020 when we were introduced to the alert level system. We didn't know if that was going to work, in the end it served us pretty well over the last couple of years.

"We're moving into this new system and it is a bit of an unknown, we're doing things that are quite different to what we've done before, with the use of the vaccine pass for example, so we'll just have to watch over the next few months, perhaps even longer, just to see how well this is going to work."