Baker fears ‘tragedies’ if Covid spreads further through NZ

Source: 1News

Aucklanders with summer holiday plans to leave the region are being urged to get tested, and be vaccinated, to avoid further spread of Covid-19.

The border reopens on December 15, following the implementation of the traffic light system last week. It gives Aucklanders the opportunity to travel to see family and friends for the Christmas and New Year period.

Some experts are asking those in the Auckland to stay put, to avoid taking the virus with them. Particularly to parts of New Zealand with low vaccination rates and regional health care systems that are already under pressure.

Epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker expects to see “more transmission” with more people travelling around and spending time indoors, but says there are precautions in place to help minimise the spread.

“What I would say to people moving out of Auckland obviously there's two things you need to do, some of this is now a legal requirement of course, you need to be vaccinated or tested,” says Baker.

“If you are going to visit family out of Auckland and, hopefully you're all fully vaccinated, you get tested as well.”

He says that’s particularly important if you have children under the age of 12 because they can't be vaccinated, but they can easily be infected and they often don't have symptoms.

“The second big precaution, is have a conversation with the people you’re going to visit, if it's family or friends or people you're going to have Christmas day with, or maybe expecting to spend New Year's Eve with, check that they’re vaccinated I think that's a huge thing you can do to protect their health,” he says.

“It's getting quite late but if they’re not vaccinated they get their first dose now they still will have some protection by the time you visit.”

Baker says this is “uncharted territory” and “we could see some real tragedies around the country.”

But he says we know how the Covid is transmitted, which is helpful.

“It’s really particularly transmitted indoors, often between people who know each other."

Baker says if Aucklanders follow are vaccinated and get tested for Covid-19 the risk of taking the virus elsewhere will be minimised.

“The thing is we’ve got tools to prevent this causing serious harm and that is obviously vaccination and we’ve got testing.”