National urged the Government to tackle the latest Covid-19 outbreak in Auckland by adopting a five-point plan for managing community cases, National’s Covid-19 Response spokesman Chris Bishop and Health spokesman Dr Shane Reti said.
National five-point plan for managing community outbreaks:
- Introduce rapid antigen testing – a nasal swab test that gives results in 15 minutes.
- Launch high-intensity, well-staffed testing stations throughout Papatoetoe and in every location of interest
- Conduct high intensity wastewater testing at the suburban and suburban levels in Papatoetoe
- Set aside enough vaccines for all border and port workers, then prioritize South Auckland vaccination
- Increase monitoring of people who are required to self-isolate, including on-site screening
Mr Bishop said New Zealand should follow Taiwan’s example where managed isolation at home is complemented by strict protocols, such as random phone calls and requests to confirm their location via video call or providing pictures.
“Our high-confidence approach to self-isolation in this country carries risks, as we have seen over the last few days.
“Most New Zealanders have done an excellent job following self-isolation advice, but it looks like we’re never going to have 100 percent compliance, and it’s frustrating when a small number of people don’t follow the rules.
“Self-isolator monitoring must be improved to ensure compliance. This means regular on-site checks, and if no contact is made within 24 hours, then the police will be involved. “
The government also needs to deploy more staff at more test sites to reduce waiting times and make it easier for people to visit testing stations, Bishop said.
“Long queues and waiting times will discourage people from being tested. We need to fix it. “
Dr Reti said the government should also introduce rapid antigen testing in New Zealand. This nasal swab test gives results in 15 minutes and is commonly performed overseas.
“Rapid antigen testing will allow us to test large numbers of New Zealanders, quickly. Those who test positive will then confirm their results with a standard PCR test.
“This test is commonly done in other countries such as the United States where there are FDA-approved home test kits for less than $ 15.
“They are very good at providing quick answers and peace of mind to people who are showing symptoms of the disease and want to know if they have Covid-19.”
The rapid antigen test will provide an additional layer of testing in addition to the standard nasal PCR test already done here. Our government already considers them reliable enough to accept it as a pre-departure test for arrival to New Zealand.
Dr Reti said there should be daily wastewater checks at the port, and at a more detailed level at Papatoetoe than just the main interceptor.
The government must also set aside enough vaccines for all border and port workers, then priority vaccination for South Auckland, starting with Papatoetoe High School followed by Papatoetoe which is broadly aligned with border and health officials.
“South Auckland presents an increased risk of transmission because of its population density and the number of border workers living there,” said Dr. Reti.
“We understand the need to prioritize other vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, for vaccination but stopping the outbreak at its source is also a form of protection for these groups.”
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