ZB

Australian epidemiologist warns NZ not follow their mistakes when it comes to RATs

Author
Emme McKay,
Publish Date
Tue, 25 Jan 2022, 9:25am
(Photo / Getty)
(Photo / Getty)

Australian epidemiologist warns NZ not follow their mistakes when it comes to RATs

Author
Emme McKay,
Publish Date
Tue, 25 Jan 2022, 9:25am

An epidemiologist in South Australia is warning New Zealand not to follow their country’s mistakes, when it comes to rapid antigen tests.  

It’s believed South Australia has reached its “Covid-peak” with active cases and daily infections declining.  

The state recorded 2,009 cases in the most recent 24-hour reporting period, and have 27,991 active cases. 

University of South Australia professor of epidemiology Adrian Esterman said they had public health measures in place much like New Zealand’s red setting, which had put them in “good stead.”   

That included mask wearing in high-risk settings, patron restrictions on hospitality venues and retail stores, and restrictions on dancing and singing.  

Esterman said the most important thing to keep Omicron under control, was to not wait to put more public health measures in place.  

“New Zealand has done that already, you have moved to your red and that’s probably sufficient now to make sure you don’t get so many cases your health system can’t manage.”  

New Zealand currently has 19 cases in its Omicron cluster, eight of which were recorded in Monday’s 25 community cases. 

Esterman said New Zealand shouldn’t follow Australia’s “totally shambolic” rapid antigen test rollout.  

“We’ve got a stupid situation now where it’s very difficult for the general public to access the tests. What New Zealand has to do now, before you’re hit with Omicron, is make sure you have a good supply of tests available.”  

He said without them, everyone will have to get PCR tests which will result in long queues and put pressure on pathology. He said rapid antigen tests should also be free for the general public.  

There are roughly 4.6 million test kits in the country, according to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.  

Esterman said a key to try and keep transmission under control, was to try and reduce infections in schools.  

“In Victoria and New South Wales, they’re giving out free rapid antigen tests to children twice a week, they’ve got mandated mask wearing for year three and above and have done audits of all school classrooms and anywhere where ventilation is poor, installed air purifiers.”  

“That’s what you’ve really got to do, to keep schools safe,” he said.  

New Zealand schools will begin to start term one from next week. Under the red setting, students year four and up must wear face coverings indoors and when in close contact with others. 

South Australia current restrictions *Patron restrictions for hospitality venues and retail shops (dependent on space) *Home gatherings capped at 10, including children and residents *Park picnics outdoors allowed *COVID-Safe check ins required *Mask use for high risk settings like public transport, health care services, shared indoor spaces, residential or disability care facilities, hospitals, supermarkets *Restrictions on dancing and singing *Food and drinks must be consumed while seated *Private functions banned 

New Zealand current restrictions *Vaccinated people can gather up to 100 at a home or venue *Unvaccinated people can gather up to 25 *Hospitality businesses can open up to 100 people when using vaccine certificates *Masks to be worn on public transport, flights, at the shops, inside public venues, when visiting health care services