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'It's time to go hard' on Covid rule-breakers - expert

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 14 Oct 2021, 7:15AM

'It's time to go hard' on Covid rule-breakers - expert

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 14 Oct 2021, 7:15AM

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The time has come to stop being soft on people breaking the Covid-19 rules and go really hard, says Auckland University epidemiologist Rod Jackson. 

He was responding to comments from Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins there still wasn't confidence in the Covid situation in Northland, due to the reluctance of two women travellers on sharing information. 

Hipkins said it was difficult to know how responsible they were in their travels because there was limited information on their travel. 

They were providing "very little information" about where they'd been, he said. 

Police have also been called in to find a woman from Māngere in South Auckland who tested positive for Covid-19 but absconded from her home and cannot be found. 

Police have been directed to take her straight to the Jet Park Hotel quarantine facility when they do. 

The Herald has chosen not to name the woman, in her 40s, but can reveal she is well known to police, is gang-connected and has been the subject of a number of public appeals this year to locate her for alleged criminal offending. 

"She has refused to engage with health officials," said a police spokeswoman. 

Jackson said the time has come to take a tough stance towards people who don't follow the rules. 

"I think we need to go very, very hard on people who are breaking the rules because Delta will get away from us. They need to be prosecuted." 

He said the country has to pull out all steps to get to a really high vaccination rate because Auckland may be out of control. 

Hipkins said yesterday "it would be fair to say Covid-19 is spreading in Auckland and the number of locations we're seeing cases pop up is increasing ... vaccination is absolutely important at this point." 

"We're seeing good, high vaccination rates in Auckland but I can't stress enough we want to push harder and faster with vaccination in Auckland, it will make a difference. It will be a very important part of the pathway to less restrictions for Auckland." 

Jackson said Auckland got to quite low numbers a couple of weeks ago as a result of people following the rules, but there are a group of people not following the rules and we need to go really hard on them. 

"Softly, softly is over. It's time to go hard," he said. 

Michael Baker said yesterday that it was a "huge concern" if someone is infectious and not co-operating with health officials and authorities. 

"We need every advantage to get over this virus we can't afford to have uncooperative cases." 

Baker said locations of interest and close contacts allow health officials a "chance to get ahead" of the virus. 

"You could almost stop this virus even now with very good contact tracing but the challenge, you often needed the addition of moving up the alert level system to reduce the level of mixing." 

However, in order to stamp out the virus Baker said different tools such as contact tracing must work together. Which is difficult when you have uncooperative cases. 

This morning he said that to achieve herd immunity for Covid-19, we will need as close to 100 per cent as we can get. 

Speaking to TVNZ's Breakfast programme, he said the world will have to rely heavily on vaccines going forward to beat Covid - and not so much on measures such as lockdown. 

"The best defence ... is global vaccination." 

It was also very important for all countries to have equal access to vaccines, Baker said, in order to achieve herd immunity against Covid. 

He said we are not yet near global eradication of Covid, but said we could well reach that in future. 

Acknowledging previous pandemics the world has faced, Baker said the Covid vaccines that have been developed were much better in comparison to vaccines developed against influenza, for example. 

"That's why the idea that we may be able to push down the rate of Covid-19 infection in 
the future, if we sustain this really high vaccine coverage and using other things," he said. 

"We won't get back to no virus - zero Covid - but we could keep the numbers really low. 

"But it does depend, the main thing, on getting our vaccine numbers up." 

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