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Keep Covid-19 restrictions as is, Michael Baker says

Publish Date
Mon, 10 Apr 2023, 1:05pm
Epidemiologist Michael Baker.
Epidemiologist Michael Baker.

Keep Covid-19 restrictions as is, Michael Baker says

Publish Date
Mon, 10 Apr 2023, 1:05pm

A public health professor is urging Cabinet to leave the few remaining Covid-19 restrictions in place.

Currently, people have to self-isolate for seven days if they test positive, and masks must be worn in hospitals in some circumstances.

Cabinet was reported to be due to take a look at those settings in the coming weeks.

But epidemiologist Michael Baker told RNZ self isolation protects people from lots of dangerous respiratory illnesses, including flu, whooping cough and other nasties that are doing the rounds.

"And even if you get a negative result, it's not conclusive and also you might have another respiratory infection that you would pass on if you went back to work or school."

Baker said vigilance towards Covid-19 was still needed, as it was the infectious disease that kills and hospitalises the most people in Aotearoa.

But University of Auckland associate professor and microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles said a test-to-release strategy would identify people who were still infectious on day seven.

She said people who were not infectious could also potentially come out of isolation earlier.

Wiles said masks in healthcare settings and on public transport were vital to stopping the spread of the virus.

Yesterday, Baker said the virus was on track to kill 1000 people this year and cause 10,000 hospitalisations.

On 9 April, 1159 cases were announced, with 415 being reinfections.

Baker told the NZ Herald Cabinet needed to make its decision carefully.

"I think we need to consider the massive strain Covid-19 is having on the health system, which is one of the reasons why New Zealand introduced these requirements in the first place," he told the publication.

"Governments have every right to say, our health system is under stress and therefore we'd require people not to add to it with avoidable diseases - it's pretty reasonable.

"I hope that most New Zealanders understand the personal and societal benefits about sticking with these kinds of requirements."


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