Bloomfield denies ‘poke’ at Chris Bishop as he confirms R rate detail on Twitter

The Director-General of Health says he didn’t intend to “poke” National’s Covid-19 spokesperson on Twitter, only that he wanted to communicate information clearly. 

Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Director-General of Health. Source: 1 NEWS

National MP Chris Bishop tweeted on Thursday afternoon about New Zealand's R rate, or the effective reproduction number - a rating of how the virus is spreading.

“R rate is under 1 still. Good. But [it would] be good to see Dr Bloomfield give us the exact estimates. 0.95 is under 1 but not really. 0.6 is a lot better and makes a massive difference," he wrote.

Th R rate estimates, on average, how many others a Covid-19-positive person would go on to infect. A number above 1 suggests an outbreak is growing, and a number below 1 signals it is shrinking. However, relying on the number alone does have some pitfalls

Responding to Bishop’s tweet, Dr Ashley Bloomfield wrote: “Just to confirm it’s a 95% probability that the R(eff) is under 1.”

Bishop then tweeted: "Thanks Dr Bloomfield"

Bloomfield then went on to tweet again. He said: “I want to be clear there is no poke here at all. I simply wanted to make sure I had communicated the information correctly as there is a lot to get across during the 1pm standup. Thanks.”

Bloomfield has been using Twitter to answer people’s questions about the pandemic.

On Sunday, Bishop said in a statement that he wanted more detailed information to be conveyed in the 1pm press conferences. 

“Raw numbers each day are no longer adequate. The Ministry must release more sophisticated information like other jurisdictions do. New Zealanders are entitled to know what is going on,” he said. 

Bishop wanted the following information to be released daily:

  • A further breakdown of the raw number of total contacts, specifically listing how many of the high risk “close plus” contacts have been tested and what the test results show.
  • Much more detail about the number of cases each day, including if they are household contacts, if they contracted Covid-19 from or at a location of interest, an essential workplace, or if the source is presently unknown.
  • How many essential workers have tested positive and how many were infectious in the community.
  • Whether there has been community transmission of Covid-19 outside of a household bubble since the lockdown.
  • What the current estimated effective “R” is.