Expert calls for NZ to up prevention efforts with Covid-19 variants at the border

There are questions being raised in New Zealand over whether we need to step up our prevention efforts to combat the threat of the mutating Covid-19 virus overseas as Kiwis travel further and mix in larger numbers over summer.

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So far, the Ministry of Health has only launched an awareness campaign for the holiday period. Source: 1 NEWS

Tens of thousands have already made their way to Auckland's waterfront to watch the first two days of the Prada Cup.

Steve Armitage of Auckland Unlimited said they’ve done all they can to ensure people have slip, slop, slapped – and scanned.

“We feel like we've really pushed the boat out there, pardon the pun, to make sure that people have every opportunity to follow the guidelines from the Ministry of Health."

Auckland University modeller Shaun Hendy said it's more important than ever to follow those guidelines.

“Because many of us will be travelling, this is the period where if we had an outbreak in Auckland, we could see it be passed around the country,” Hendy said.

“We’ve seen that overseas in North America and in Europe post-Christmas.”

Scanning numbers have dropped significantly since August and September. It's partly been attributed to Kiwis relying on the app's new Bluetooth function, however authorities are reiterating they must still scan in.

And when it comes to mandatory masking on Auckland's public transport, vigilance is slipping outside of peak travel times, commuters have told 1 NEWS.

“There's been the odd one, but overall it's been a good response,” one Aucklander said.

“I’ve seen people not wearing masks but no one said anything or did anything,” added another.

The Ministry of Health has launched an awareness campaign for the holiday period but with the highly-contagious variants now at our border, Hendy is calling for more to be done.

“It’s compulsory for Aucklanders to wear masks in public transport – that’s something we could do around the country,” he said.

“The government should think hard about doing that. It’s something that’s relatively simple. It's not that painful to do.”