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Infectious person at Auckland gym shows why Covid-19 restrictions remain necessary - expert

Covid-19 data modeller and professor Shaun Hendy thinks New Zealand should remain at current alert levels, saying the Covid-19 positive case who attended gym classes and shops on Auckland's North Shore while infectious shows why restrictions are necessary.

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The virus modelling expert thinks the nation should remain at current alert levels. Source: Breakfast

Later today, the Government will announce whether alert level restrictions are loosened, stay the same or even tightened.

Yesterday, two news cases of Covid-19 were reported in New Zealand. One new case was a returnee who is in managed isolation, and the other a health worker from Auckland's Jet Park quarantine facility. 

New Zealand's total number of active cases now stands at 97, of which 39 are imported cases in managed isolation and quarantine facilities, and 58 are community cases.

The total number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand is 1446.

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Cabinet is set to make a decision on the nation’s alert level today. Source: Breakfast

On TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning, Hendy, who is also the director of Auckland University's Te Pūnaha Matatini - Centre of Research Excellence in Complex Systems and Data Analytics, praised the efforts of contact tracers during the latest community outbreak. However, he added it wasn't over yet.

"We should look at things as if we're slightly ahead of where we were last time, but none-the-less I don't think we're quite there yet," he said.

"I think we should probably stay with current settings for a little while longer, and that case overnight, the Takapuna case, just shows us why we need these restrictions at the moment.

"We do need to carefully control when we're coming into close contact with other people."

Hendy said if there were no new cases reported in the community over the next week to 10 days the nation would be in a position to confidently move down alert levels.

"We heard overnight about the gym case in Takapuna, and so I guess the worst case is that there's an event like that but that we don't learn about it. You know, for whatever reason it doesn't get picked up by the contact tracers and that sparks another cluster," he said.

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People who attended the same classes at a Takapuna Les Mills are being considered close contacts. Source: Breakfast

"In that case, in about a week, 10 days, two weeks, we may see a rise in cases and we may be back where we were mid-August."

But why should the rest of the country stay at Level 2?

Hendy said there remains a risk if someone from Auckland travels outside the region.

"Testing rates are also not as high as they are in Auckland. Obviously, the testing has been very much focused on the Auckland region where we know there are cases.

"The fact that we're not testing at rates as high in other parts of the country means that if someone did take it away outside Auckland that it would grow before we detected it and so that's really the risk."

However, he also said the source of the Auckland August cluster may never be known and that's OK.

"We may never know. Now that's not critical because of the high rates of testing across the Auckland region. We're pretty sure that this is the only cluster that we're looking at and so it's not essential that we find the outbreak."