Modeller fears mystery Covid cases are 'tip of larger iceberg'

A Covid-19 modeller says it’s concerning that mystery cases continue to pop up in Auckland ahead of Cabinet considering whether the city can move down an alert level. 

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The University of Canterbury modeller spoke to 1News after Saturday’s case numbers doubled that of Friday. Source: 1 NEWS

University of Canterbury professor Michael Plank, who is part of a group producing statistical models to assist the Government’s decisions about the pandemic, said the number of cases that have been turning up to hospital without realising they were Covid-positive was also worrying

As for Saturday’s 23 new Covid-19 cases, Plank said people should expect the numbers to “bounce around”. What was more important was the overall trend, he said. 

“We don’t need to be too alarmed - it’s just a single day’s number. We’ve seen a solid downward trend over the past week or so.” 

Eight of Friday’s new Covid-19 cases were infectious in the community. Plank said it was “encouraging” that the number had been trending downward. 

That number needed to reach zero, however, Plank said. If not, there was a “danger” that case numbers could begin to creep up if Auckland moved to Alert Level 3.

Of the 23 new cases on Saturday, nine are yet to be epidemiologically linked to the current Delta outbreak. 

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Community testing sites manager Dr Aash Raj says people are starting to get complacent. Source: 1 NEWS

“The concern here is that because we don’t know where they’ve caught it from, we could be looking at the tip of a larger iceberg,” Plank said. 

“Officials will be looking at these mystery cases closely over the next few days.” 

As well as finding out where those cases had come from, officials would also be reassured if testing rates continued to stay high, he said. 

“Those are the two things that will build confidence that there is no hidden cluster out there.” 

He said it would be “pretty good” if about 7000 to 8000 Covid-19 tests were done in Auckland a day. 

Michael Plank. Source: 1 NEWS

But what was more important was that the right people were getting tested, Plank said. This included people who were experiencing symptoms.