Coronavirus: Latest news on the COVID-19 epidemic in the community – Wednesday, December 8

12:30 p.m. – The country is bracing for another major change in the way it handles COVID-19, with travel to and from Auckland resuming next week for the first time in four months.

Dr Dion O’Neale, senior researcher at Te Pūnaha Matatini and lecturer at the University of Auckland, said experts expect hundreds of thousands of travelers to make the most of Auckland’s reopening.

“In a typical (pre-COVID) week, we would expect to see around 150,000 trips per week to Auckland and about 200,000 trips per week from Auckland and traveling outside the region. slightly decreased once COVID hit Aotearoa in 2020, but during times when the country was on Alert Level 1, we still saw over 100,000 trips per week to Auckland and 200,000 trips from Auckland. does not take into account the increase in travel during the summer holidays when travel outside Auckland typically doubles, ”he said on Wednesday.

“Removing regional travel borders means we expect cases to be much more spread across the rest of Aotearoa.”

While requiring people to be vaccinated or test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of travel, should slightly reduce the risk of the virus spreading outside Auckland, there are a number of reasons. where these measures might not be as effective as we hoped, O’Neale said.

“In the current epidemic, around 24% of cases involve children who are too young to be vaccinated and who are not required to test negative. and reduces the risk that you will transmit COVID even more if you have a breakthrough infection), it does not eliminate that risk. Likewise, a negative test in the three days before travel will not mean that adults are still non-contagious when traveling, ”he explained.

“And although vaccination is a great way to prevent transmission in general, it can make it more difficult to prevent the spread outside an area because it can reduce the severity of symptoms of breakthrough infections enough that people are people don’t realize they are infectious when they travel. There is a role here for easily accessible and affordable rapid antigen tests that can help quickly detect infections in people while they are. the most infectious.

“One factor that is in our favor at the moment is the relatively low number of daily cases that we see in Auckland. However, even a period of only 100 cases detected daily means that there will be around 1,500 known active cases.

“Because many areas that Aucklanders like to travel to on vacation have lower vaccination rates, we hope that a fair number of people will choose to stay in town during the holiday season, possibly delaying their travel until that vaccination rates in other areas have caught up with those in large cities. “

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