Covid-19: 'One shot at outbreak' expert says as Covid-19 testing numbers increase
The Delta variant of Covid-19 is a different beast to what the country's seen before – and a GP says it's important for people to get tested, not only when the country is in lockdown but during the “in between times” too.
On Tuesday, the country moved to alert level 4 lockdown after an Auckland man tested positive for the Delta variant of Covid-19. Since then, there has been a growing outbreak of community cases.
And that has bumped Covid-19 testing rates up from a seven-day rolling average of 5162 to 7057 tests on Tuesday.
“Every time we see these cases occur, it brings everything to the forefront,” said Porirua GP and medical director of the College of General Practitioners, Dr Bryan Betty. “During those in between times, we need to keep the basics in play – which means getting a test when you have cold or flu-like symptoms, using the Covid app and getting vaccinated.”
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Betty said he had previously raised concerns, attributing the drop in numbers to a sense of complacency as the country went without a community case for several months.
But the country could not be complacent with the Delta variant, Betty said.
"Until we get our vaccine levels up, we’re at risk," he said.
“The Delta variant is a very different beast to the Alpha variant. It’s potential for infection and spread is dramatically higher so it does really heighten us to be aware of issues and keep to the basics.”
National Hauora Coalition clinical director Dr Rawiri McKree Jansen (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Hinerangi) said for humans, familiarity reduced our sense of risk.
“Frankly, 170 days without a community case is an outstanding result. It’s completely understandable how people have calculated the risk,” Jansen said.
“We’ve got one shot at this outbreak and it's right now ... we have to give it our best shot at alert level 4 lockdown."
Thousands of people with symptoms were turning up to testing stations and Jansen said it was absolutely the right thing to do.
He also encouraged whānau Māori to get vaccinated at the earliest opportunity.
Jansen said whānau Māori should get vaccinated as a household bubble if they could.
Terry Taylor, president of the NZ Institute of Medical Laboratory Science, said Covid-19 testing was not a strain on laboratories.
Usually, Covid-19 tests made up 2 to 3 per cent of lab workers’ daily workload but during a surge, it could make up 15 to 20 per cent, he said.
“That's not unmanageable. We're there to sort it out, give us the work – you're not being a burden.”
“What we found after the last lockdown last year was that we had seriously ill people presenting with diseases we haven't seen in many years. There were a lot more acute presentations and patients who held back from getting tests were a lot sicker after lockdown,” Taylor said.
“Don’t let your other health suffer because you're in lockdown.”
There are a total of 52 testing sites including GPs and medical centres across the Wellington region.
If you are unwell, have any one of the Covid-19 symptoms or believe you may have been in places of interest relating to current cases then call your doctor to arrange a test. You can also call Healthline on 0800 358 5453.