Real Life

Top NZ scientist Dr Peter Gluckman adds his voice to calls from experts to shut down NZ completely

''The number of new cases coming from offshore means community transmission will get established without absolute precaution,'' he has said.

Update: After the publishing of this story the Ministry of Health reported 36 new confirmed cases today, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in New Zealand to 102. Two are being treated as community transmission. While most cases are still people who have come from overseas, an increasing number of cases were close contacts of those people, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said. The Prime Minister will update the alert level later today.
The Prime Minister's former chief science advisor, Dr Peter Gluckman, has added his voice to calls from experts to shut down New Zealand, saying we should be going into "extreme shutdown" now to fight the spread of Covid-19.
In a tweet made earlier today Dr Gluckman wrote, "The evidence is mounting that the best thing NZ could do is make the hard decision to go to extreme shutdown now.
"The number of new cases coming from offshore means community transmission will get established without absolute precaution."
His call has come as the number of cases of Covid-19 in NZ has continued to rise, and currently sits at 66. All cases so far have been related to overseas travel but two are being investigated for community transmission.
On Sunday public health expert Professor Michael Baker told Stuff a lockdown is critical sooner rather than later to fight the pandemic and save New Zealand from the catastrophic path of some other countries.
"All I can do is convey the epidemiological rationale for doing it very rapidly," said Baker, from the University of Otago's Department of Public Health.
"The alternatives are pretty dire."
Baker said a sharp, short lockdown in New Zealand now could save the country from lockdowns later that could drag on for months.
Enforcing limits in social movement could essentially suffocate the virus' ability to spread, Baker said.
"It basically gives the virus nowhere to go. We have been guilty of underestimating the virus and chasing the virus. This is a way of getting ahead of it."
He said New Zealand should be taking heed from the pandemic's escalation in Australia.
At the time of writing there were 1,316 confirmed cases in Australia, and seven people have died.
"Where Australia goes, we're going to follow because our population's very similar in how it behaves," Baker said.
Dr Siouxsie Wiles has written a piece for The Spinoff about the government's four-level alert system that was introduced to New Zealanders over the weekend, saying that if we don't follow self-isolation advice now we could be at level four before we know it.
She wrote, "The alert system sets out how we can stop the spread of this virus in New Zealand. To see how important our actions are, I want you to imagine you are part of an ever-expanding chain.
"Because people can spread the virus for a few days before they have any symptoms, each person who contracts the virus can unwittingly pass it on to several of their whānau, friends and colleagues. Then each one of them can unwittingly pass it on to several of their whānau, friends and colleagues.
"The good news is, we can do things that will reduce the chances of us spreading the virus. That means we can break these chains and potentially stop hundreds or even thousands of people getting Covid-19."
The illlustration, below, by The Spinoff cartoonist Toby Morris demonstrates how impactful individual discipline is.
Meanwhile, the government is also facing mounting pressure from health frontline workers and teachers to up the ante in NZ's fight against the pandemic.
Some front-line health workers are petitioning the Government to activate Covid-19 alert level 4 immediately.
The petition's author, Dr Kelvin Ward, said raising the alert to the highest possible level was the only way for New Zealand to ensure it survives the virus with minimal impact.
Jacinda Ardern explains the four-level alert system in the video below. New Zealand currently sits at level two:
The Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand - which represents 100,000 registered teachers - has urged Jacinda Ardern to close down all schools.
The head of the Teaching Council of Aotearoa New Zealand, Lesley Hoskin, has written an open letter to Ardern, saying: "We have been communicating with teachers over the weekend and we've listened to their concerns.
"They want to support you and Aotearoa to flatten the curve. However, they want you to know, if you do not move now, they cannot see how they can protect their learners, themselves nor their loved ones at home."
Schools will be closed if we move to level three.
In the past 24 hours four Auckland schools have been linked to confirmed Covid-19 cases.
Marist College, Randwick Park School and Glendowie College have all shut their doors following confirmed or probable cases of coronavirus linked to staff and students.
The father of a Mt Roskill Grammar Student has also tested positive for the virus, but the school has not announced that it will close.
A student at Randwick Park School is a "probable case" of Covid-19, with their test results expected back late Sunday night, parents were told.
At the beginning of the month the parents of two students at Westlake Boys High School and Westlake Girls High School tested positive for Covid-19 and went into self isolation with their children. Those schools remained open.
Jacinda Ardern has urged New Zealanders to work from home if they can, limit their movement around the country and practise social distancing.
Over-70s have been told to stay at home.
Jacinda Ardern said in a 'state of the nation' speech on the weekend that the situation was constantly being monitored.
"We know how to rally and we know how to look after one another and right now what is more important than that?" she said.
"Be strong, be kind and unite against Covid-19."