Border restrictions must remain until Omicron’s peak has passed, epidemiologists say.

While it might seem like a wide spread of the highly infectious variant should signal a drop in border controls, other health system complexities need to be considered, Professor Nick Wilson said.

Treating a single variant of Covid-19 in the community would reduce the risk of overloading the health system and allow for more standardized public health messaging, he said.

And with Delta all but suppressed, the government might be better off not reopening the border until the Omicron outbreak is largely over, as some overseas travelers may reintroduce Delta to New Zealand. Zealand, he said.

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However, he thought an alternative policy could be to allow quarantine-free travel for countries that only had Omicron, with others completing managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) within the “few” months. future.

Wilson said there was also a longer-term case for maintaining some border controls, including pre-travel and post-arrival testing, to keep a “handle” on the risk of the introduction of other new variants.

Some border controls could also help prevent the arrival of seasonal flu, he said.

Epidemiologists agree border restrictions should remain until the Omicron wave passes.

Provided

Epidemiologists agree border restrictions should remain until the Omicron wave passes.

His comments came after many expats were appalled by the government’s decision to indefinitely postpone the release of MIQ spaces scheduled for January 20.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stressed that the government was taking a phased approach to reopening the border.

“While there are other variants around the world, we want to make sure we have the potential to reduce the number of new seeded cases,” she said.

Professor Michael Baker said once New Zealand was “inundated” with Omicron it would join the world.

“But we definitely need to have the ability to hold the boundary if we get a new severe variant.”

Baker said there would be no further justification to the MIQ once cases of Omicron reached more than 10,000 a day, and it was widespread across New Zealand.

British commentator Piers Morgan tweeted on Monday that New Zealand was trapped in a “perpetual pandemic prison camp” and said he did not know why the Prime Minister was enforcing draconian new restrictions and calling off his wedding.

“Vaccines and the much milder Omicron are the most likely way out,” he wrote.

However, Baker argued that slowing Omicron’s entry into the community had bought Kiwis time to get vaccinated, and that flattening the curve would reduce the risk of overwhelming health systems and services. essential.

British commentator Piers Morgan criticizes New Zealand's Covid-19 plan and called the country

Jonathan Brady/AP

British commentator Piers Morgan criticizes New Zealand’s Covid-19 plan and called the country “a perpetual pandemic prison camp”.

More time would also allow further research into the unknown effects of long Covid and how people might be protected from it – something Baker said is one of his biggest concerns.

Professor Paula Lorgelly, a Kiwi based in the UK, also felt that New Zealand should do everything possible to slow the spread of Omicron due to the unknown effects of long Covid.

She had been researching the effects of the long Covid, including treatments that might be beneficial.

University of London health economist Paula Lorgelly has studied the effects of long Covid in the UK, including treatments that can help tackle the debilitating disease.

Provided

University of London health economist Paula Lorgelly has studied the effects of long Covid in the UK, including treatments that can help tackle the debilitating disease.

The UK failed to manage its borders and tracing contracts was ineffective with so many infections, which almost caused the testing system to collapse, she said.

There had been 2 million days lost to illness in the past 18 months, and Lorgelly said she was worried about what an influx of Omicron into the community might do to the workforce. New Zealand work.

A recent study in Israel had raised hopes that vaccination could protect against long Covid, with at least two doses associated with a substantial decrease in the reporting of the most common symptoms.

University of Auckland epidemiology professor Rod Jackson said the impact of the long Covid was “clearly a concern” and New Zealand needed to buy as much time as possible.

Rod Jackson, professor of epidemiology at the University of Auckland, says Covid has long been

Jason Dorday/Stuff

Rod Jackson, professor of epidemiology at the University of Auckland, says Covid has long been “clearly a concern”.

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