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Coronavirus: Zoonotic disease specialist 'we have to be careful'

coronavirus 02/04/2020

 Peter Williams is joined by Professor David Hayman, a Zoonotic disease specialist, to discuss the effects of covid-19 and the importance of testing.

Peter begins by asking why we are not testing at the capacity the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health say we have.

Professor Hayman explains “the whole word is suffering”, and the government is trying to target high risk people. However, he would like to see more tests.

As there is a global shortage, he thinks, “They’re trying to take a precautionary approach.”

Hayman shares what is in the Covid-19 testing kits - “lots of pieces, replicate bits of DNA”, he says the tests he could do in his own laboratory, would not be validated. If you use different types of approaches, “you could produce false negatives.”

The restrictions in place along with the tracing and testing are painting a picture that New Zealand can potentially manage.

“We have to be cautious”, Hayman shares, on the number of positive cases in New Zealand.

Without widespread community testing, you can never be sure that there isn't circulation.

Peter asks what the difference is between community transmission and a cluster, to which Hayman explains a cluster is “if it came from abroad and they can trace the person” and community transmission is when “you can't trace who and where the infected person got covid-19 from.”

Hayman believes those returning from overseas should “absolutely” go straight into quarantine, however they might not want to test every single person if there is a shortage of kits.

“There are broader issues” around using a blood test, Hayman explains, it’s not as effective as the one the New Zealand government is using, which tells us “does that person have the virus and do they have it now.”

Peter finishes by asking Hayman if and when we get a vaccine, how long would it take to reduce the risk and normal life around the world could resume?

Listen to the full interview above.