COVID-19: Experts fear that 'more than 100 people' could be infected

The AM Show 18/08/2021

New Zealand has gone into a nationwide lockdown after the discovery of a community case of COVID-19 in Auckland on Tuesday afternoon. Today it was revealed that the case has the highly infectious Delta variant and four new cases have also been confirmed.

Disease modelling expert Shaun Hendy joined The AM Show this morning and said that the average Delta variant infection rate is 5 ½ to 6 ½ people. He went on to say,

"It could be a lot less than that or it could be significantly more. That's why it's important people check those locations of interest."

"The big question at the moment is whether we're looking at the tip of the iceberg,"

"It's not so much who this person may have gone on to infect, although that's obviously important; it's who infected him? Does that mean there are a large number of other cases out there at the moment? That's the crucial variable…"

"If there's a plausible link to the border, that's telling us that there might be fewer cases out there at the moment. If we can't spot that link to the border, then we're looking at a situation similar to what we faced in August in Auckland last year - at the time we discovered that cluster, around 50 people had been infected at that point."

Modelling expert Michael Plank said in an article to RNZ, 

"But if the virus has been spreading undetected for a significant period of time, there could easily be more than 100 people infected by now and a strict lockdown is our only available option."

"If we all play our part, there's every reason to think this outbreak can eventually be crushed. How long that takes will depend on how many other people have been infected."

"In the meantime, it's time for the team of five million to come together once again to stay home and save lives - and tune in once again for Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield's afternoon press conferences for the latest updates."