A Note From New Zealand

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May 15, 2020 10:15 p.m.

TPM Reader CE checks in from New Zealand …

Just read your latest and was astounded to see that Slovenia has declared an end to their Covid epidemic. I’m not sure what sort of epidemeologists are advising their government, but at least from an animal health point of view I would never call that an “end” or “eradication”. They’re certainly in the elimination phase, but…

Slovenia may have below 7 cases per day for two weeks, but their recovery percentage, which is a quick way of determining the combination of when their cases started and how far along the epidemic curve they are, shows they at about 74.5%. Sorry, but that’s not the “end”.

Here in New Zealand, with over twice the population of Slovenia, the last time we had 7 cases in a day was on April 20. We’ve just had a string of 5 days with either 0 cases (4 of those days), or 1 case (it looks like the PCR picked up a partial bit of the RNA strand in someone who hadn’t shown symptoms in over a month, meaning that it most likely wasn’t infective). Our two week average is exactly 1.0 (14 cases total). Our recovery percentage is 95%, and almost all those remaining are travellers recently returned from abroad and in strict quarantine.

Despite all that, and the fact that we’re now experincing both the freedom and lack of fear of going back to more-or-less our normal lives, I don’t think our Ministry of Health would be so bold as to say that the epidemic is at an end. We’re still doing about 6,000+ surveillance tests per day in work places and geographic areas of known risk, and we’re actually still working on increasing our contact tracing capability.

At this point no one here seems to be thinking we won’t get at least a few more cases, even though they might only be a very occasional further traveller making their way back from overseas (and therefore in 14 day lock-up), or someone who has been in lock-down with a person with a known case. It is my understanding that in this second situation we have pretty much tested everyone in all of those known “clusters”.

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