Government must release more outbreak data

The Government needs to be much more upfront and release more comprehensive data about the current Covid-19 community outbreak, National’s Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop says.

“National, like commentators and public health experts, is calling on the Government and Ministry of Health to be more transparent. Journalists shouldn’t have to negotiate and request with the Ministry of Health daily for basic information that helps the public understand the current outbreak.

“Raw numbers each day are no longer adequate. The Ministry must release more sophisticated information like other jurisdictions do. New Zealanders are entitled to know what is going on.

There are five pieces of information that should be released daily:

  1. A further breakdown of the raw number of total contacts, specifically listing how many of the high risk “close plus” contacts have been tested and what the test results show.
  2. Much more detail about the number of cases each day, including if they are household contacts, if they contracted Covid-19 from or at a location of interest, an essential workplace, or if the source is presently unknown.
  3. How many essential workers have tested positive and how many were infectious in the community.
  4. Whether there has been community transmission of Covid-19 outside of a household bubble since the lockdown.
  5. What the current estimated effective “R” is.

“Many people are becoming anxious that, this far into lockdown, our daily case numbers continue to rise. These rising case numbers may not be cause for concern if the public can see that the bulk of our cases are in fact household or other close contacts.

“It is also odd that there has been little mention of the all-important R rate since this lockdown began. It is critical the curve bends down and the R rate falls well below 1 and stays there, otherwise the lockdown could be expected to drag on require even tougher restrictions to stamp out Covid.

“New Zealanders are entitled to know how well the lockdown is working and the R rate is the easiest way to transmit that information.

“We also need more clarity on what is happening with the investigation into how Covid-19 made its way from the Crowne Plaza MIQ facility into the community, which is why we are in lockdown in the first place.

“We need to know what the status of the investigation and what the next steps are. Finding out how this happened is critical so we can fix any holes in MIQ and make sure we avoid this happening again.”