Some front-line health workers are petitioning the Government to activate Covid-19 alert level 4 immediately.
The petition’s author, Dr Kelvin Ward, said raising the alert to the highest possible level was the only way for New Zealand to ensure it survives the virus with minimal impact.
The petition is calling for:
• Quarantine, not self-isolation, of all Covid-19 positive patients
• Extensive testing and contact tracing
• Self-isolation of all asymptomatic contacts
• Mandatory social lockdown
“If we want to prevent this epidemic becoming exponential, we have to take some drastic measures,” Ward said.
Ward first created the petition on Change.org but it amassed more than 40,000 signatures from the public in less than 24 hours.
There is now a separate letter for healthcare workers to sign.
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Bloomfield yesterday afternoon said the alert level was staying at 2 because there was still no evidence of community outbreak, though two possible cases were still being investigated.
Alert level 2 means Covid-19 is “contained but risk of community transmission growing” and human contact must be further reduced – over-70s have been told to stay at home and everyone needs to limit domestic travel.
Ward, who is an urgent care physician, handed the Change.org petition to Bloomfield outside the Ministry of Health in Wellington yesterday afternoon.
He said a wide-range of health professionals had signed the petition, including urgent care physicians, intensive care specialists, surgeons, nurses and pharmacists.
Raising the alert level to 4 would mean full lockdown of all non-essential businesses, rationing supplies, severe travel restrictions and major reprioritisation of healthcare facilities. Supermarkets will stay open regardless of the alert level.
Ward said community transmission was almost inevitable but New Zealand could limit it by activating alert level 4.
“We know that there is a burden of disease in the community which hasn’t been detected and we will not know that burden until days, or weeks, later.”
Ward said there was a lot of evidence voluntary self-isolation didn’t work and referred to the reports of tourists flouting the rules after coming to New Zealand.
“All it takes is one contact for it to potentially spread widely in just a few weeks.
“Many patients show only minor symptoms but they can then transmit the disease to those more vulnerable, causing unnecessary harm and death.”
Ward said he believed if New Zealand waited for community transmission before instigating a lockdown, it would be too late.
In his speech to media, Ward referred to “Patient 31” in South Korea who ignored the order to self-isolate and is believed to be behind a rapid rise in cases there.
He also said there were religious leaders who have declared they’ll stay open despite the outbreak.
Last week, Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki said he would stay open but after the rules on mass gatherings being introduced, made Sunday’s service a drive-in one so people could watch from their cars or from their homes online.
Ward also urged everyone to practise physical distancing despite the alert level remaining at 2.
Source Website Covid 19 coronavirus: Front-line health workers and other medical staff want alert le