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Bloomfield warns another COVID-19 community outbreak is inevitable

Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Bloomfield warns another COVID-19 community outbreak is inevitable

Dr Ashley Bloomfield says New Zealanders must prepare for COVID-19 community transmission in the future.

Bloomfield warns another COVID-19 community outbreak is inevitable

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says it’s inevitable New Zealand will see community transmission of COVID-19 again.

Speaking to Morning Report on Wednesday, Dr Bloomfield says community transmission is “a matter of when, not if.”

“We’re working on the basis that it could be at anytime … we have to be absolutely on our toes, and that’s not just the health system, that’s not just the contact tracing and testing system, it’s everybody.

“That’s the value and the importance of people getting into the habit of using the app, getting ready, and recording where they’ve been.”

The last locally acquired case of COVID-19 in New Zealand was reported 95 days ago.

Dr Bloomfield says if the country were to see a new case of community transmission, it may not mean a move up in alert levels straight away.

“We’re working on the basis that it could be at anytime … we have to be absolutely on our toes, and that’s not just the health system, that’s not just the contact tracing and testing system, it’s everybody.

“That’s the value and the importance of people getting into the habit of using the app, getting ready, and recording where they’ve been.”

Dr Bloomfield explained that registering on the NZ Covid Tracer app would help find, isolate and test cases earlier so as to mitigate any community spread.

More than 600,000 Kiwis have registered for the app, however, regular use has slowed down since the drop in cases.

“People are not tending to use the app, and that’s what we want to encourage them to do. I heard some comments ‘oh we’ll wait until the first case or wait until there’s transmission’,” Dr Bloomfield said.

“Remember the app keeps the record of where you’ve been for a month, and we actually need to look back to where people have been. So now’s the time to get the app and get used to using it.”

Will masks become mandatory?

Dr Bloomfield also shared that the ministry was looking into scenarios where wearing face masks may be mandatory, in light of the latest advice from the World Health Organisation.

“We’re looking at situations where masks might be deployed and recommended for the general population … our thinking at the moment is that even at alert level 2 we would be encouraging people to use them in confined spaces, so public transport, shops and so on,” he said.

The ministry has yet to make a final decision on the wearing of face masks, however, Dr Bloomfield has encouraged the public to stock them at home in the case of an emergency.

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