National | Covid-19 Testing

Wear more masks - plea from medical expert

With another announcement of government measures to help combat the rise of Covid-19 and flu cases and hospitalisations yesterday, senior Auckland University lecturer Dr Mataroria Lyndon (Tainui, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Wai, Ngāti Whātua, Ngāti Kahu) is echoing the government’s intention of not changing from Orange to Red in the Traffic Light system.

“The challenge with moving traffic lights would be the Covid fatigue and the cooperation of the public around additional restrictions,” he says. “I think what we can do is use this Orange traffic light, use the measures that we have in place but also using more masks in kura and public as well.”

Modelling shows that the BA.5 Omicron subvariant, which is the dominant subvariant of current cases in the country, is starting another Omicron wave and that it has yet to peak.

The measures announced yesterday include increasing access to antiviral medication to those most likely to end up in hospital, making free masks and RATs more widely available and making another push to lift the uptake of flu and Covid-19 vaccines including the second booster.

Pharmac is also broadening the eligibility criteria to enable more people from higher risk groups to access antiviral medications.

“I would have liked to see the mandating of masks in kura and when out in public like we had previously but it’s good to see now that RAT tests and masks are more available, and also new medicines like antivirals for Covid as well. We can use those measures that we had previously while using the new medicines.”