The most challenging phase of the Omicron outbreak is yet to come, but NZ may be better prepared than other countries
In an article on The Conversation, senior lecturer Dr Matthew Hobbs (UC), Post Doctoral Fellow Lukas Marek (UC) and Dr Anna Howe (UOA) explain what advantages Aotearoa has over other countries to manage the Omicron outbreak.
We are yet to see the rapid and steep rise in new Omicron cases that has been predicted. This could be because of asymptomatic transmission, but it is equally likely because public health measures included in the first phase of the “stamp it out strategy” have been effective.
For now, managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) at the border is successfully stopping hundreds of cases from entering the community. While MIQ may soon change in purpose, border restrictions may not lift until the Omicron wave passes.
The country-wide return to red settings under the COVID-19 protection framework has bought New Zealand time to learn from experiences abroad. The most challenging phase is yet to come but New Zealand could be well placed to tackle it.
The best way forward is to limit widespread transmission for as long as possible. This reduces opportunities for the virus to replicate, which is when mutations occur, potentially extending the pandemic.