Strategic shift from mitigation to suppression of Covid-19

New Zealand appears to be shifting from mitigation (“flatten the curve”) of the Covid-19 to “one of stamping it out and elimination” of the coronavirus until a vaccine is developed – “which is at least January 2021″.

From WRITTEN BRIEFING TO THE EPIDEMIC RESPONSE COMMITTEE (from John Ombler, All of Government Controller)

Standing up the national response to COVID-19

1. In the two months since the National Security System was first established in response to COVID-19 (January 27), there have been several significant and fast paced actions taken to ensure the leadership and organisation of the national response to COVID-19 is appropriately configured for the magnitude of the event. These actions have been taken to:

  • respond to the growing magnitude of the challenge that COVID-19 presents to New Zealand and New Zealanders
  • respond to a strategic shift from mitigation or “flatten the curve” approach to the current stamp it out and elimination strategy
  • broaden and deepen the national effort to increase the pace of delivery for a series of critical interventions and measures.

9. We have made a key strategic shift from a strategy of mitigation to one of stamping it out and elimination. We do not want to end up in a scenario of widespread outbreaks which would significantly overwhelm the health system, as we have seen in Italy, Spain and other countries that have experienced extensive outbreaks. Our current strategy centres around breaking the chain of community transmission through tougher public health measures, in particular intense physical distancing and travel restrictions, which are set out in Alert Level 4.

10. The strategy does incur significant economic and social disruption, but if we are successful at eliminating COVID-19 from New Zealand we will have better economic and social outcomes. Widespread outbreaks would lead to major health, economic and social impacts for New Zealand.

COVID-19 Mitigation versus suppression

  • Our strategy is focusing on keeping COVID-19 out, stamping it out and slowing it down.
  • Our aim is to prevent widespread outbreaks. Allowing widespread outbreaks (ie trajectories along the orange and blue curves (‘flattening the curve’)) will significantly overwhelm the health system.
  • The strategy centres on border restrictions, intense testing, aggressive contact tracing, and stringent self-isolation and quarantine.
  • Physical distancing will also be required to varying degrees as we continue along this path.
  • We can call this a suppression strategy.
  • Should outbreaks occur, a suppression strategy aims to reverse epidemic growth through tougher public health measures – eg by more intense physical distancing and travel restrictions.
  • The aim is to ensure that health system capacity is not exceeded through strengthening public health measures.
  • When cases fall, public health measures can be eased slightly.
  • This cycle repeats itself (refer squiggly green line).
  • However, we must still prepare for times when capacity of the health system is exceeded by having ‘surge’ options.
  • A suppression strategy does incur significant economic and social disruption. Longer periods of physical distancing, including school closures, will be required.
  • However, many lives will be saved and more people remain well so are able to operate the economy and the health care system.
  • We would need to maintain this approach until a vaccine is developed, which is at least January 2021, and/or the global pandemic has passed.
  • This approach is distinct from a mitigation strategy, which focuses on reducing the size of the peak (ie moving from the orange curve to the blue curve).

Leave a comment


  1. Duker

     /  1st April 2020

    The graph vertical axis begins at 100,000 cases….is this their idea of ‘stamped out’, keeping it under 75,000 cases?
    I would think some one has misplaced the 0s. Don’t they mean 750 or less.

  2. Gerrit

     /  1st April 2020

    One scratches ones head with the stupidity of it all. .

    “Covid 19 coronavirus: No quarantine for 3600 people returning to NZ from overseas ”


    Why are 5 million New Zealanders in lock down again? What is the strategy?

    There is no strategy.

    • Gezza

       /  1st April 2020

      You might just have to be satisfied with Jacinda giving the 20-29 year olds a blistering serve for being the biggest cohort of people testing positive for Covid-19.

      Obviously they are not taking any notice of a young mum PM many of whose votes have come from that group & who she has up until now wooed by striving to appear be especially in touch with them.

      That may have a negative reaction from the young & bulletproof.

  3. Corky

     /  1st April 2020

    Good to see authorities are taking my advice and are thinking about random testing. Even knocking on doors isn’t off the table. It’s the only way they will gauge community spread.
    However, the police would need to be present at all times. Some folk won’t take kindly to having authorities knocking on their door. Others like myself would want to know what happens to the samples. Is the DNA profiled and stored?

    If they employed a medical dowser their job would be made so much easier. Instant results that could be prioritised for testing.

    • Duker

       /  2nd April 2020

      You mean the tracking devices being implanted deep into your nostrils …be very afraid
      The deep state is going even deeper than just your fillings , ‘like they used to’

  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  1st April 2020

    Flattening the curve is moronic. The same number die from the virus plus you destroy the economy and many more die and are financially and morally destroyed from that.

    Elimination can only be justified if it can be done quickly and allows a maintenance regime that lets life resume normally and consistently.

    • Duker

       /  2nd April 2020

      The Swedish approach isnt directly decided by the politicians in Stockholm but their independent Public Health Agency-Folkhälsomyndigheten–folkhalsomyndigheten/

      So its not driven by ‘must save the economy’ approach but sensible measures made by experts in their field that should work for the risks involved. Im sure they know the numbers who die from flu and complications each year as well as thenumbers from the Diamond Princess ‘experiment’


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