Audit of Contact Tracing for Covid-19 in New Zealand

Effective contact tracing is essential in limiting the spread of a virus., and that has been brought to public and Government attention with the current Covid-19 pandemic.  A report has been done on it in relation to Covid-19 has been done by Dr Ayesha Verrall of University of Otago.

She says the contact tracing system in place when Covid-19 pandemic started was inadequate.

RNZ: Contact tracing too slow, must be expanded – audit

Contact tracing needs to increase three- or four-fold as long as the Covid-19 coronavirus remains a health threat, Dr Ayesha Verrall’s audit has found.

Authored by infectious diseases expert Dr Ayesha Verrall, it said public health units’ contact tracing capability was too slow and must be expanded three- or four-fold as long as the virus remained a health threat.

“The capacity of the 12 Public Health Units in New Zealand is the primary factor limiting New Zealand’s ability to scale up its case management and contact tracing response to Covid-19,” she said in the audit.

“In March the workload of PHUs exceeded their capacity to conduct rapid contact tracing on occasion, even though case numbers were less than 100 per day,” she said.

Expansion of the workforce was an “urgent” need, and DHBs could not keep on plugging the holes by seconding staff from other areas once alert level 4 was lifted, the audit said.

She said that as it stood she would not have been comfortable with the country going to alert level 3 this week.

“Not as it is. But these improvements I understand are being made every day, the government appears to be putting a lot of resource into it and accepted the recommendations in my report, so in that case, yes I would be [comfortable],” she told Checkpoint.

The detail of how small bubbles would be maintained under level 3 gave her reassurance, she said.

 


Rapid Audit of Contact Tracing for Covid-19 in New Zealand

On 9 April 2020 I met with Ministry of Health Officials and National Close Contact Service workers and interviewed Medical Officers of Health by telephone. This report summarises my findings and makes recommendations for improvements to contact tracing to control Covid-19 in New Zealand.

 

 

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29 Comments

  1. National’s Health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says Report into contact tracing paints damning picture

    “It shows a system where data collection, reporting and join-up is poor and to this day there is a general lack of timeliness.

    “Despite being conducted two weeks into lockdown, the report made no fewer than six ‘urgent’ or ‘critical’ recommendations on how to improve New Zealand’s contact tracing ability.

    “At the time of the audit only 60 per cent of contacts could be easily reached by phone, either because of incorrect contact details or because people choose not to answer calls from an unidentified number. These are the basics.

    Those would be difficult problems to overcome. You can’t make people update their contact details or answer the phone.

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  21st April 2020

      I got a mobile call from the police a couple of days ago which I suspected was a contact tracing follow-up where the wrong number had been given or recorded.

      Reply
      • I am wary about answering unknown numbers because of all the fake/nuisance calls that I had a while ago. As so many people had these, it’s not surprising that they don’t answer calls from unknown numbers,

        Reply
      • Duker

         /  21st April 2020

        One of your secret glampers gave you up Wilco ?

        The GCSB has also been on call helping the tracers for those who cant explain their movements, but [deleted, don’t speculate on things like that – PG]

        Reply
        • Wouldn’t the obvious thing to do be to tell people the number so that they’ll know it isn’t spam and/or a hang up call, and make it an easy one to identify ? I must admit that many of the fakes are obvious, because they have so many digits that they can’t be real, but some are not.

          Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  21st April 2020

          No secrets to hide there, Duker. And no unhappy customers. I doubt the police want to invite a law suit that might unleash thousands of others either.

          Reply
  2. Jacinda Ardern just said on RNZ that contract tracing deficiencies are not the reason for extending the lockdown by 5 days, even though some had said we shouldn’t come out of lockdown until tracing was ‘gold standard’.

    Reply
    • In that case we’d all be in our cages for life. Did she say what the reason was ?

      Reply
    • Corky

       /  21st April 2020

      Probably because of the ANZAC holiday.

      Reply
      • Which is five days later than the end of the four weeks that we were told the lockdown would last.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  21st April 2020

          There was no committeemen at the beginning that 4 weeks was the max ..just initial period.
          Because it started at an odd time of the week – Thurs means the 4 weeks finished at the same place, but the Mondayised Anzac weekend created another break.
          And yes most places are closed April 25th morning still.
          really its only 2 ‘business days’ as it rules out Sat morning , Sunday and Monday( holiday)
          For 2 days they got another 5 of lockdown

          Reply
      • Corky

         /  21st April 2020

        Exactly.

        Reply
  3. David

     /  21st April 2020

    Anyone seen the Minister of Health, is the extended lock down because he has been discovered doing another breach.

    Reply
  4. Gezza

     /  21st April 2020

    Bugger the rules. 🖕🏼 I’m going stir crazy. I’m going out for a drive. 😐

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  21st April 2020

      Had one the other day too, G. I try to break at least one silly law or regulation every day just to show I’m alive.

      Reply
      • I went for a bus trip to Pak & Save yesterday instead of going to Countdown which is much closer. The driver lets us in and out of the front door, bless her. I put some books in the little library book box and took one out that I didn’t wipe down. I broke rules and I’m not sorry.

        Ny dogfriends’ father and I had a talk less than 2m apart.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  21st April 2020

          I had an illicit hug the other day too, Kitty. Delicious wickedness.

          And last night I pruned errant braces from a different bubbler’s mouth. Life on the edge up here.

          Reply
          • I know who’s going in to help my mother’s friend in Wanganui and I haven’t dobbed them in.

            The Three Sinners of YNZ, Unrepentant all.

            Reply
      • Gezza

         /  21st April 2020

        I finally drove to the Stebbings Dam walk to check it,

        Gave the thumbs up to 2 Maori roadies (& got it back with a big grin & a bop or two) while waiting for the Go; ‘cos they had The Reggae King belting out from a ghetto blaster:

        Beautiful, glorious sunny day all day. Perfect for a little nature excursion.

        But now I’m hanging out for me regular $10 Chinese smorgasboard takeaway 😐

        Reply
        • I want a really nice cup of bought coffee and a muffin…brought to my table by one of the friendly waitresses at the Sky City coffee bar.

          Reply
  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  21st April 2020

    Continuing confusion over asymptomatic and unreported cases. New antibody testing shows huge number of unreported cases but doubts over false positives remain:
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-usa-serology/los-angeles-coronavirus-infections-40-times-greater-than-known-cases-antibody-tests-suggest-idUSKBN22234S

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  21st April 2020

      Those serology test papers [Santa Clara County was last weeks one] are largely debunked because false positives.. havent been peer reviewed but journos love the click bait.
      There is also the concern over sensitivity as other human coronviruses are very common and cause colds. Are they picking up people who have had a cold as every person has
      very slightly different antibodies to CV infection

      Reply
  6. Higherstandard

     /  21st April 2020

    Meanwhile at the bog (AKA the Standard) anyone found saying anything less than positive and adulatory about the government and the PM is shouted down or banned…

    Reply
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