“The latest modelling from Covid-19 Modelling Aotearoa backs up ACT’s February call to scrap the 7-day isolation period,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Covid-19 Modelling Aotearoa compare New Zealand’s current isolation settings with a shortened two test to release policy, they concluded that “as well as a decrease in the overall time spent in isolation for confirmed cases. This policy results in a 40% reduction in the number of cases infectious at release and hours infectious post-release. It is also expected to deliver a 8% decrease in the total hours spent in isolation for confirmed cases, but a 20% decrease in the total number of excess hours spent in isolation by cases that are no longer infectious.”

“ACT argued these points in our February Move On document. We said “Isolation periods which are too long may actually increase the spread of the disease. If people are afraid of excessive isolation periods, they are less likely to get tested and to comply with contact tracers… very few people remain infectious 10 days after their first positive test… If entire workplaces — or even a sufficiently large proportion of their workforce — are struck down by excessive isolation periods, our economy could soon grind to a halt.”

“The isolation periods are unworkable, allowing a person to take two weeks off for a household case then their own, even if they themselves are infectious for only a few days. We should take Singapore’s approach of 72 hours isolation, negative test and you’re out.

“Keeping people locked in their houses longer than is necessary imposes real costs to them and the economy, without improving our COVID-19 response. We need a COVID-19 response that considered all the costs to New Zealanders’ wellbeing as well as the benefits of fighting COVID-19 when putting controls in place.  

“Fundamentally, other countries were out of the blocks, moving on from COVID as early as possible. We are holding on to a long COVID hangover. It turns out an ‘abundance of caution’ is an abundance of cost for New Zealanders.

“More generally, the Government needs to take a leaf from ACT’s book in its approach to setting COVID priorities. Going right back to our first COVID policy Paper in August 2020, A Wellbeing Approach to COVID, we’ve said the Government needs to balance all human needs, because COVID is important but it is not our only problem.

“One of the reasons we have a cost of living crisis is broken supply chains caused by staff shortages. The Government could fix this by adopting the Singaporean policy recommended by ACT nearly six months ago. After 72 hours of isolation and a negative test, you’re free to go.”

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David Seymour