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Aotearoa needs to prioritise Covid-19 response, says epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker

28 April, 2023 

By Jack Cormack-Neto 

Professor Michael Baker (pictured) says stamping out Covid-19 requires an ongoing effort by everyone. Photo: Provided by the University of Otago.

Listen to the full interview 

Epidemiologist Micheal Baker is calling for Covid-19 to be top of mind as we enter a fourth wave of cases. 

Aotearoa is seeing a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections, the majority of which, according to Baker, are likely to be reinfections. 

Baker told 95bFM that the fourth wave is potentially driven by a rise in the XBB subvariant, which has become dominant in the last two months.

Baker said this recent spike in cases has forced many New Zealanders to take time off work. 

“The pandemic is still damaging our health, and, across the globe, businesses are still reporting mass absenteeism as a result of this.” 

Baker said Covid-19 is an ongoing issue that must be prioritised, especially as we approach the 2023 General Election. 

“Whether you sit left or right on the political spectrum should not affect our views on these fundamental positive benefits of better public health.”

As the pandemic continues into its third year, Baker acknowledged that many are feeling fatigued from the continued use of restrictions. 

But Baker argued that reducing case numbers requires everyone to act responsibly.

“[Covid] is similar to pushing down the road toll or other public health issues we have, and it does require an ongoing effort by everyone.”

He said continuing the mandated seven-day isolation after a positive test result, testing and staying home if you are sick, and introducing surveillance testing like sentinel testing, will give Aotearoa the best protection heading into winter. 

For more information about Aotearoa’s Covid-19 guidelines, see the Ministry of Health website.