COVID-19 team

Get in touch

0800 ESR MEDIA (0800 377 633) or 027 405 8644

or email

The coordinated incident management system team is comprised of epidemiologists, health intelligence analysts, public health medicine specialists, a clinical virologist, laboratory scientists, informaticians and bioinformaticians.

The team have in-depth experience in leading, and supporting national and local communicable disease responses, including emerging infectious diseases, such as SARS, pandemic influenza, MERS, zika and ebola. Two members of this team sit on the Ministry of Health Technical Advisory Group.

Lauren Jelley

LaurenJelley2 002 v2Lauren Jelley is a Senior Scientist in charge of the Clinical Virology Department based at the ESR’s National Centre for Biosecurity and Infectious Disease (NCBID) in Wellington. Since late January, her and the team have been undertaking routine screening and confirmation of COVID-19 cases, now including samples from the South Pacific.

Dr Lisa Oakley

Lisa Oakley sqDr Oakley is ESR’s Group Leader, Intelligence. Dr Oakley is leading teams of talented clinicians, epidemiologists and data scientists to provide surveillance and public health intelligence during the COVID-19 response and is one of ESR’s alternate Incident Controllers. She has a BSc. Microbiology and a PhD in Applied Epidemiology. Previously, Lisa has led teams focussed on risk assessment, surveillance and outbreak response across a number of government agencies and has been the Ministry of Health lead in responses to communicable diseases, such as measles, Zika and Ebola.

Angela Brounts

Angela Brounts March 2019 sqareAngela Brounts is the Health Science Manager at ESR.  She has operational responsibility for all the ESR’s public health laboratories in Wellington and Christchurch. Angela has been working closely with ESR laboratories to ensure they have everything they need to setup and continue SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic and confirmation testing and is providing daily reports to the NHCC on ESR’s laboratory capability. Angela has also collaborated with MFAT to set up a COVID-19 diagnostic testing service for pacific island nations.

Andrew Crooke

Andrew squareAndrew is the Data and Informatics Manager at ESR. He has a background in Medical Laboratory Science and Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS). His team manage and administer a number of systems including the National disease notifications system (EpiSurv), RedCap and ESR’s LIMS as well as delivering interactive dashboards for flu, STI and notifiable disease surveillance.  In the COVID-19 response Andrew has been leading ESRs informatics function. ESR is providing interactive Dashboards, a national results repository and automating data streams of surveillance information to the Ministry of Health to enhance and inform the national response.

Dr Andrea McNeill

Andrea McNeill sqDr McNeill has a PhD in Immunology and leads one of ESR’s epidemiology teams. In the COVID-19 response Andrea has been leading ESRs intelligence function.  ESR is providing intelligence updates to the Ministry of Health which incorporate international and national disease activity and emerging evidence to inform the national response and a more comprehensive risk assessments to the Ministry, which incorporates significant new information as it emerges.

Steve Brazier

Steve Brazier profile squareSteve joined the COVID-19 Incident Response Team as ESR’s Incident Controller for the sector-response. Steve has a background in strategic emergency management, most recently in Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet as Director of Security and Risk where he helped manage the government responses to issues such as the Pike River disaster, the Rena stranding  and other security related issues. Mr Brazier helped develop the New Zealand Influenza Pandemic Plan and the Infectious Disease Plan and was involved in setting up emergency management structures across the health sector.

Dr Virginia Hope

Ras Virginia sqaureDr Hope NZMN serves as Medical Director for ESR. Virginia is one of our alternate Incident Controllers and provides support for public health medicine input, liaison and laboratory response coordination.

Virginia is both a public health medicine specialist and a Fellow of the College of Medical Administrators.  She has a background in environmental public health, infectious disease surveillance and response, risk assessment and management, emergency management and response, medical leadership and governance at sector levels in Health and Biosecurity.

Dr Erasmus Smit

Ras Smit P Copy v3Dr Erasmus (Ras) Smit who joined ESR in 2018. Ras is New Zealand's only medically qualified practitioner specifically trained as a clinical virologist. He has helped to provide clinical leadership with ESR’s setup of their COVID-19 diagnostic tests. This work was done alongside laboratory staff at ESR’s National Centre for Biosecurity and Infectious Disease (NCBID) and staff from across the organisation.

Ras and the team continue to undertake routine screening and confirmation of COVID-19 cases while at the same time monitor the performance of the assays and explore the need to change testing strategies. Support is also provided to other diagnostic laboratories who want to set up their own testing service. Dr Smit is a member of the national Technical Advisory Group (TAG) and he works closely with the New Zealand Microbiology Network who distributes valuable information through regular communications with other testing laboratories.