ZB

146 Covid cases, Omicron expected to spread to NZ

Author
Michael Neilson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 1 Dec 2021, 12:37pm

146 Covid cases, Omicron expected to spread to NZ

Author
Michael Neilson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 1 Dec 2021, 12:37pm

There are 146 new cases today as the country prepares to enter the traffic light system.

One hundred and twenty-four of those are in Auckland, 14 in Waikato, 4 in BOP, and 1 in Nelson-Tasman.

The new case in Nelson is in addition to yesterday's 3 but added to the tally today, director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said.

Eighty-three people are in hospital today, two in Waikato and the remainder in Auckland.

He showed hospitalisation tracking modelling showed from early November and ICU bed use, and that it has eased off as has ICU bed usage.

While the hospitalisation rate throughout the outbreak had been between 11 and 12 per cent, the proportion of people requiring ICU has dropped from 5.7 per cent down to 3 per cent in the last month or so.

That's due to vaccination as it prevents people being hospitalised and good work of clinicians.

He issued a reminder that if you did have Covid symptoms, dry cough, sore throat loss of smell or taste, runny nose, do still get tested straight away.

The number of locations published will increase as pubs and gyms will be open so he asked people to continue to scan.

It comes as new cases of Covid-19 have emerged at the top of the South Island and the Government launches a new recovery package for Auckland.

Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins gave a shout out to 86 per cent of Kiwis who have had both doses of the vaccine.

Ninety-three per cent of eligible Kiwis have had one dose and the country is on track to exceed 90 per cent overall if demand continued at this level.

Jabs for 5+

On the vaccination of 5 to 11-year-olds, there was still work to do but the Government was advanced in planning. Children had a lower risk of direct health impacts but Covid can still have health impacts for them including those with respiratory symptoms, Hipkins said.

The child dose was about 1/3 of the adult dose. Buying it was conditional on it being approved by MedSafe.

They were expecting to roll it out before the end of January and had been talking to Pfizer about supplies with that deadline pending approval.

Traffic light system

The traffic light system will see Auckland exit lockdown and into the red setting with a return of many activities including hospitality. You can watch the press conference live here.

Much of the country, including the entire South Island, will move to the orange setting which removes gathering limits for locations using vaccine passes.

Hipkins said it was recognition that NZ had moved into a new phase of its Covid response. The framework was pretty simple but at each setting vaccinated people will be able to operate more normally with their vaccine pass.

There have been 2.8m vaccine passes issued. For about 90 per cent of people the fastest way to get it was online otherwise they can be brought to a pharmacy to have it printed.

At orange level, life will be almost like level 1, Hipkins said. Red will be more restrictive. The Government had been working hard to get the balance right and there would be some teething issues along the way.

"Mask, scan and pass" will get people through summer, Hipkins said.

Omicron likely to arrive in NZ

On Omicron, Hipkins said there was a bit of anxiety about the new variant.

He wanted to clear it was cause for concern, "but not a cause for panic".

The Government had prepared for a new variant and it was "ready and had plans in place".It was still in its infancy but they were monitoring it.

PSR samples from any cases that are identified at the border are being prioritised for genome sequencing so the Government will know as soon as it arrives in New Zealand, Hipkins said.

"We do need to use a comprehensive approach to battle Covid, including vaccines, testing, mask-wearing," he said.Hipkins' advice was that vaccine was the number one protection including against Delta.

Asked if it's just a matter of time for Omicron, Hipkins replied "I would say so".If it would extend border restrictions, he said they were still planning for Jan and Feb cohorts and it was under constant review. He said it was a possibility it could be extended.

Meanwhile Te Tai Tokerau Border Control founder Hone Harawira reiterated today that local iwi intended to set up their own roadblocks over summer.

The group had reached a level where it was a general call from all of the iwi and all of the local district health boards for only fully vaccinated people to be allowed in Northland until 90 per cent of their population was fully vaccinated.

"This is huge, this is the level of concern across the district."

"It has come to a point where we ask everybody who isn't double vaxxed to stay home."

"The doors are still open."Those who were double vaxxed were welcome, he told The AM Show.

Harawira said they were wanting to work with police as much as possible, but they intended for there to be roadblocks checking people's vaccination status.

"I just think the Prime Minister needs to clarify this thing. Double vaxxed or a test, that's a recipe for disaster."

New National leader Chris Luxon today described iwi roadblock plans as "nuts".

New locations of interest were announced last night, including a McDonald's restaurant, service station, fruit and vege store and liquor store.

Ninety per cent of eligible Nelson Marlborough residents have received their first dose. While 84 per cent of residents in that region are now fully vaccinated.

Of the Waikato cases, four are in Te Kuiti, one in Huntly, one in Hamilton, one in Ngāruawāhia and one in Te Awamutu.

In the Bay of Plenty, one case is in Whakatāne, three in Tauranga and five in the wider Western Bay of Plenty area. All are close contacts of previously reported cases.

The new Northland case is in Kaitaia and public health interviews are under way to establish the link.

Wellington's Brentwood Hotel also emerged as a location of interest yesterday.

Health officials said: "This Wellington location of interest relates to a visit from a Rotorua-based case. There is no new case in Wellington to report."Hotel guests were asked to self-monitor for Covid symptoms for 10 days.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a recovery package for Auckland earlier today. The city had faced more than 100 days of lockdown and businesses and families had borne the brunt of the restrictions, she said.

Aucklanders are being offered 100,000 vouchers over summer for a range of activities, along with funding for events and food support.

The scheme, launched today by the Government and Auckland Council, is akin to Covid economic recovery schemes adopted around the world, such as Boris Johnson's "Eat Out to Help Out" in the United Kingdom that provided over 100 million meals.