19 new cases in the community today, more than twice that at the border

Adam Pearse, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 6 Jan 2022, 2:45pm

19 new cases in the community today, more than twice that at the border

Adam Pearse, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 6 Jan 2022, 2:45pm

There are 19 new Covid-19 cases in the community today, the Ministry of Health says. 

Of today's 19 cases in the community, six are in Auckland, five in Waikato, five in Bay of Plenty, one in Northland and two in Taranaki. 

There is an extra case in Taranaki but as it came in after today's cut-off time, it will be reported alongside tomorrow's numbers. 

There are 43 new cases at the border, up from 23 yesterday. 

The ministry says it is likely the Omicron variant will be prevalent at the border. Whole genome sequencing of these new cases is expected soon. 

From tomorrow, a pre-departure PCR test will be required within 48 hours of departure for anyone trying to enter New Zealand, down from 72 hours. 

However, an exemption has been made for travellers coming from 105 specified countries and jurisdictions where "obtaining a PCR test may be difficult or not possible, can instead provide evidence of a negative rapid antigen test (RAT) or loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) test result". 

Those tests would need to be taken within 24 hours of departure and must be supervised by a health professional (which included pharmacists) and verified in writing in the jurisdiction of origin. 

The places which are exempt from the requirement for a PCR test within 48 hours of departure, and for which a RAT or LAMP test is allowed as an alternative to a PCR test are available on the Unite Against Covid-19 website. 

There are 38 people with Covid-19 in hospital - five at North Shore, 14 at Auckland, 15 at Middlemore and four at Tauranga. 

Four of those people are in intensive care or high dependency units, two each at Middlemore and Tauranga. 

Just 17 cases had been found yesterday, while the seven-day rolling average had dropped to 41 cases - the lowest it's been since October 12. 

Of yesterday's community cases, five were in Auckland, three in Waikato, and nine in Bay of Plenty. 

Two further cases had been found in Taranaki but would be added to today's tally as they were reported after yesterday's cut-off period. 

The Emergency Department at Taranaki Base Hospital had been identified as an exposure event. The Taranaki DHB was working with those who may be affected. 

No DHB staff had yet been stood down. 

Anyone at the Taranaki ED between Saturday, January 1 at 6.30pm and midnight on Sunday, January 2, would be considered a casual contact. 

The two cases in Taranaki were household contacts of each other, however, their link to another case had yet to be determined. Public health staff were continuing to investigate to determine links to any previously reported cases in the region. 

There were 23 further cases at the border yesterday. Omicron was expected to be the "most prevalent variant" at the border, the ministry says, and whole genome sequencing was under way to establish how many new cases are Omicron. 

On Tuesday, the ministry announced a third border-related case of Omicron - a household contact of an Air New Zealand staffer who tested positive recently. 

There were still no locations of interest or exposure events linked to this person, and the risk to the community was considered to be extremely low. 

The person, who was fully vaccinated, had been in isolation for the entirety of their symptomatic period. 

Meanwhile, the interval between a person's second vaccine and their booster was officially reduced yesterday. 

Anyone 18 or over who has gone four months after their second vaccine dose could receive their booster shot. That's down from six months previously. 

People can book an appointment with the Covid Vaccination Healthline team on 0800 28 29 26, or they can visit a walk-in vaccination site. 

From January 17, people who had gone four months after their second dose could book their boosters on Book My Vaccine. For those who had waited six months or longer after their second dose, they could book their booster now on the site. 

In total, 1.2 million Kiwis had become eligible to get their booster from yesterday. 

The gap between the second and booster doses of the vaccine had been shortened due to the global emergence of the Omicron variant, which was more transmissible than previous strains. 

To ensure vaccination capacity was sufficient, Auckland's Airport Park and Ride drive-through vaccination centre had reopened. 

The drive-through was located at 42 Verissimo Drive, Māngere, and operated from 10am-5pm with no appointment needed. It could vaccinate more than 4000 people per day. 

Yesterday, the Northern Region Health Co-ordination Centre confirmed four further cases had been linked to a collection at Auckland escort agency and massage parlour, The Pelican Club, the total number rising to 10. 

Earlier this week, Auckland health officials expressed their concern that more positive cases and close contacts could be in the community. 

"Public health are therefore requesting anyone who visited the venue between 22 and 31 December contacts Healthline on 0800 358 5453 and follows the advice provided on the Locations of Interest website," the spokesperson said. 

It was unclear how many contacts were linked to The Pelican Club. 

The current advice is: 

  • Isolate (stay at home) for 10 days after the last visit to the Pelican Club.
  • Get tested on day 5 days and day 8 after they were last at the venue during these dates, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms.
  • If symptoms develop at any time during the 10 days, they should get an additional test immediately.
  • Stay at home until all test results come back negative.
  • Visit the Locations of Interest websiteto record their visit online or call Healthline on 0800 358 5453. This is so contact tracers can provide further advice.

Health officials said the club's workers were getting specific advice from their manager.