There are six new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, all in managed isolation.
Ministry of Health officials have just provided today's update.
Of the six, two are from the US, three are from the UK and one is from South Africa.
Four of the cases - the three from the UK and one from South Africa - are in quarantine in Auckland. The two from the US are in Christchurch.
One of the new cases has been classified as historical and deemed not infectious, the ministry said.
Three previously reported cases have now recovered, meaning the total number of active cases in New Zealand is 85. They are all in isolation.
The statement reads:
No additional UK or South Africa variants have been identified in genome sequencing from the latest weekly sequencing run by ESR and reported to the Ministry. Due to a post-holiday season related lag, positive samples from Auckland were not included in this sequencing run and will be sequenced and reported on Wednesday.
"All travellers arriving into New Zealand - excluding Australia, Antarctica, and some Pacific nations - are required to have day 0/1 tests and stay in their rooms until the result is known. This requirement will be progressively introduced over three days starting today.
Transit passengers to Fiji
The Ministry has been contacted by Fiji’s health authorities due to two people presenting positive for COVID-19 on day 12 testing in Nadi. The two passengers had transited through Doha, Brisbane via Auckland on 24 December 2020.
There are robust procedures in place for passengers transiting through New Zealand in place at our airports. Transiting passengers remain airside at the airport and border staff apply the same precautions to them that they do to all passengers including PPE, physical distancing and infection prevention and control procedures.
We have confirmed that of the passengers from the Doha/Brisbane flight whose final destination was Auckland, all have completed managed isolation with no positive cases reported.
Norway vaccine programme
Medsafe is aware of reports about a number of deaths in elderly people in Norway who had received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. It’s reported that the deaths occurred in very frail patients who may have had only weeks or months to live, and that further investigation into these deaths will take place.
We are closely monitoring this situation as well as the results of the vaccine rollout out in other countries, including reported reactions and the overall safety profile of the vaccine. This includes the frequency of some reactions, the severity, and any previously unknown reactions. This monitoring will add to the clinical data we expect to receive from Pfizer.
Medsafe will stay in contact with the European Medicines Agency as the vaccine rollout continues and will also continue to work with Pfizer and other companies producing vaccines.
As with all medicines, Medsafe will thoroughly evaluate the COVID-19 vaccines to make sure they are safe, effective and appropriate for use in New Zealand.
The Norwegian Medicines Agency reports that their Institute of Public Health guidelines have been updated to include more detailed advice on vaccinating the frail elderly.
In New Zealand vaccine safety and efficacy is the priority. No vaccine will be made available for public use in New Zealand until it has completed Medsafe’s assessment process and been approved as safe for use here.
The Ministry of Health and ESR have been looking into the potential role of saliva PCR testing as part of further strengthening our existing testing regime at the border.
In parallel, ESR is about to commence saliva testing of Air New Zealand aircrew as part of research into testing for COVID-19. This research, which complements current work underway with the Ministry, will be provided to the Ministry of Health.
It is important that any new testing methods are appropriate for the New Zealand context and fit with other initiatives to protect New Zealanders from COVID-19. Saliva testing is considered a good additional option for those that require frequent testing, such as border workers, where saliva based testing can complement regular nasopharyngeal testing.
Using the PCR nasopharyngeal swabbing method is considered the gold standard for COVID testing as it detects the virus the most effectively. Border workers in New Zealand will continue to be tested on a regular, routine basis with the nasopharyngeal swabs due to their high sensitivity in detecting the virus.