100 new cases; Govt secures millions more vaccine doses

There are 100 new cases of Covid-19 in the community today - 97 are in Auckland and three are in the Waikato.

There are no new cases in Northland today. The first result for the two mystery Northland cases is expected back tonight. The other is expected back tomorrow.

There are 58 people in hospital including three in ICU. Not all of those in hospital, however, are there because Covid is their primary diagnosis. For instance, some are pregnant.

Fifteen residents and four staff members of Edmonton Meadows Care Home in Henderson have now returned positive tests.

Three of the Covid-19 positive residents are receiving appropriate ward-level care at North Shore Hospital.

Of the Waikato cases, two are from Hamilton and one is from Ôtorohanga. Two are known contacts and were already in isolation and with daily public health contact and support.

There are no new cases in Christchurch again today; however, there are still four active cases in quarantine. There remain 22 locations of Interest in Canterbury – no new locations have been added in recent days.

Test results from additional wastewater samples collected in Christchurch are expected later today.

Do people in Canterbury still need to be worried? Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said there's been an epidemiological link and "there have been no other cases arise from those cases, so the feeling is they have been contained."

This contrasted with the country's biggest city: "One of the realities of Auckland is almost everywhere is a suburb of interest right now."

Tens of millions of people have now received the Pfizer vaccine. Photo: Reuters
The government has signed a purchase agreement for an additional 4.7 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Photo: Reuters

Millions more vaccine doses

The government, meanwhile, has signed a purchase agreement for an additional 4.7 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

They will be available throughout next year and be used for 5-11 years olds and a booster programme, among other things, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says.

They could also be used in the Pacific if needed.

There are currently 2.8 million doses in country and the Government expects another 1.5 million before the end of the year.

Boosters

Booster shots would be discussed by ministers soon, Bloomfield said.

"There was only one randomised" trial on this, Bloomfield said. But it did seem to reduce hospitalisation and serious illness.

The median time in that study between doses was 11 months. No one in New Zealand has been vaccinated that long, Bloomfield said.

Officials are ready to examine use of the Pfizer vax for 5-11 year olds "in the next few weeks", Bloomfield says.

"At this point, no other countries (aside from the US) have approved Pfizer for 5-11 year olds to this point."

"In the meantime, the best we can do to protect younger members ... is for everybody else who is eligible to get vaccinated."

In the UK, 12-15 year olds are recommended to have only one vaccine dose. Bloomfield was asked why two doses were provided here. He said the trial that was done had two doses, so the UK would seem to be the outlier.

Hipkins said it could be up to 11 or 12 months before boosters are doled out in NZ.

"There will be a minimum period of time between the second dose and the first dose."

Severely immunocompromised people should go to primary care for third doses, Bloomfield said.

"There's a clear list on the ministry's website of the conditions that are specifically included in that group."

They should contact their GP if they haven't been contacted already.

Around a million of next year's doses will be for 5-11s, Bloomfield said.

"The timing will be very much dependent on the supply," he said of the 5-11 rollout.

The booster rollout would be phased in, Hipkins said.

"We've had a low hospitalisation rate" in Auckland. "So that decision to vaccinate the over 65s (first) was sthe right decision."

Border cases

Bloomfield says there are 10 new cases in managed isolation today.

The first person arrived from Serbia and Montenegro via United Arab Emirates on October 23. They tested positive on day 6 and are isolating in Auckland.

Three flew into New Zealand on October 27 via Singapore. One is a contact of a case in Auckland, two others were picked up via routine testing. All three are in facilities in Auckland.

Also on October 27, a traveller flew in from Scotland via Singapore and is in MIQ in Auckland.

Three travellers from the United Kingdom - who also flew via Singapore, are isolating in Wellington and one person flew direct from Japan arriving on October 31. They are isolating in Christchurch.

With regards to people who have recovered from Covid around the country, in Auckland there are 1649 of a total 3553 cases, 45 of Waikato's 144 cases, three of Northland's 14 cases and all of Wellington's 17 cases. There is still one active case in Nelson/Marlborough and four in Canterbury.

In Waikato, two of today's cases are in Hamilton and one in Otorohanga. Two are known to be connected to existing cases - the other remains under investigation.

In Christchurch, more wastewater samples are expected later today.

"The labs are under a lot of pressure. Labs are working to share samples across the country.

"We continue to look closely at how we can get those results back as quickly as we can."

Tests in the Far North will be processed locally in Northland when urgent. They'll be sent to Auckland when not a priority.

Vaccination mandates, certificates and exemptions

For vaccine mandates and certificates, the Government is establishing a process for exemptions.

"There will be a similar, related process for people who need a vaccine certificate to go about their daily business," Hipkins said

"We will publicise it early next week."

People can apply online. "It will be a centralised process."

If you've received paperwork, "you will stil need to apply through a centralised process. If you have paid for that paperwork, you might want to ask for a refund."

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Director-general of Health Ashley Bloomfield. File...
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Director-general of Health Ashley Bloomfield. File photo
This will be "the only valid process" through which exemption paperwork can be obtained.

Hipkins says there have been reports of people "aggressively demanding exemptions from clinicians".

That's not acceptable, he said.

"That is a matter the police wil be involved with if necessary."

"If someone is offering to sell you an exemption ... they are trying to rip you off. Don't do it."

Hipkins said the Government was moving to a more standardised process for vaccination exemptions.

Hipkins asked what he'd say to teacher getting exemptions from osteopaths or other shady sources. "Obviously they're all anecdotes."

Most people are on board with vaccinations. "Yep, there will be a few people out there who have perhaps received misinformation about that."

Hipkins and Bloomfield were asked if Auckland hits 90 percent and no vax certificate system was in place, what would happen?

Hipkins said: "The stress testing of that system is happening now as we speak.

"We'll have the system ready to go before Auckland hits the 90 per cent mark."

People need to create their MyHealth record now, so they can simply switch on the certificate when it's ready. That's the most time consuming part, he said.

The My Covid Record website tells you when you had your two vaccines.

Once vaccine certificates are operating, QR code scanning is still important, Hipkins said.

"They're different systems ... different technology required for the different purposes they're being used for."

Saturday marks three weeks since Super Saturday, so reminders will be sent out to people who are now due their second jab, Hipkins said.

Hipkins said it is "notoriously difficult to predict" which DHBs will be the last to reach 90 percent.

"How long will we wait? The end of November is the time Cabinet will be checking in ...

"We've made a commitment not to leave people behind."

But if people choose to be left behind "that doesn't mean we're going to hold everyone else up."

Northland border rules

Hipkins said officials were not enforcing a hard border in the north of Northland: "It's more similar to the Waikato arrangement.

"The main message at alert level 3 .. .is people should be staying home. We want people to be minimising their activities as muchas possible ... while we try to identify the sources of these two particular cases."

Tonga case

The Tonga case has been reclassified now as a historic case.

Tonga officials were right in taking a very conservative approach, Bloomfield said.

"Using our criteria here, we would classify it as a historical case."

DNA sequencing was inconclusive.

"There's often not enough genetic material to do a genomic test," Hipkins said.

"It's virtually impossible to get a whole genome sequence" in a case like that.

Person jumps ship

A person from Myanmar is today in police custody in Gisborne after jumping off a ship at sea near Young Nicks Head last night.

They were picked up at sea and was admitted to hospital suffering from hypothermia.

The person was tested for Covid-19, returned a negative result and been discharged from hospital.

The ship remains anchored 3km offshore.

 

 

 

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