74 new community Covid cases in outbreak

There are 74 new community cases of Covid-19 to report today. Of these cases, 68 are in Auckland and six are in Waikato.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield provided today's update.

As at 10am, 43 of these cases are linked - including 18 household contacts - and 31 remain unlinked, with investigations continuing to help determine their connection to the outbreak. 

There are a total of 2832 cases in the current outbreak and 5539 since pandemic began.

There are no new cases in the South Island following a positive case identified in Blenheim.

Two close contacts of person who traveled to Blenheim from Waikato have returned negative results, two others are awaiting results.

There are 41 Covid-19 patients in hospital, four more than yesterday. Their average age is 43.

Five people with Covid-19 are in ICU or HDU.

Yesterday there were 42,136 Covid vaccines administered, 10,872 of these were first doses and 31,264 were second doses.

There have been 3,657,970 (87% eligible population) first doses of the vaccine administered to date and 3,018,830 second doses (72% eligible population).

There are no new confirmed cases of Covid-19 to report in Northland, with cases in the region, associated with this outbreak, remaining at seven.

However, people living in Northland are urged to remain vigilant and get tested if they have any symptoms that could be Covid-19.

Auckland public health officials have reviewed the suburbs of concern and are urging residents in Redvale, Rosedale, New Lynn, Wiri, Drury, Manurewa and Henderson to get tested as soon as possible if they have even very mild symptoms that might be Covid-19, even if they are fully vaccinated.

This testing will help to provide assurance that any undetected spread of Covid-19 in these communities is identified as quickly as possible.

Bayswater is no longer a specific area of concern however residents should remain vigilant and get tested if they experience even mild symptoms.

In Auckland, public health officials are now supporting 562 Covid-19 cases and close contacts in the community, across 216 households, to safely isolate at home.   

All six of today’s new Waikato cases are from Hamilton. All are known contacts of existing cases including one that was already in the quarantine facility. 

From 11.59pm tonight restrictions will ease "a little" for Waikato, who will still technically be in Alert Level 3. 

People can meet in outdoor gatherings from two households and with social distancing. Recreational activities such as golfing will be allowed.

Early learning services can re-open with a maximum of 10 people in each bubble.

It's the same restrictions that Auckland is currently under. People will not be allowed to travel outside of Waikato.

Cabinet will review the alert level on Monday, along with the review on Auckland restrictions.

November 15 tentative date for school return

Hipkins said he asked education officials to work with representatives from primary schools over the coming week, on the basis of an indicative start date of November 15 for primary schools opening, subject to "events closer to the time".

It would involve groups of students attending on different days to keep numbers smaller, and outdoor lessons, Hipkins said.

This was being considered whether early learning centres could extend numbers from 10 to 20 on November 15 also.

Hipkins said we are more likely to see cases emerging outside of Auckland.

It was not a question of if but when cases emerged outside Auckland. He said the best thing New Zealanders can do is to get vaccinated to enjoy greater freedoms over summer.

Hipkins said "stamping the virus out" remained the best course of action for places outside of Auckland until vaccination rates improved.

Bloomfield said health officials were expecting information from Pfizer in first two weeks of November about vaccines for children aged 5-11, and then advice would be given to ministers.

Pfizer is making an application for a child version of its vaccine, and places in the US have it ready to go should it be approved for use, Bloomfield said. This will affect when the vaccine can roll out here.

Ministers are meeting this afternoon to discuss changes to the length of MIQ stays, which will be announced tomorrow, Hipkins said.

Hospitalisations 'very manageable'

Bloomfield said health officials were increasing capacity for home isolation and lots of people could do so safely. He said there is still space available in quarantine facilities in Auckland if people need it.

Bloomfield said hospitalisation numbers are "very manageable" and even dropped over the weekend. There is no doubt alert level 3 settings are keeping those rates low, he said.

Around half of the daily cases were Māori, about 30 per cent are NZ European and 20 per cent Pasifika and other ethnic groups.

US approves Pfizer vaccine for kids aged 5-11

Bloomfield said health officials were expecting information from Pfizer in first two weeks of November about vaccines for children aged 5-11, and then advice would be given to ministers. US health officials today cleared the vaccine for children.

Pfizer is making an application for a child version of its vaccine, and places in the US have it ready to go should it be approved for use, Bloomfield said. This will affect when the vaccine can roll out here.

Medsafe was already looking at public data from Pfizer about trials it has carried out on children, but it has not received the formal application.

Because it is a new and younger age group being considered for the vaccine, Medsafe will do a thorough process of assessing risks and benefits, and it may well be that Medsafe refers it to a an independent advisory group for review, Bloomfield said.

 - NZ Herald and ODT online

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