Melbourne mourners sneak into NZ

A group of people from Melbourne have been put into managed isolation in New Zealand after misleading officials about where they were travelling from.

Up to three people were caught at the New Zealand border last week after trying to get into this country without declaring they had initially come from Australia's second city.

It is understood they planned to attend a funeral while in this country.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield today confirmed that border authorities identified three people who left Melbourne via Sydney and arrived in Auckland last week.

This was a breach of the lockdown restrictions and the pause on the travel bubble.

Bloomfield said relevant border agencies would review processes, even though it appeared this was the result of "disappointing actions" from the three people concerned.

The trio were transferred into a managed isolation and quarantine facility (MIQ) where they will stay for 14 days, Bloomfield said. They have all tested negative and their three-day test results were due tomorrow.

Melbourne is currently subject to a two-week lockdown as the city battles to contain a community Covid-19 cluster. The city is set to come out of lockdown at 11:59pm on Thursday, though some restrictions will remain.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the three people who travelled from Melbourne were caught at the border even though they had provided incorrect information.

Asked why they weren't sent back to Australia, he said they weren't part of any exemptions so they were put in MIQ, which is what is meant to happen.

They could face potential fines, but that was up to police.

"The most immediate consequence for them is 14 days in MIQ, which they will have to pay for."

Bloomfield said he hadn't looked into whether the trio should face charges. They may also face charges in Australia for breaking the Melbourne lockdown rules.

Hipkins said he understood the three people were normally resident in Australia.

Restrictions are currently in place for anyone from Victoria wanting to travel to other parts of Australia.

As of this afternoon, there are 83 active cases in Victoria, local health officials reported.

That includes New South Wales, which has a declaration form people must complete to say they are entering on or after May 13 or if they have been in Victoria in the last 14 days.

People are exempt from completing that declaration form if they live in the New South Wales or Victoria border region and only travel within that area.

Two new 'acute' Covid cases in MIQ

In New Zealand today there are no new Covid community cases; there are two new acute cases in MIQ and two historical cases.

Bloomfield confirmed a Jet Park hotel MIQ guest had been admitted to Middlemore Hospital overnight and there were "well-rehearsed" processes for people in this situation.

NZ vaccine rollout update

Meanwhile there have been more than 750,000 doses of the vaccine administered so far, an increase of 107,000 in the last week.

Almost 500,000 people have had one dose - 498,670 people - and more than 276,000 have had two doses.

Hipkins said that was 10% ahead of target. He asked people in Group 1 and 2 who haven't been vaccinated to get in touch to get a jab.

"You'll be helping yourself, your friends and your family by coming forward."

Hipkins told reporters there was "unevenness" around the country, and some people in Group 3 have been vaccinated in some parts of the country, whereas others have not been vaccinated.

"There is a bit of balancing going on there," he said.

"This is a marathon and not a sprint. We are scaling up in a sustained and controlled manner."

Hipkins said today's nurses' strike meant that it would be a "relatively slow" day for vaccines and up to  30% of sites might be affected.

More strikes might lead to more slow days, but Hipkins encouraged the parties to get back to the negotiating table.

"It's not going to be big set back for us although it will be a quiet day."

He didn't want to speculate on what might happen if there were more strikes.

Bloomfield said health advice for pregnant women is that they can be vaccinated at any stage of the pregnancy and this may also help protect the baby.

New freezers to store vaccines

Hipkins said 17 more ultra-low temperature freezers - costing $20,000 each - to support the rollout were now in place and were going through their final tests. They would enable a Covid vaccine hub in Christchurch, he said.

A dozen fridges will be in Auckland, while five will be in Christchurch. It will mean up to 4 million vaccine doses can be stored at any given time.

 

 

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