No new Covid cases today: Health boss

There are no new Covid-19 cases in New Zealand today.

Director-general of Health Ashley Bloomfield said there were now only 22 active cases in the country.

There are no additional deaths to report, and there is one person in hospital, in Middlemore in Auckland.

The country's total of confirmed cases remained at 1154, and the total of confirmed and probable cases was 1504.

There were 1841 tests conducted yesterday, taking the total number 263,156 so far.

Life under alert level 1

He said New Zealand was relaxing its restrictions faster than other countries, including Australia, and the Government was "acutely" aware that level 2 still imposed restrictions on some businesses.

Officials were looking at what life under level 1 will look like, and that would be announced in due course.

Shot in the arm for Covid-19 vaccine

The Government has allocated $37 million for local development of a Covid-19 vaccine and to join the international efforts.

It has also created a vaccine strategy and a taskforce to overseas its implementation.

Dr Bloomfield said it would allow New Zealand scientists to contribute, and onshore production would be possible if that was required.

He said he was confident there was no community transmission in New Zealand.

"The border is our riskiest area and it is a critical part of the Government's overall strategy," Dr Bloomfield said.

He said if we were the UK we would have had 3000 to 3500 deaths and would still be in lockdown, so a vaccine was critical to both domestic and international efforts.

He warned the 12-18 months would be "exceedingly rapid" for a vaccine to be developed and manufactured.

New Zealand would welcome a vaccine if available in September but all the best estimates are that it would be longer than that.

As long as the group size, at any event, was under 100, spectators could attend sports matches as long as they're socially distanced.

In order to manufacture a vaccine in New Zealand, it would be done under a licensing arrangement which would require a lot of international co-ordination, he said.

New Zealand will stick with the 14-day quarantine as it was the 'gold standard', Dr Bloomfield said.

The Ministry is starting to think about the vaccine roll out and but the goal would be to roll it out as quickly as possible, but it would be "bespoke" with a specific workforce. The rollout wouldn't necessarily mirror the flu vaccine strategy.

Despite there being low levels of influenza in the community, Dr Bloomfield still urged New Zealanders to get jabs as "we couldn't be overly cautious about this".

 

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