144 new cases including positive child in Canterbury

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins. Photo: Getty
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins. Photo: Getty
There are 144 new Covid community cases today including one in Hawke's Bay - and a child who has tested positive in Canterbury after travelling internationally.

Another person has died with the virus - a patient in their 80s who was admitted to North Shore Hospital last Thursday. They died last night after receiving "appropriate ward-level care", said the Ministry of Health in a statement.

Most of today's new cases - 127 - are again from Auckland. There are also nine cases in Waikato, four in Bay of Plenty, two in Northland, one in Hawke's Bay and one in Canterbury.

Canterbury child traveller has Covid-19

A new case was reported in Canterbury today.

The child case travelled from London to Doha in Qatar on November 16, and from Doha to Auckland on November 18.

"They left managed isolation last week and tested positive on their Day 9 test while in home quarantine," the ministry said.

The child flew from Auckland to Christchurch on Thursday on Air NZ Flight NZ8475, arriving in Christchurch at 10.50am.

"Anyone who is considered a contact of this case will be contacted directly," the Ministry of Health added.

"Unless you are contacted you do not need to do anything other than watch for symptoms and get tested straight away if you develop any symptoms of Covid-19."

The child was today isolating at home with family. Any locations of interest in relation to this case will be released publicly.

Health officials said high testing rates would help minimise the spread of Covid-19 in Christchurch.

The ministry said local clinics had plenty of capacity for anyone in Canterbury wanting a first or second vaccine dose.

Across Auckland, 4114 people are isolating at home. That number includes 1119 people who have Covid-19 now.

The ministry said health officials were continuing to assess the latest international information on the new B.1.1529 variant, which the World Health Organization has named Omicron.

Hawke's Bay case

The Hawke's Bay DHB confirmed a new case was detected late last night and the person was now self-isolating. The person tested positive as part of routine surveillance swabbing when they visited Hawke's Bay Hospital's emergency department in Hastings after feeling unwell.

A number of exposure events and locations - including the emergency department - had been identified where close contacts could be identified, said the Ministry of Health in a statement.

Waikato cases

Nine of today's new confirmed cases are in the Waikato. Five are in Hamilton, two in Te Kūiti, one in Cambridge, one in Kawhia.

All these new cases are unlinked to previous cases, but health official are investigating possible connections.

Five pop-up and dedicated testing sites were operating across Waikato today in Hamilton, Ōtorohanga, Huntly, and Te Kūiti.

Bay of Plenty cases

The pandemic continues to linger in Bay of Plenty, where four new cases have been recorded.

One is based in the Whakatāne district, and the other three are in the Tauranga area. The Whakatāne district case and one of the Tauranga cases are linked to previously reported cases, health officials said today.

The remaining two Tauranga area cases are household contacts, with links to previously reported cases still being investigated.

All these four cases are self-isolating at home.

Tens of millions of people have now received the Pfizer vaccine. Photo: Reuters
Booster vaccinations will be available throughout the country from tomorrow. Photo: Reuters

Booster rollout

Booster vaccinations will be available throughout the country from tomorrow.

While the priority is still getting people fully vaccinated, healthcare, border workers and kaumātua who have been fully vaccinated for six months or more can now get their boosters, Director-general of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said today.

"Vaccination is the best protection against Covid-19. Booster doses will be available free for anyone in New Zealand aged 18 or older who has completed their two-dose course more than six months ago," Bloomfield said.

DHBs are working hard to reach those who were in the early priority groups of the vaccine rollout, particularly border and healthcare workers, older Māori and Pacific people, and those in Aged Residential Care (ARC).

"People will be able to access boosters in New Zealand, whether they received their earlier doses here or overseas," Bloomfield said.

"The Pfizer vaccine will be used for boosters, regardless of which vaccine was used for earlier doses. There's no need to rush to get the booster. The science shows fully vaccinated people remain really well protected from infection, and from being seriously ill if they do get Covid-19. There is plenty of existing stock of the Pfizer vaccine in New Zealand and this will not run out."

Omicron advice

Last night Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced that New Zealand will ban travel from nine southern African countries from 11.59pm tonight in an effort to curb the potential spread of the new Omicron coronavirus variant.

From then only New Zealand citizens will be allowed to travel here and they will also be required to stay in managed isolation for a full 14 day period and undergo testing.

The Health Ministry said today that knowledge about this emerging variant "is in its infancy and we are closely watching and monitoring evidence and countries' responses".

It said there was no need to rush to get the booster.

"The science shows fully vaccinated people remain really well protected from infection, and from being seriously ill if they do get Covid-19. There is plenty of existing stock of the Pfizer vaccine in New Zealand now and on order for everyone who needs a booster shot over coming months.

"We will advise on any potential impacts for New Zealand, noting that we remain in a good position to minimise the impact of any new variants with isolation and routine testing of international arrivals."

There were 20,873 vaccine doses given yesterday, including 6378 first doses and 14,495 second doses. The ministry said 92 percent of eligible people in New Zealand have had their first dose and 85 percent are fully vaccinated.

It said it had now issued more than 2.26 million My Vaccine Passes.

 - additional reporting RNZ





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