Covid case update as country moves into traffic light system

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
With New Zealand just hours from entering the traffic light system, Kiwis are set to find out how many new Covid community cases there are - and where - and how many people are vaccinated.

The Ministry of Health will release the latest numbers in a press statement shortly.

There were 146 new cases across the nation yesterday as the virus made its way into the South Island and continues to circulate in regions such as the Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

Fifteen of the nation's 20 District Health Board regions now have more than 90 percent of their eligible populations with at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

However, just two - Auckland and Capital and Coast DHBs - have hit the 90 percent double-jabbed mark.

The Government has also announced that Covid-19 jabs for those aged between 5-11 are expected to begin next month, subject to MedSafe approval.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins also conceded that it was likely a matter of time before Omicron - a new variant of the virus - arrived in New Zealand.

Of yesterday's new cases, 124 were in Auckland, 14 in Waikato, four in Bay of Plenty and one in Nelson-Tasman.

The new case in Nelson is in addition to three cases the day before, Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said.

Eighty-three people were in hospital yesterday, two in Waikato and the remainder in Auckland.

Jabs for 5+

On the vaccination of 5- to 11-year-olds, there was still work to do but the Government was advanced in planning, Hipkins said.

The child dose was about one-third of the adult dose. Buying it was conditional on it being approved by MedSafe.

The Government was expecting to roll it out before the end of January and had been talking to Pfizer about supplies with that deadline pending approval.

Traffic light system

The traffic light system will see Auckland exit lockdown and enter the red setting, with a return of many activities including dining at bars, cafes and restaurants.

Much of the country, including the South Island, will move to orange, which removes gathering limits for locations using vaccine passes.

There have been 2.8 million vaccine passes issued.

At orange level, life will be almost like level 1, Hipkins said. Red will be more restrictive.

The Government had been working hard to get the balance right and there would be some teething issues along the way, he said.

Omicron likely to arrive in NZ

On Omicron, Hipkins said there was some anxiety about the new variant. He wanted to be clear it was cause for concern "but not a cause for panic".

The Government had prepared for a new variant and it was "ready and had plans in place".

Asked if it was a matter of time until Omicron arrived in NZ, Hipkins replied: "I would say so."

Asked if it would extend border restrictions, he said they were still planning for January and February cohorts and it was under constant review. He said it was a possibility it could be extended.



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