As the rest of the country outside of Auckland and Northland prepares to lower alert levels at midnight, a further drop in community Covid-19 cases today adds to optimism that Aotearoa is getting over the Delta outbreak.
The Health Ministry announced 49 new infections, all in Auckland, bringing the total number of cases to 612.
“Of the cases yesterday, only 23 percent are considered to have been infectious in the community,” Health Director General Ashley Bloomfield said this afternoon.
Bloomfield was less optimistic about the location of the original source of the Delta variant outbreak, admitting that health officials today may never find it.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she wanted “the tail of this outbreak to be as short as possible.”
“Every day for me is one more step, a bit of progress, but I want to see sustained reductions … we still have a way to go.”
Infected prison officer
However, in a concerning development, Bloomfield confirmed that a Springfield Corrections facility staff member had tested positive for Covid-19 and 23 other employees had had contact with the person. They all isolated themselves.
Approximately 120 people at the Waikato facility were in contact with the Corrections officer. The inmates were being examined. The officer had been fully vaccinated and was asymptomatic.
Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis said the infected officer had done the right thing and that there were plans to deal with the unfolding scenario.
“This person, who was fully vaccinated, did the right thing after realizing that he had visited a place of interest. Despite showing no symptoms, he went and got tested and I want to thank them for their vigilance,” he said.
Checkpoints are being established
As the rain continues to fall tonight, police are setting up checkpoints in the southern part of Auckland in preparation for the shift to alert level 3 outside Northland and Auckland.
Police Superintendent Shanan Gray told Checkpoint that the police will seek to educate people, but will not be lenient towards those who intentionally break the rules.
“We don’t want to move to imposing measures on people trying to cross borders, but obviously, if it’s absolutely blatant, then maybe we should go down that path. But our initial focus will be to educate people.”
Officers are installing southbound checkpoints on SH1 / Mercer off-ramp (southbound traffic); SH1 / Oram Rd (northbound traffic); Mangatawhiri Rd / SH2; East Coast Rd (Waharau Regional Park); SH22 / Pukekawa-Churchill Rd and Logan Rd.
They intend to have all checkpoints operational by 11pm tonight, stopping vehicles and questioning drivers.
Northland will continue to operate three checkpoints at the southern entrance to the region at the intersection SH1 with SH12; Mountain Road, Kaiwaka and Cove Road, by Bream Tail Road.
Meanwhile, the police agreed to establish two static checkpoints that track vehicle movements through Ngāti Porou rohe, after officers closed an illegal hapū-run checkpoint in Te Araroa, on the east coast.
“There is no shortage of vaccines”
Earlier today, Ardern said Morning report the country was not running out of vaccines.
“It’s just a matter of – given right now, we have a much larger number of people coming in – we can keep meeting that increase when we have a limited supply,” he said.
“We have 840,000 doses in the country and around 500,000 are administered weekly. We planned and had enough supply for 350,000 per week.”
Ardern said the government was “working hard to increase supply” and would discuss the situation later in the week.
Auckland should be a vaccination priority – Goff
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said his city should be a priority in the vaccine effort.
He told Morning Report that, as a gateway city to the rest of the world, Auckland was most at risk and needed the best effort.
“Vaccination is prioritized where the risk is highest and it’s pretty easy to see where the risk is highest right now.
“We have most of the quarantine facilities in Auckland so we have already been on a higher level of alert for the last 18 months for a month longer than other areas, and we will do so again.”
Goff said that approximately 25,000 people are being vaccinated daily in the city.
Low dose vaccine
As the vaccine effort progressed today, a couple who may have received a saline solution or a low-dose injection instead of the Pfizer vaccine said they did not yet know if they needed a booster shot and that health officials said it would. they were bothering.
Last week, RNZ revealed that the Health Ministry could not rule out that five people may have received a low or no dose on July 12 at the Highbrook Vaccination Clinic in Auckland.
After the story broke, Bloomfield said the 732 people vaccinated that day would be contacted within 24 hours.
Beniest received an email about the possible confusion a day after the news, but five days later, Grace had not heard anything.
They said health officials advised them to call 0800, but were now repeatedly “misleading” them.
As MPs traveled to a reopened parliament today, Ardern expressed disappointment at the opposition parties’ decision to reject an online parliament session as a safer alternative.
“It is a disappointment that we have not been able to be as agile as the rest of New Zealand,” he said.
“Our view was that going to an online forum would have allowed opposition MPs to have access to MPs across the country.”
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins was questioned about how many people were waiting for transportation to MIQ, as MPs socially distanced themselves during question time.
Hipkins said he received an update this morning that between 50 and 60 people were waiting for transportation and that a delay in MIQ processes was being investigated. He said the greats were transferred to MIQ within 48 hours of testing positive.
The government spends $ 1.25 billion on child support payments
As Auckland businesses face a prolonged period of lockdown, calls were made today for government aid to be extended.
Businesses already receive a one-time grant to help with overhead costs, such as rent. The government has paid $ 1.25 billion in wage subsidies and Covid-19 resurgence payments since the shutdown began.
Auckland Chamber of Commerce head Michael Barnett said Nine at noon a petition calling on the government to increase its support gathered more than 15,000 company signatures in six hours.
During questioning in Parliament, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said that $ 876 million has been paid from the wage subsidy scheme since August 18.
“As of today, the resurgence support payment has paid out $ 378 million, covering 122,231 applications.
“On top of that, about a million dollars has been spent covering the License Support Plan and the Short Term Leave Payment.”
Robertson said the payments were behind estimates that the schemes would cost $ 2 billion over two weeks at alert level 4.
Companies prepare for level 3
Meanwhile, many companies across the country have been preparing, hoping to return to work tomorrow.
Wellington’s restaurants and cafes braced today for takeout and contactless deliveries, but health restrictions mean they kept fundraising expectations modest.
19 protesters arrested
This morning, police arrested 19 people in small protests against the blockade outside government and local council buildings across the country.
In Northland, two people were arrested, one each outside the Kaikohe and Whangārei council buildings. The protester Whangārei was subsequently released and received a violation notice.
In Auckland, four people were arrested in a small protest outside Government House in Epsom. Two infringement notices were also issued.
Waikato police arrested three people for failing to comply with the Health Order after responding to a group of protesters gathered in Civic Square, Hamilton.
Six people were arrested by Bay of Plenty police after a meeting outside the Tauranga City Hall building.
Another small gathering in Taupō was reported, with an arrest made.
The Central District Police responded to small groups of protesters outside the city hall buildings in New Plymouth, Whanganui and Manawatū. Two people were arrested at the Whanganui protest.
In Christchurch, a person was arrested after a protest also outside a council building.
“The police have little tolerance for anyone who willfully ignore the restrictions in the current situation. Today’s arrests reflect that,” said Police Commissioner Andrew Coster.