Saturday, December 4

Covid-19 wrap: what happened on September 17

The resumption of the trans-Tasmania travel bubble is suspended again, Auckland school holiday dates remain unchanged, and the push to vaccinate continues.

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Photo: 123RF / RNZ

The travel bubble through Tasmania will be suspended for a further eight weeks, the New Zealand government confirmed today.

The suspension of free quarantine trips will be reviewed in mid to late November, said Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson.

In a statement, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the decision had been advanced to allow those in Australia access to the first tranche of roughly 3,000 rooms at MIQ.

It also said Air New Zealand was working “at a good pace” to launch more flights from Australia starting in October.

For the first time this morning he broadcast a special extended debate between New Zealand epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker and American infectious disease expert Amesh Adalja, covering areas such as whether New Zealand’s lockdown strategy has worked and at what point New Zealand should open its borders.

School vacation dates unchanged

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has announced that Auckland’s school holiday dates will remain unchanged due to the closure.

Some parents had expressed concern that students had missed too much class time due to Level 4 restrictions, and Hipkins had been seeking advice from ministry officials on the effects of bringing the vacation forward.

However, this morning he said that he had come to the conclusion that the status quo was still the best course of action and that the school holidays would remain in line with the rest of the country as of October 2.

Principals had previously warned that moving the dates forward could put stress on teachers and students, and few in the industry would have supported it.

Meanwhile, it appears that peer pressure is the deciding factor in deciding whether Level 2 students decide to wear a mask to school.

Principals have told RNZ that most teens in alert level 2 areas do not bother to wear face masks in class, despite the fact that the chief health officer, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, strongly recommended them for students 12 years of age or older.

Locations of Interest in Tauranga, Covid Positive Truck Driver Quarantined

A truck driver who tested positive for Covid-19 has been transferred to quarantine and the Ministry of Health has identified places of interest in the Tauranga area.

The essential worker was evaluated after a household member was identified as a contact. Health officials say it made deliveries to supermarkets in Auckland, the Bay of Plenty and Waikato.

Locations are BP Tauriko in Tauranga on September 11 and Uppercrust Bakery in Mt Maunganui on September 11 and 24.

The BP gas station was closed for a deep clean, but has now reopened. A spokesperson said affected team members were isolating themselves, testing and monitoring themselves for symptoms.

An Auckland location, the SuperValue at Flatbush, Clover Park, was also added to the list on September 14.

Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare said he understood that the driver had likely become infectious while out of Auckland.

The vaccination unit advances

Vaccinators say the first fleet of Covid-19 vaccine buses dubbed Shot Bro that took to the streets of southern Auckland for the first time yesterday got off to a good start.

The buses are a collaboration with Maori and Pacific providers and the Northland and Auckland District Health Boards. It is part of the latest strategy to reach the city’s goal of having 80 percent of Auckland residents eligible with at least one dose of Pfizer by Monday.

Even senior medical staff in Auckland are helping out, with some 30 surgeons, anesthetists and other senior physicians from the Waitematā DHB becoming temporary vaccinators as thousands of operations are postponed across the city.

Meanwhile, political commentator Peter Wilson today discussed the government’s “vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate” strategy and other Covid-related issues it has been facing this week.

Fox Glacier Companies Struggle After Latest Lockdown

Fox Glacier businesses have had a long and difficult winter and several have already closed with others considering whether to hibernate or close.

Some, however, took the plunge and opened up in the midst of the pandemic.

Sean Langton and his wife bought Fox Glacier General Store earlier this year and said that while it had been difficult, they hoped to hold out until international visitors could return.

11 new cases of Covid-19 in the community

Today there were 11 new Covid-19 cases in the community, all in Auckland and two of them are not yet linked to current cases.

There were also five new cases at MIQ.

The Director of Public Health, Dr. Caroline McElnay, said that today there are nine epidemiologically linked subgroups.

10 unrelated subgroups have also emerged: two are active, three are contained, and five are inactive. She said this means the country can be cautiously optimistic that the current outbreak is being contained.

A positive wastewater test result was recorded today from a sample collected Monday in eastern Auckland, which covers Pakuranga, Bucklands Beach and Shelly Park.

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