Part of Waikato joins Auckland at Alert Level 3; at least one test station in the region could not keep up with the demand; Air New Zealand announces a ‘no jab, no fly’ policy and there are 33 new community cases.
- 33 new community cases reported today and 15 still not linked to previous cases
- 2 new cases detected in Raglan and Hamilton East in Waikato
- 26 people are hospitalized, including one in Waikato; 3 people are in intensive care
- Locations of interest now stretch from South Auckland to Taihape
- 1,328 cases in the current Delta outbreak
- 50,067 doses of vaccine administered yesterday
Parts of Waikato have been placed in a rapid lockdown with two Covid-19 cases detected: a 40-year-old and a 50-year-old.
Hamilton and Raglan will move to level three at 11:59 PM today.
The closure will cover Raglan, Te Kauwhata, Huntly, Ngāruawāhia and Hamilton City based on city limits and follows the discovery of one case in Raglan and another in Hamilton East.
The two people know each other, but health officials have yet to establish a link to the Auckland outbreak. Urgent genome sequencing is underway.
Random checks will be carried out, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there are too many back roads for it to be a tough border similar to Auckland’s.
He said the Cabinet intends for Level 3 restrictions to apply in Waikato for the next five days, giving authorities an opportunity to contact the trace and conduct extensive testing. The constraints will then be evaluated.
Test station unable to cope with demand
People were turned away from a Covid-19 testing center at Claudelands Park in Hamilton this afternoon, despite being asked by Jacinda Ardern and Dr. Ashley Bloomfield to get tested after the new outbreak.
The testing station was packed with people wanting to get tested, an RNZ reporter said.
She said that when she visited there were about 150 cars in the parking lot and traffic was backing up onto a nearby highway.
The Waikato District Board of Health said people were being turned away to free up space for those who had symptoms or had visited places of interest.
The DHB said that those who are well and have not been in contact with a positive case should contact Healthline or their GP.
However, by early afternoon, no sights for Waikato had been uploaded to the Ministry of Health website today.
The cabinet will meet tomorrow to discuss a possible move of Auckland from level 3 to level 2, although the prime minister has made it clear that the borders will remain in place around the city.
He said the decision to move the Auckland tier will be made regardless of the need to move Waikato to tier 3.
Renewed call for vaccines
The government says today’s decision affecting parts of Waikato is driven by low vaccination rates.
The two cases from Waikato and another announced last night, a trucker who traveled from Auckland to Palmerston North on work, had not been vaccinated.
“Vaccination makes a difference, it keeps people safe,” said the prime minister.
“If we had a vaccination rate of 90 percent or more in Hamilton or Raglan, it is highly unlikely that we would be here today announcing Level 3 restrictions.”
“Instead, we could rely on other tools like contact tracing and much lower-level public health measures, but while we are vaccinating we have fewer options on how to react to cases.”
Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate also said the region’s vaccination rate was too low and that was why they had to go into lockdown.
Until yesterday, more than 5,300,000 doses of vaccines had been administered; 3.3 million people have received a dose, while almost 2 million kiwis are fully vaccinated.
Mandatory vaccinations to fly abroad
Air New Zealand will require that customers traveling to any part of its international network be fully vaccinated.
Executive Director Greg Foran says that Covid-19 vaccination is the new reality of international travel.
He said many destinations New Zealanders wanted to travel to were already closed to unvaccinated visitors.
The policy will apply to all passengers over the age of 18 arriving or departing from Aotearoa on an Air New Zealand aircraft.
Anyone who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons will need to provide proof.
Foran said the decision was made “strong and clear” in recent consultations with employees.
Unwanted record for Melbourne
Melbourne will become the most blocked city in the world tomorrow night, surpassing Buenos Aires in Argentina with 245 days of blocking, as the state of Victoria announced 1,220 new cases of Covid-19 and three deaths today.
New South Wales saw a “dramatic drop” in community cases, with 667 infections and 10 deaths when the state announced a relaxation of self-quarantine rules for the fully vaccinated.
The total number of cases was the lowest since Aug. 19.
Meanwhile, Queensland did not register any new community cases, giving the go-ahead for the NRL grand final to take place at Lang Park in Brisbane tonight.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was excellent news as she announced her intention to attend the Grand Final.
Fans in the stadium were urged to observe the rules and other fans across Australia were reminded not to party while watching one of the most popular sporting events in the country.