Saturday, December 4

Covid-19 Roundup: Northland Will Go Level 3, 44 New Community Cases Reported


The number of community cases rose to 44 today, while the government announced that Northland would go to alert level 3 after a person traveling through the region tested positive.

Clockwise from top left: Grounded Kiwis group takes legal action over MIQ;  Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Visits Hastings to Encourage People to Get Vaccinated;  A vaccination poster in Hastings;  Covid-19 testers in Whangārei

Clockwise from top left: Grounded Kiwis group takes legal action over MIQ; Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Visits Hastings to Encourage People to Get Vaccinated; A vaccination poster in Hastings; Covid-19 testers in Whangārei
Photo: RNZ

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins held a press conference at 6.30pm. M., where he announced that Northland would move to level 3 starting at 11:59 p.m. M. From tonight. It will remain at level 3 until 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, and the Cabinet will review alert levels for all regions on Monday.

Hipkins said Northland would raise the alert level because a person who traveled throughout the region and tested positive had not cooperated with contact trackers and authorities, and the region had a low vaccination rate. It is one of the least vaccinated regions: only two-thirds of residents have received a dose of Pfizer.

Hipkins said he understood that the woman obtained a document allowing her to travel from Auckland to Northland by providing false information, but this had not yet been verified. He traveled extensively throughout the region, but the reason for his trip is unknown.

07102021 PHOTO: ROBERT KITCHIN / STUFF LR: Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Public Health Director Dr. Caroline McElnay brief the public in the daily Covid update at 1pm in Parliament.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Public Health Director Dr. Caroline McElnay speaking at yesterday’s press conference.
Photo: POOL / Robert Kitchin

He is believed to have traveled with another woman, who was identified today but has yet to be located.

“We believe this new information warrants a decision to change the alert level to keep the people of Northland safe,” said Hipkins.

“Without imposing restrictions on movement, there is a possibility that the virus could spread fairly quickly within the community.”

Whangārei Mayor Sheryl Mai said the woman should have considered the risk she was putting in the region.

“Everybody now will have to fight and make drastic changes to the way they operate and that just means we are on edge to see if this person has infected others.”

Covid-19 data visualizations: New Zealand in numbers

Epidemiologist Michael Baker said that without full cooperation with contact trackers, public health personnel rely on sample results and sewage to track the spread of the virus.

The first locations of interest to Northland have been added to the Website of the Ministry of Health.

Forty-four new community cases

Today 44 new cases of Covid-19 were reported in the community, including three in Waikato.

In a statement, the ministry said 12 of the new cases are not yet linked to previous cases. Now there are 26 cases that are unlinked from the last 14 days.

Public Health Director Dr. Caroline McElnay said the increased number of new cases today was not unexpected “because there have been several new case contacts and we can expect fluctuations from day to day.”

The three new cases in Waikato are all linked and are contacts of the existing cases.

  • There are 25 people in the hospital, including five in intensive care.
  • Three new cases detected among international arrivals
  • There have been a total of 1,492 cases in this outbreak.
  • There are 16 epidemiologically linked subgroups, six of which are active
  • There are 14 epidemiologically unrelated subgroups, five of which are active

Tests and vaccinations

Speaking at the press conference, Hipkins said he had two things to ask of Northlanders.

“First, if you have any cold or flu symptoms, please come in and get tested as soon as possible.”

“The second request that I have, and I can’t stress this enough, is to get vaccinated.”

McElnay said today that it was more important than ever to keep testing, especially over the weekend.

He said 82,303 total doses of vaccines were administered yesterday, making it one of the top 10 daily totals since the program began, and the figures include a record 10,145 vaccinations administered to Maori.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been visiting North Island cities in an attempt to increase vaccination rates.

Hastings woman Raiha Tahuri, 27, said Ardern “excited” her to receive her first vaccination.

“Yes, I think it was the prime minister who pushed me out of line to be honest. She really looks me deeply, very deeply in the eyes and asks me ‘Would you be willing to be vaccinated because I was willing to support you?’ and I said ‘yes’, I sincerely said ‘yes as a role model for other people my age too, because we have the lowest rates.’ ”

Tahuri was vaccinated with the Prime Minister and Labor Ministers Meka Whaitiri and Kiri Allan in the car with her.

Meanwhile, people with chronic health problems that prevent them from being immunized against Covid-19 say they feel marginalized by the way the government has approached vaccination.

Raiha Tahuri gets vaccinated at Te Taiwhenua or Heretaunga in Hastings

Raiha Tahuri gets vaccinated at Te Taiwhenua or Heretaunga in Hastings
Photo: RNZ / Tom Kitchin

Legal actions taken against the government by the MIQ system

The Grounded Kiwis group has filed documents in Wellington High Court seeking an urgent judicial review of the isolation and quarantine system.

They allege that Hipkins, Health Minister Andrew Little, and the director of MBIE have violated the law in the way they established and enforced the Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) system.

Grounded Kiwis spokeswoman and attorney Alexandra Birt said Control One of the key issues in the legal action against the government is the lack of inclusion of alternatives in MIQ.

Birt said one example was that there was no method in the system that would allow vaccinated people who came from low-risk areas, such as Western Australia, to isolate themselves in their homes.

Under the MIQ system, Birt says the government has been limiting New Zealanders’ right to return in a way that has never been limited before.

Fears of More Exposure Events at Middlemore Hospital

A non-Covid patient who visited Middlemore Hospital twice this week before testing positive has raised fears of two potential Covid-19 exposure events.

As of this morning, 42 patients and 18 visitors have been identified as contacts, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

The person went to the hospital emergency department on October 4 and was subsequently discharged. At that time they were asymptomatic. They returned to the hospital yesterday, where they returned a positive result.

The ministry said that so far 60 people had been identified as contacts, but that no staff member was forced to leave as they were wearing appropriate personal protective equipment.


www.rnz.co.nz

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