Saturday, December 4

Covid-19 wrap: Traffic lights, spreader kits and third doses

An overview of the new system for managing Covid-19 restrictions has been provided, but critics say it is confusing; there are 129 new cases; some hospitals are still rushing to prepare for the virus, and a third dose of vaccine is already available.

Vaccination center sign

Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

New ‘traffic light’ response system for Covid-19

The government unveiled its plans to move the nation from alert level 1 to 4 lockdown once a high vaccination goal is achieved.

The new ‘protection framework system’ describes the rules that will apply to the red, orange, and green settings.

It will come into play once the 20 DHBs across the country have vaccinated 90 percent of their eligible population.

Those with a vaccination certificate will be entitled to more freedoms, and companies with vaccination certificates will be able to operate at all levels under new guidelines.

However, localized blocks could still be used if cases grow in any area.

The new system was criticized for being confusing and slow by the National and Law parties, while the Green and Maori parties said more protection was needed for vulnerable people.

In red, the strictest scenario, regional limits apply. Businesses, schools, and public facilities can still open following capacity and spacing rules, but working from home is recommended. Contact tracing must continue and people must wear masks in public places.

Whereas in the green environment businesses, schools and public facilities can be opened without additional measures for those with vaccination certificates. Masks will be required on flights and will be encouraged indoors, and contact tracing will continue to be required.

22102021 PHOTO: ROBERT KITCHIN / STUFF LR: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson, Chris Hipkins and Peeni Henare present a new

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson, Chris Hipkins and Peeni Henare introduce a new “traffic light” system to deal with Covid-19. The announcement was made in the Banquet Hall of Parliament.
Photo: POOL / Things / Robert Kitchin

Today’s number of cases: 129 new cases, plus two Northland cases

Another 129 people tested positive for Covid-19, the Health Ministry reported, on the second triple-digit day (102 cases were reported yesterday). Nine of the new cases were tested in Waikato, the rest in Auckland.

Two new cases were later discovered in Northland, after the official tally for the day was released (they will be among tomorrow’s figures).

Both are contacts for a case diagnosed in Auckland, and authorities said they were not linked to previous travelers with Covid-19 who visited Northland.

The two newly diagnosed people were allowed to travel to Kaikohe from Auckland under alert level 4 rules, and are now isolated there.

The Parua Bay tavern, near Whangārei, has closed due to a connection to the cases.

There were no more signs of Covid-19 in Hawke’s Bay sewage or from testing after yesterday’s news that a person had traveled to Hawke’s Bay while infected with the virus, but more testing will be done next week.

The Ministry also reiterated its call on anyone from the Auckland suburb of Redvale to get tested for Covid-19 symptoms, a cold or flu, following a big party held there over the weekend, as well as those residents of New Lynn, North. Shore, Rosedale and Bayswater.

Expanded network for financial aid

More people can access Hardship Support from early November through February, after the government relaxed some criteria to qualify for financial assistance from Work and Income.

Those who work 40 hours a week on the minimum wage will be able to get grants to pay for food and other bills.

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Two people are in isolation at a Kaikohe property in Northland after testing positive for Covid-19.
Photo: RNZ / Sam Olley

Hospitals Still Struggling to Prepare for Covid-19

RNZ revealed that none of the Auckland hospital emergency departments have completed their Covid-19 preparations, more than nine weeks after the outbreak and with an increase in the number of patients.

Construction work continues on hospitals to create more negative pressure wards, the gold standard for safely isolating Covid-19 patients, but some of which would not be completed until the end of the year.

Third dose of Covid-19 vaccine available

Doctors can now prescribe a third dose of Covid-19 vaccination to some immunosuppressed New Zealanders who meet “complex” criteria.

The Health Ministry said this group of people may not be able to form a strong immune response against the virus with the two standard primary doses. But after reviewing the research, his advisers believed that a third dose could help provide better protection for some.

This third dose is different from the Covid-19 vaccine booster doses, which are not yet available in New Zealand.

The ministry said its technical advisory group would make a recommendation on booster vaccines in “the next few months,” and Medsafe was conducting an evaluation. The final decision would be left to the Cabinet.

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