Saturday, November 27

Covid-19 wrap: Easy restrictions for Auckland and Northland, thrusters approved, traffic light system on the horizon

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the cabinet agreed to relax restrictions for Auckland and the North North this week, while 190 new cases were announced today and the deaths of two people who had Covid-19 are being investigated.

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Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi / Samuel Rillstone / Jean Bell / Pool Mark Mitchell NZME

Ardern said at the 4:00 pm post-Cabinet press conference that, in principle, last week’s decision to move Auckland to alert level 3, step 2, has been confirmed by the Cabinet.

Auckland will move to the new pass starting at 11:59 pm tomorrow, which means that retail businesses and public facilities such as libraries, museums and zoos can reopen.

Outdoor gathering limits are increased to 25 people and the two-household restriction is removed.

“While we are raising those rates even more, we are entering our reopening,” he said.

Ardern said Auckland is expected to reach 90 percent double vaccination rates by the end of November, when the city switches to the new traffic light framework.

Today 190 new community cases were reported in New Zealand, with 182 in Auckland, seven in Waikato and one in Northland.

There are now 81 people in the hospital with Covid-19.

Two deaths of people who tested positive for Covid-19 were reported today, but the coroner will determine their causes of death.

A person in his 60s died at Auckland City Hospital on Saturday. The patient was admitted to the hospital on October 23 for a traumatic incident and tested positive for Covid-19 upon admission, the Health Ministry said.

This morning another death was reported in a managed isolation facility. In a statement, the ministry said the returnee arrived on November 3 and tested positive during a routine test on the third day.

The coroner will determine the cause of death for that person, even if it may have been related to Covid-19.

Vaccination rates were key in determining whether Auckland could ease restrictions, Ardern said.

All three Auckland DHBs reached the 90 percent milestone for the first doses of vaccination last night.

To date, 89 percent of New Zealanders have received their first dose and 78 percent are fully vaccinated.

14,280 doses of vaccine were administered yesterday, including 3,272 first doses and 11,008 second doses.

Medsafe has also approved a booster dose of Pfizer vaccines for people 18 years of age and older, at least six months after the second dose. The next step is for the technical advisory group to brief ministers on this, Ardern said.

He said there is a “strong expectation” that Auckland will move to the new system after a cabinet meeting on November 29.

“Moving to the new framework at that time will mean certainty for Auckland. It will mean that all businesses can be open and operating, it will mean that we will manage Covid safely, but differently.”

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said Control the drive now will be to hit that second dose target.

“We know that people now understand the importance of getting the second dose, we are going to work twice as hard to make sure that everyone for the next three weeks … takes a step forward.”

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Photo: RNZ / Vinay Ranchhod

Emotion and uncertainty about leaving office

The ease of restrictions may not come too early for many in Auckland. The city marked the 83rd day of being locked up today.

Previously, RNZ spoke with residents gathered in bubbles for picnics in Okahu Bay.

Anvil Banez, who rode his bike to the beach, was confident about any possible relief from confinement restrictions.

“It takes a long time. I think it would be really nice to get a sense of normalcy again. Maybe just go to the Westfield Mall or something, do a little window shopping again, that definitely hasn’t been around for a while.”

Simon Fell said he felt the time was right to start easing the restrictions.

“It’s a step forward, it’s going to help the local restaurant industry and things like that, I think it’s a good thing. Again, we have to be careful as long as we get over that 90 percent, let’s vaccinate everyone.”

The companies also told RNZ that they are eager to reopen.

However, not everyone is very happy. Co-leader of the Maori national pandemic group and Maori health leader, Dr. Rawiri Jansen, said Morning report that the prospect of Covid-19 restrictions being eased fills him with a sense of doom.

Others are concerned that the outbreak will spiral out of control when restrictions are eased and could lead to 1,000 new cases a day by Christmas.

Public health professor Collin Tukuitonga said the time was not right to ease the restrictions.

“The outbreak could explode and get out of control,” he said.

Jacinda Ardern at a vaccination center in Kawakawa

Jacinda Ardern at a vaccination center in Kawakawa
Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Planning for a continuous increase in cases

While the Delta outbreak has so far not gone much beyond Auckland, Waikato and places in Northland, it is almost certain to spread in the coming months. Planning continues in many places so systems don’t buckle when under stress.

The Taranaki District Board of Health has a Covid ‘surge’ plan that would allow it to serve nine ventilated ICU patients and up to 60 hospitalized patients.

And refrigerated containers for storing Covid-19 bodies are being rented, purchased, and explored across the country.

University of Auckland epidemiology professor Rod Jackson said he doesn’t think our morgues are prepared for waves of deaths from Covid.

“Nothing in New Zealand is prepared for a Covid outbreak, a major outbreak.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s morgues, hospitals, [or] primary care. “

And there are still concerns about the long-term impact Covid could have on people.

Tensions boil over as the outbreak continues

The stress of the global pandemic and the surge of Delta in New Zealand is causing tensions to rise both online and in the real world.

The director of the Disinformation Project, Kate Hannah, said terms like Nazism were being used carelessly.

“We have really witnessed a degradation of social discourse, so the acceptability of really vulgar, obscene, degrading, rude, misogynistic and racist terminology is simply being used.”

Last week, a prominent member of the public service compared some of the country’s leading scientists to Nazi war criminal and physician Josef Mengele, and a national MP posted on Facebook: “Generations before us we have fought against the tyranny of socialism. , now it’s our turn. “

Former West Coast Mayor Tony Kokshoorn also said Morning report Earlier, he fears that misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccine is creating a gap in the community.

Brainbox Institute director and researcher Tom Barraclough said perspective is important.

“People need to understand that what they see on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube is not a representative image of what everyone is saying or thinking.

“Social media is not like a window to look out, it’s more like having someone bring you things they think you want to see. That’s crucial to understand when it comes to navigating what you see online.”

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