Covid-19 Delta outbreak: 185 cases today, new death revealed, 90% of Kiwis have first jab

There are 185 new Covid cases in the community today as the country nears the 90 per cent milestone for first jabs.

An additional death in Auckland has today been added to the national Covid figures.

“This person’s death is subject to a police investigation and the ministry will not be commenting further on it, at this stage,” the Ministry of Health said.

Officials said that 90 per cent of eligible Kiwis have received at least one dose of the vaccine, though the ministry conceded this number had been rounded up and technically, New Zealand is still 15,083 doses away.

Eighty per cent of eligible Kiwis are fully vaccinated.

In Auckland, 92 per cent of residents have had at least one jab, 84 per cent have had both.

A total of 2835 people are isolating at home in Auckland, which includes 1255 people with the virus across 885 households.

A total of 84 people with the virus are in hospital. The majority of those hospitalised (46) are unvaccinated or ineligible to get the vaccine.

Twenty-four cases in hospital are partially vaccinated, 10 are fully vaccinated and three are unknown

There is one person in Whangārei Hospital and the other 83 patients are in Auckland.

Of those, 10 are intensive care or high dependency units. The average age of those patients is 52.

25 new Waikato cases

Of today’s 185 cases, 152 are in Auckland, 25 are in Waikato and eight are in Northland.

The majority of today’s cases (104) are linked to existing cases, 84 are yet to be linked.

There are 25 new cases in Waikato being reported today, with 20 from Hamilton, four from Ōtorohanga, and one from Cambridge.

Regarding Waikato’s 25 cases, 18 are known contacts to previous contacts who are already isolating, and public health staff are investigating any links for the remaining seven cases.

One of Northland’s eight cases remains under investigation so there are technically seven cases to report from the region

Of those cases, three are in Dargaville, two are in the Far North, one is in Whangārei and one is in Kaitaia. All are in isolation.

A positive wastewater test from Tuesday has been returned in Stratford, Taranaki. Another sample had been collected yesterday and was being analysed.

Of yesterday’s cases, 97 were isolating while infectious. Forty-three cases were in the community while infectious.

Public health staff are managing 4779 active contacts of cases. Of those, 74 per cent have received a call from staff confirming testing and isolation requirements. Seventy per cent have returned at least one test result.

A total of 22,007 vaccinations occurred across the country yesterday, comprising of 6045 first doses and 15,962 second doses. In Auckland, 1424 first doses and 3957 second doses were administered, totaling 5381.

Māori vaccination levels are still well behind the national figures, with 75 per cent of eligible Māori partially vaccinated and 59 per cent fully vaccinated.

For Pasifika, 87 per cent have had at least one dose, while 74 per cent are fully vaccinated

Community case figures have hovered between about the 120 to 200 mark in the last week, with yesterday’s announcement revealing 147 new cases in the community.

A total of 81 people infected with the virus were in hospital as of yesterday.

Today’s update, released in a Ministry of Health statement, comes as a leading immunologist is banking on the introduction of a second vaccine to pick up the last pockets of hesitant people who have so far resisted getting the jab but now face losing their jobs.

The Astra Zeneca vaccine will now be available as an alternate vaccination alongside the Pfizer vaccine as the Government moves to get the highest level of community vaccination before moving to relaxed Covid protection restrictions next month.

National Immunisation Advisory Centre director Nikki Turner told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking that it would be a good option for the vaccine hesitant who “don’t like the thought of technology” and would get vaccinated if there was another option, particularly if getting the jab was required to keep their jobs.

But she said there would not be wholesale distribution; with the Astra Zeneca vaccine only be administered to a small group of people. Just a small supply of the vaccine had arrived here.

Turner said she knew that misinformation was still rife across a range of sectors and jobs.

This included an estimated 4000 workers in district health boards who are yet to be vaccinated.

It may simply mean that those people had bad experiences with themselves or their family in the past, she said.

Turner maintained New Zealand didn’t need to get Astra Zeneca any earlier as after having elected to go with Pfizer, they had managed high vaccination rates.

She also said it was “really hard” to have more than one vaccine at all delivery sites.

The Astra Zeneca vaccine would also be aimed at those who had an allergy to the mRNA vaccine or had a bad reaction to the first dose.

While she couldn’t say how many problems they’d had with the vaccine – likely under 100 – and it wasn’t always clear that it was the vaccine or not.

The second vaccine option comes as Auckland and Waikato schools juggle student timetables and parents’ wishes as they decide how and when to reopen classroom doors next week.

All children in level 3 areas will be allowed back at school from Wednesday – with just four weeks of the school year to go.

Balanced decision to go ahead with school reopening

Developmental paediatrician Dr Jin Russell said the Government’s decision to reopen schools next week was very balanced.

“What we have here is fast rising levels of vaccination particularly in Tāmaki Makaurau.

“So we need to keep that in mind as we think about school environments.”

Parents needed to remember there were now higher rates of protection – in terms of teachers being vaccinated, a high number of older secondary school students being vaccinated and the systems schools are putting in place to help prevent any transmission of Covid.

Speaking to TVNZ’s Breakfast, Russell acknowledged that the more adults who were vaccinated at a child’s home, the better protected that child would be.

Many schools were creating bubbles among the students while at school and also taking a lot of lessons and activities outside instead of in the classroom.

But there was still expected to be less occupancy at schools, as some parents would continue to keep children at home.

She also revealed work was under way at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research to provide a better plan regarding ventilation in schools ahead of winter.

Return to school a 'sense of normality'

Associate education minister Jan Tinetti said it was about more than just the children getting back to school, but also helping them get back to a sense of normality.

From next Monday the education workforce would have had its first vaccination, she told The AM Show.

The part-time process proposed by the Ministry of Education was already being run in schools overseas and those jurisdictions hadn’t seen big outbreaks in schools and there was “less risk of spread”. Young people also hadn’t been suffering as badly from Covid, she said.

The Government had put a range of public health measures in places such as masks for children from Year 4 and ensuring social distancing.

She conceded it could be a struggle for children to wear masks, but schools could teach them.

Schools had some wonderful ideas about how they could welcome their young people back and had been working on it for some time, she said.

“This isn’t just about the vaccinated population, this is about the mental health of our young people.”

To schools where staff won’t get vaccinated, Tinetti said education officials were working directly with those schools for solutions. Schools could apply for a very short-term exemption, but from January 1 all staff had to be double-vaccinated

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