Covid-19 Delta outbreak: 80 new community cases as Auckland border opens at midnight

There are 80 new cases of Covid-19 in the community today as Aucklanders prepare to leave the city from tonight after being restricted for four months.

Meanwhile, several members of a flight crew have been identified as close contacts of an Omicron variant case in Australia.

The crew members arrived in New Zealand last night and are in an MIQ facility, as per standard international air crew arrival procedure.

There are 51 cases in Auckland, 21 in Waikato, seven in Bay of Plenty and one in Lakes.

Of those in hospital, 12 are in North Shore, 20 in Auckland, 26 in Middlemore, two in Waikato and two in Tauranga.

There are four people in ICU or HDU.

There is also another case in Canterbury today, which will be officially counted in tomorrow’s case numbers.

The new Christchurch case is a close contact of a previously reported case and was already isolating at home when they tested positive.

The majority of Waikato’s 21 cases are in Te Kuiti. The exposure events in Te Kūiti and across the region continue to be generally in private settings.

All the Bay of Plenty cases are in Tauranga City. One is linked to a previously reported case, while the other cases are still being investigated for potential links.

Contacts are being identified and will be contacted for testing and isolation advice.

The Lakes DHB case is in Taupō and linked to a previously reported case.

The average age of those currently in hospital is 49.

The MoH is reminding people over summer to get tested if they are unwell, even if they are vaccinated, and to stay at home until they receive a negative result.

People are also being encouraged to wear a mask or face covering when out, use the tracer app and have the My Vaccine Pass ready for use wherever it is required.

Unvaccinated people who are asymptomatic and require surveillance Covid-19 testing for travel need to get a rapid antigen test from their pharmacy free of charge.

This testing is for people over the age of 12 years and 3 months who are not fully vaccinated and do not have Covid-19 symptoms, and includes unvaccinated people travelling out of Auckland.

Rapid antigen testing at pharmacies is currently only available at no cost for people who are not yet vaccinated and need to get tested for travel.

Anyone with any Covid-19 symptoms is asked to get a PCR test at a community testing centre or a GP and stay at home until a negative result is returned.

The two new Covid-19 cases at the border are people who arrived from the UK via the UAE.

One is in MIQ in Christchurch and the other in Auckland.

Auckland border opens

The much-anticipated border lift will happen at 11.59pm tonight and residents are expected to flee the city in droves, desperate to reconnect with family and friends.

Many are planning on getting early starts in the hope of beating the traffic.

However, Aucklanders preparing to leave the city by road tonight can expect the boundary to remain closed until after midnight.

Southbound traffic will be met with closures set to be in place from 10pm to 1am – when the border will officially be removed and traffic allowed through.

Motorists heading into Auckland can also expect delays, with stop/go traffic management in place until at least midnight.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is asking motorists for patience and space to safely dismantle barriers at the boundary checkpoints.

All Auckland’s DHBs have now reached the 90 per cent double-vaccinated rate. Others have also reached the target or expected to do so by the end of the year.

Yesterday there were 101 Covid-19 cases in the community and the vast majority (97) were in Auckland. There was also one case each in Bay of Plenty, Taranaki, Nelson-Marlborough and Canterbury.

Almost all the new cases over the past few days have been among Maori and Pasifika and there have been no new Covid cases in Pakeha New Zealanders.

And just two weeks after the border lifts, Auckland along with the other areas also in red will move to orange on December 30 at 11.59pm, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed yesterday.

Northland is the only exception and due to its low vaccination numbers will remain in red.

Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare told Newstalk ZB this morning the Government was waiting until December 30 to move Auckland down to orange alert level because it had always taken a cautious approach and wanted the city to go through two full cycles of Covid.

Ngati Hine Health Trust chief executive Geoff Milner didn’t think there was any surprise in Northland that they remained in red, but his messages to people coming to Northland was the businesses were open and ready to comply with the traffic light system.

“Don’t let the red traffic light put a dampener on what you want to do in Northland.”

If you are double vaccinated or have had a negative test, then his message to people was come up and enjoy the summer, he told RNZ.

Taupō mayor David Trewavas had hoped they would move to orange soon and said waiting until December 30 would impact the Taupō Race Meeting quite severely as it was to be held on that day.

It would also restrict what companies did for Christmas due to the limits around venue numbers, he told RNZ.

“We will certainly look forward to the 30th – it would have been nice to be earlier, but we will take it.”

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