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Live UpdatesJan 13 2022

28 new cases: Covid returns to Wairarapa, the Hutt

Welcome to a brand new year of The Spinoff’s live updates. This week we’re still on summer hours and will be bringing you a curated selection of breaking news and other top stories. Need to get in touch? I’m on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

summerupdates3

28 new cases: Covid returns to Wairarapa, the Hutt

Welcome to a brand new year of The Spinoff’s live updates. This week we’re still on summer hours and will be bringing you a curated selection of breaking news and other top stories. Need to get in touch? I’m on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

Jan 13 2022

Anti-vax GP fined for breaching Covid rules, but avoids hefty penalty

The anti-vaccine doctor caught on camera giving out supposed exemptions to the vaccine has been fined $300 for breaching Covid-19 health rules.

Jonie Girouard, a Canterbury-based GP, was the focus of a Newshub investigation which captured her giving out medical certificates designed to bypass vaccination mandates.

Earlier this week, it was confirmed Girouard could no longer practise medicine in New Zealand after her registration was removed by the country’s Medical Council. And now, it’s been revealed Girouard has been issued a $300 infringement for seeing patients face-to-face while unvaccinated against Covid-19.

“Specifically, it was for an unvaccinated affected person [a health practitioner] providing health services in-person,” a Ministry of Health spokesperson told Stuff.

“It is critical for staff working in the health and disability sector to be vaccinated because they are caring for people who are at increased risk of severe illness from Covid-19.”

As Girouard’s offending took place in early December, she escaped the far more hefty $4000 that would have been imposed should her actions have taken place now.

New drive-through vaccination centre to open on North Shore

A new drive-through vaccination centre will open from next Monday on Auckland’s North Shore.

Launching on the same day that vaccinations become available for children aged 5-11, the Eventfinda Stadium in Wairau Valley will operate as a vaccination clinic for at least six weeks.

NRHCC programme director Matt Hannant said he hopes the new clinic will better prepare the community for the arrival of omicron.

“Booster shots are particularly important in helping to protect people against the new omicron variant. As well as meaning you’re much less likely to end up in hospital, it also helps to reduce the chances of you catching it or passing it on,” he said.

More than 530,000 people are now eligible for their booster dose in Auckland. Hannant said many people, especially those with children, may prefer the drive-through option from Monday. “The drive-through model has been hugely successful in giving tens of thousands of whānau in Auckland the opportunity to get safely vaccinated in their bubbles.”

28 new community cases; new infections in Hutt Valley, Wairarapa

There are 28 new community cases of Covid-19, while 13 have been confirmed at our border.

Of the new community cases, nine are in Auckland, three are in Waikato, five are in Bay of Plenty, two are in the Lakes DHB area, four are in the Wairarapa, two are in the Hutt Valley and three are in Canterbury.

On the vaccine front, the Capital and Coast DHB is poised to become the first to reach the 90% fully vaccinated milestone for Māori. “When the region’s clinics closed for the day yesterday, they were only 32 second doses short and they’re expected to reach this significant milestone at some point today,” said the Ministry of Health.

“Not far behind in reaching 90% fully vaccinated for their eligible Māori populations are Canterbury and Auckland DHBs, who may get there next week.”

42% of the population currently eligible have now received their booster shot. “We are strongly recommending boosters for anyone over the age of 18 who had their second vaccine dose at least four months ago.”

The ministry has advised people that as part of the country’s “collective preparations” for the omicron variant that they should check their details are up to date with their regular healthcare provider and in the Covid-19 Tracer app.

There are currently 34 people in hospital with Covid-19, including two in intensive care.

Today’s case details

There are nine cases to report in Auckland today. Health providers are now supporting 878 people in the region to isolate at home, including 180 cases.

There are three new cases in Waikato, two are linked to previous cases and one is under investigation. One is in Ngāruawāhia, one in Whiritoa and one location remains under investigation.

“Two new locations of interest were confirmed in Whitianga and Hamilton and will be added to the Ministry’s locations of interest page,” said the ministry.

There are five cases to report in the Bay of Plenty today – all in the Tauranga area. Four of these cases are close contacts of previously reported cases and interviews continue to determine a link for the fifth case. All cases are isolating at home or in managed accommodation.

The two new cases in Rotorua are both linked to previously reported cases. All cases are isolating at home or in managed accommodation.

There are four cases to report in South Wairarapa today. All four cases are isolating in the same house.  These four cases have links to two new cases in Lower Hutt. The two Lower Hutt cases are from the same household. They had been in Rotorua recently and further investigations and genome sequencing is underway to confirm the source of infection.

“Public health staff are working to determine any locations of interest arising from the cases in Hutt Valley and Wairarapa. Please keep checking the Ministry’s website for regular updates,” advised the ministry.

Finally, there are three new cases in Canterbury – all are household contacts in Christchurch. One of these cases was initially reported yesterday but is being officially added to the case numbers today. Two are linked to a previously reported case. The third remains under investigation.

“There will be further locations of interest from around Canterbury, following travel over the holiday break. These will be updated regularly, along with health advice, on the Ministry’s locations of interest page.”

Sir Rod won’t be rocking the dock in 2022

Yup, here’s another Covid-related live event cancellation. Sir Rod Stewart has announced that his planned 2022 “Hits” tour of Australia and New Zealand won’t be going ahead.

“Once again I feel we’ve all been cheated by this evil disease, so it is with great regret that I announce my shows for 2022 have had to be cancelled,” said the pop star in a statement.

Sir Rod was scheduled to play two events at the Mission Estate Winery in Hawke’s Bay along with one stadium show in Dunedin. Promoter Live Nation said ongoing travel restrictions and international border closures were responsible for the tour’s cancellation.

The British music icon has been away from our shores for a few years but made headlines during the America’s Cup when he was beamed onto our television screens to Rock the Dock.

Another summer music event canned over Covid concerns

The annual Summer Concert Tour, responsible for injecting millions into regional economies, has been cancelled by organisers over concerns around Covid-19 and managed isolation.

It’s the first time the event, which includes dates in Taupō, Whitianga and Queenstown, has not been able to go ahead.

A spokesperson said the managed isolation system was one of the reasons the tour was cancelled. “During 2021 our extensive work to develop a bespoke MIQ solution was unfortunately not successful,” the spokesperson said.

“We had anticipated that by March, given what was happening around the rest of the world, that we could expect some form of home quarantine to be available which would have been acceptable to the artists.”

The Northern Bass festival was yesterday cancelled for similar reasons, with organisers concerned about the surge in omicron cases.

Clarke Gayford apologises after trying to get friend a rapid Covid-19 test

The prime minister’s fiance has apologised after it was alleged he gave inaccurate advice about Covid-19 testing to a pharmacist on behalf of a friend.

The Herald’s Thomas Coughlan reported that Clarke Gayford tried to get his friend, who was a potential close contact of a known omicron case, a rapid antigen test. However, official guidelines suggest close contacts should seek out the more invasive PCR test.

The pharmacist claimed Gayford told him there had been a change to official health advice which would allow Gayford’s friend to get a rapid test instead.

The allegation came to hand in a post shared to a private Facebook group for pharmacists. “Just had a group of vaccinated musicians arrive having potentially been exposed want a RAT [rapid antigen test] – explained to them that they needed to have a PCR test done,” wrote Michael Taylor, from Tauranga.

“As they didn’t like this they got Clarke Gayford on the phone who proceeded to tell me that there had been a change in the guidance and these people should be given RAT tests. [W]hen I explained that we had not received any direction from the MoH he was very unimpressed,” the post continued.

Gayford did not speak directly to the Herald, instead issuing a statement through his manager. “Mr Gayford was rung by a friend about rapid antigen test and was put on speakerphone while the person was in a pharmacy. He apologises for any issues or confusion this may have caused the pharmacy staff.”

The prime minister’s office refused to comment.

National spokesperson: ‘Deeply inappropriate’

National Party Covid-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop said Gayford’s actions were “deeply inappropriate” and showed he was trying to “subvert Ministry of Health rules for his mates”.

On the flipside, Act’s David Seymour praised Gayford for advocating in favour of rapid antigen tests. “The government should take Clarke Gayford’s lead and remove the silly restrictions on rapid antigen tests tomorrow. It is the right policy, and now the Prime Minister has every reason to follow it.”