blog dec 17

Live UpdatesDec 17 2021

Child under 10 becomes youngest Covid case to die in NZ

Welcome to The Spinoff’s final regular live updates for 2021. It’s December 17, I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Want to get in touch? You can reach me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


A note from me: Today is the last regular live updates for the year and from tomorrow I’m off on summer leave. For the next week, we’ll still have the usual coverage of the 1pm Covid-19 numbers here for you. We’re hoping we won’t have to jump back into news mode over the break but should something major happen – we’ll aim to have coverage of it. Have a great end to 2021!

blog dec 17

Child under 10 becomes youngest Covid case to die in NZ

Welcome to The Spinoff’s final regular live updates for 2021. It’s December 17, I’m Stewart Sowman-Lund. Want to get in touch? You can reach me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz


A note from me: Today is the last regular live updates for the year and from tomorrow I’m off on summer leave. For the next week, we’ll still have the usual coverage of the 1pm Covid-19 numbers here for you. We’re hoping we won’t have to jump back into news mode over the break but should something major happen – we’ll aim to have coverage of it. Have a great end to 2021!

Dec 17 2021

Child under 10 becomes youngest Covid-19 case to die in NZ

A Covid-19 patient under the age of 10 has died, according to Ministry of Health data published on its website.

The death was not reported in today’s 1pm update but according to the data, as of today there has been one death in the 0-9 age bracket of Covid-19 cases.

According to the data, the deceased child is a Māori boy, registered to the Counties Manukau District Health Board.

A screenshot from the Ministry of Health’s website this evening, showing one new death in the past 24 hours

The ministry confirmed to RNZ that the data is correct. It is not yet clear if the death was caused by Covid-19, as the ministry counts all active cases of Covid-19 at the time of death in its data. In some of these cases, the underlying cause of death may have been unrelated to Covid-19.

The child is the 49th Covid-19 case to die in New Zealand. The previous youngest person to die with Covid-19 was in their 30s.

There have been 2,201 Covid-19 cases in the 0-9 age bracket to date, making up 16.5% of all cases.

A screenshot from the ministry’s website showing one deceased Covid-19 case in the 0-9 age bracket

A note from me

Hello live updates readers. Just a message from me to say thank you for reading the updates this year and supporting my work (a special mention to those of you who email in with feedback or simply just to point out typos). This year has been the busiest of my life – an achievement I hope won’t be bested in 2022.

Today is the last regular live updates for the year. I’ll be back in mid-January after a few weeks primarily spent sleeping. However, The Spinoff news team will endeavour to keep you all up to date on any Covid news up until Christmas Eve. Over the holiday period, we’re hoping we won’t have to cover anything but should serious breaking news crop up then we’ll try our best to report it in a timely fashion.

Have a great holiday and I’ll see you in 2022. Out of office = on.

Stewart

Auckland nears another vaccination milestone in time for Christmas period

Aucklanders are being encouraged to get vaccinated this weekend if they haven’t already.

It’s the final chance to get the jab before the Christmas break, with all of the city’s community vaccination set to close from December 23 (of course, you can also get vaccinated at most GPs and pharmacies).

NRHCC vaccination programme director Matt Hannant said getting vaccinated can ensure a safe summer for all. “Consider getting your first, second or booster dose if you’re able to, sometime this weekend,” he said. Around 126,000 Aucklanders are now eligible for a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

“We have achieved great things,” said Hannant. “Auckland DHB is currently at 95 % fully vaccinated, Waitematā at 92% and Counties Manukau at 90%.”

Meanwhile, both Capital and Coast and Auckland DHBs are close to reaching 90% fully vaccinated for their eligible Māori populations. For Auckland DHB, just 1,339 of the eligible population need a second dose to reach the 90% milestone, while in the Capital and Coast DHB region, an additional 1,480 vaccinations are needed to reach the mark.

No new omicron cases, but two more positive infections linked to same flight

No new omicron cases have been confirmed today after a traveller from Germany tested positive for the new variant in MIQ. Two other travellers have, however, tested positive for Covid-19 and genomic sequencing is now under way.

The Ministry of Health said all of the passengers on the same ​international and domestic flights as the case are being treated as close contacts, and all are isolating in a managed isolation facility.

Two other passengers on the international flight have tested positive for Covid-19 and one further passenger’s positive result is being investigated as a historical infection. These three people have been moved to a managed quarantine facility. Whole genome sequencing has identified one of these infections as the delta variant.

Whole genome sequencing for the other two is due later today.

All other passengers have returned negative day zero/one and day three tests.

Urgent whole genome sequencing is being carried out on all positive test results in recent returnees to determine if they have the Omicron variant.

“While the arrival of a new variant is concerning, New Zealand is well placed to manage omicron cases with isolation and testing requirements for all new arrivals, robust infection and prevention control and PPE measures at airports and MIQ facilities, and frequent surveillance testing of staff who have any contact with recent returnees,” said the Ministry of Health.

76 new community Covid-19 cases; positive wastewater result in Napier

There are 76 new community cases of Covid-19 today. Of those, 47 are in Auckland, 15 in Waikato, 10 in Bay of Plenty, three in Taranaki and one is in the Lakes DHB area.

There are now 51 people in hospital with Covid-19, including five in intensive care.

No new omicron cases have been confirmed after a traveller from Germany tested positive for the new variant in MIQ. Two other travellers have, however, tested positive for Covid-19 and genomic sequencing is now under way.

Meanwhile, a positive wastewater result has been confirmed in a sample taken in Napier on December 15. “This could be due to recently recovered cases returning to the region who are shedding the virus, transient visitors, or it could signal undetected cases in the community,” said the ministry. “There are no known Covid-19 cases self-isolating in Napier.”

Today’s case details

There are 47 new cases being reported in Auckland. Health and welfare providers are now supporting 2,064 people to isolate at home, including 538 cases.

Of today’s 15 cases in Waikato, six are in Hamilton and six are in Te Kūiti. The locations of the three remaining cases are still under investigation. There are two cases receiving care at Waikato Hospital.

There are 10 cases to report in Bay of Plenty today. All are in the Tauranga area. Of today’s cases, nine are linked to previously reported cases, and one is still being investigated for potential links.

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

The new Lakes case is in Rotorua and is a contact of a previously reported case. They are currently isolating.

Finally, three new cases have been confirmed in Taranaki. Two are linked to the Eltham cluster and the third is based in New Plymouth. These cases were announced yesterday afternoon by the DHB.

“Public health staff are interviewing the New Plymouth case to determine links to any previously reported cases,” said the ministry. “Any potential close contacts will be followed up and if and when locations of interest are identified they will be added to the ministry’s website.”

Testing is available today at the following locations:

  • Taranaki Base Hospital testing centre from 9am – 3pm
  • Saliva testing at the Hāwera Hub from 2 – 6pm (run by Ngati Ruanui)

Help support The Spinoff

2021 will be remembered for the spread of delta, creating one of the most challenging stories – and commercial environments – in recent memory. It made us rely even more heavily on the support of our members. If you love what we do, please consider donating today

Want another way to support us? Invite your friends and whānau to read The Spinoff and keep them across Aotearoa’s biggest stories.

Covid numbers and omicron update due at 1pm

Today’s Covid-19 numbers, along with an update on the arrival of omicron to our shores, will come from the Ministry of Health around 1pm. All the details will be available on their website and social media but we’ll have it for you when it’s made available.

Keep the live updates feed open for all the latest.

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of this week’s news

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Friday News Quiz, The Spinoff’s acclaimed and future-award-winning news recap test.

How well do you know your economic abbreviations? What about omicron? And are you up to date with Mike Hosking’s failed bet against an MP!? Test your knowledge in the final regular news quiz for 2021.


Jetstar only conducting vaccine spot checks for travellers leaving Auckland

Jetstar has been criticised for only conducting vaccine “spot checks” for travellers leaving Auckland.

It’s within the government’s rules – and similar to what happens when drivers travel through the city’s boundary – but differs from Air New Zealand’s more stringent safety checks.

The budget airline told Stuff that its operating rules had been devised in consultation with the government.

“We have worked closely with the New Zealand government to develop approved processes to ensure customers are aware of requirements and meet the criteria to fly,” said Jetstar.

”This includes email and SMS alerts prior to travel, updates on the Jetstar travel alert, a pre-flight health and vaccination declaration which customers must complete at check-in, and spot checks of certificates or pre-departure test results at Auckland airport.”

What’s a social discount rate and why should ours be lowered?

The social discount rate is one of the tools the government uses to calculate the cost benefit analysis on long-term investments. And according to a report released earlier this week, our social discount rate has been too high for more than 30 years.

In this week’s When the Facts Change, Bernard Hickey looks at the way the government makes decisions around intergenerational issues like climate change, child poverty and housing affordability, and how things like discount rates have disadvantaged future generations. To find out more, he talks to parliamentary commissioner for the environment Simon Upton, who’s calling on Treasury to lower New Zealand’s discount rate, and public sector analyst Jess Berentson-Shaw from The Workshop, who has seen how the use of high discount rates has frozen the public service in time.

Listen now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast provider.

Shake-up at NZME music radio in 2022

There are a few big changes in store for NZME’s network of music radio stations in 2022.

As the Herald reports, Megan Papas will leave ZM’s Fletch, Vaughan and Megan show and join The Hits where she will host the Auckland afternoon show and nationwide 3pm Pick Up Show. She’ll be replaced on ZM by comedian Hayley Sproull, who seems to be basically be everywhere at the moment.

Papas has been with the ZM breakfast show for seven years and in an Instagram post said the role was a privilege. “There have been so many incredible stories, some that have touched me deeply and will stay with me forever,” she wrote. “I am incredibly grateful, and touched that you would feel comfortable and compelled to tell me your most private and sometimes painful stories, it is humbling and no doubt one of the best parts of being welcomed into your lives.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Megan Papas (@meganlouisepapas)

Meanwhile, The Hits drive trio of Stacey Morrison, Mike Puru and Anika Moa are heading to Flava as the new breakfast line-up. Laura McGoldrick will take over as host of the drive show on The Hits.

Top health expert wants border reopening delayed

The arrival of omicron to New Zealand should see plans for us to reconnect with the world put on hold, said epidemiologist Michael Baker.

The gradual reopening of the border is set to begin in mid-January when Australia returnees will no longer need to spend time in a managed isolation facility.

But Baker told RNZ this should be bumped back by at least a month. “It’s becoming the dominant variant in some of the countries overseas where travellers are coming from. So yes, it had to arrive here, but it doesn’t have to get into New Zealand,” he told Checkpoint.

“We are actually one of the few countries in the world that still has a robust border quarantine system. I think it’s just us, China, Taiwan and some states in Australia.”

Baker said a full 14-day stay in MIQ may not be necessary but 10 days would be a good length.

‘Not inevitable’ that omicron will end up in the community, says Bloomfield

Ashley Bloomfield does not believe it’s inevitable that omicron will make its way into the community.

New Zealand confirmed its first case of highly transmissible Covid-19 variant yesterday in MIQ in Christchurch.

Speaking to RNZ, the director general of health said he’s confident cases will be caught at the border. “We have had hundreds of the highly infectious delta variant at our borders over the past six months and just one of those has escaped into the community, that we know, and that’s our outbreak that we’re still dealing with,” said Bloomfield.

Officials still don’t know how that case jumped the border, said Bloomfield, but that doesn’t mean it will happen again.

“It’s by no means inevitable and we’ll continue to do everything we can to make sure that we keep omicron either out of the country or at the border if it does come on a flight,” he said. “The response is all the things we’ve been doing and our high vaccination rate is a huge ace to have in our hand, but so is our testing, contact tracing, isolation.”

Bloomfield said that two doses of the Pfizer vaccine provides protection against omicron, but a third booster dose is better. He’s in discussion with government officials over the current six month gap between second and third doses. “We want to be going into winter next year with the highest possible level of population immunity,” he said. “About half of people are booking in at six months and it may well be that we need a shorter interval to make sure people get it on time.”

Localised lockdowns could not be ruled out, said Bloomfield.