MIQ rnz


69 new community cases of Covid-19; nine more omicron cases in MIQ

  • There are 69 new community cases of Covid-19 today.
  • There are nine more cases of the omicron variant in MIQ, bringing the total in New Zealand to 22.

A note about live updates:

As we wind down for Christmas, The Spinoff’s regular live updates have ended for the year. However the team will continue to cover major breaking news here, including all the latest on Covid in New Zealand. Regular live updates will return in mid-January.

MIQ rnz

69 new community cases of Covid-19; nine more omicron cases in MIQ

  • There are 69 new community cases of Covid-19 today.
  • There are nine more cases of the omicron variant in MIQ, bringing the total in New Zealand to 22.

A note about live updates:

As we wind down for Christmas, The Spinoff’s regular live updates have ended for the year. However the team will continue to cover major breaking news here, including all the latest on Covid in New Zealand. Regular live updates will return in mid-January.

Dec 20 2021

Person completing MIQ absconds from Middlemore, still missing

A traveller who was transferred to Auckland’s Middlemore Hospital from a managed isolation facility has discharged themselves and is yet to be located.

According to a statement from Northern Region Health Coordination Centre (NRHCC), the person has tested negative for Covid-19 twice since arriving in New Zealand. They were transferred to Middlemore Hospital from an MIQ facility at midnight yesterday, then left the emergency department at about 2am. They had not been discharged, and police were notified at 2.25am.

“While the person has tested negative for Covid-19 twice since arriving in New Zealand, it is important that they complete their period of isolation,” said an NRHCC spokesperson. “The police are working to locate the person.”

CEOs of future health agencies announced

The two chief executives of Aotearoa’s future health agencies have been appointed.

Fepulea’i Margie Apa has been appointed to the role of chief executive of interim Health New Zealand, and Riana Manuel (Ngāti Pūkenga, Ngāti Maru, Ngāti Kahungunu) has been appointed to the role of chief executive of the interim Māori Health Authority.

“Both chief executives have extensive experience and a wide range of skills that will be essential to creating a health system so people can get the healthcare they need no matter who they are or where they live,” health minister Andrew Little said in a statement.

“Margie and Riana have strong connections to Māori and Pacific communities that have been underserved by our health system, which will be essential to address the disproportionate health outcomes that have long affected our whānau,” added associate health minister Peeni Henare.

The establishment of Health New Zealand and the Māori Health Authority was announced in April as part of sweeping health reforms. They will become permanent entities on July 1, 2022, and Apa and Manuel are expected to start their respective roles in the first quarter of the year.

The transfer of functions from district health boards and the Ministry of Health will start next year, with “locality planning pilots” commencing early in 2022.

Health workers reminded to be alert to myocarditis symptoms following post-vax death

 The Covid-19 Vaccine Independent Safety Monitoring Board has met to determine whether the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine was a factor in the potential myocarditis-related deaths of three people this year. 

In a press release from the Ministry of Health, the board said more information was needed before a determination on the role of the vaccine in the death of a 13-year-old child could be made. The death has been referred to the coroner. A statement will be made at a later date. 

In the case of a man in his 60s, the board said the myocarditis implicated in his death was not likely related to vaccination. “The time from vaccination to the onset of symptoms and clinical factors point to other causes and is not consistent with a causal link,” said the board.

A 26-year-old man who died within two weeks of his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine suffered from myocarditis that was probably due to vaccination, found the board.

The coroner is investigating the death, and preliminary information from the post-mortem examination has identified myocarditis as the probable cause of death. The individual had not sought medical advice or treatment for his symptoms.

Myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) is a rare adverse reaction of the Pfizer vaccine. Covid-19 infection increases the risk of myocarditis substantially more than vaccination with the Pfizer vaccine. Myocarditis is a treatable condition, if identified, and outcomes are better the earlier that treatment is started, said the Ministry of Health in the press release.

The board has recommended the Covid-19 Vaccine and Immunisation Programme continue to highlight myocarditis as a very rare side effect of the Pfizer vaccine.

“The board wishes to remind healthcare professionals and consumers to be alert to the symptoms of myocarditis that may include chest pain, tightness or discomfort, shortness of breath or abnormal heartbeat (and/or accompanied by fever). 

“The board highlighted that discussion at the time of vaccination should include information on common expected side effects and rare side effects, along with when and how to seek medical advice.”

Loan provider Moola engaged in anti-competitive conduct, High Court finds

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Consumers searching Google for loan providers may have paid higher prices and received services on unfavourable terms because of unlawful anti-competitive conduct by consumer finance company Moola.

In a win for the Commerce Commission, the High Court has granted the competition watchdog declarations that Christchurch-based Moola, which provides high-cost short-term loans up to $5,000 and operates through websites moola.co.nz and needcashtoday.co.nz, engaged in cartel conduct with other consumer credit providers over online advertising.

A cartel is where two or more businesses agree not to compete with each other by fixing prices, dividing up markets, rigging bids or restricting goods and services, for instance.

In Moola’s case, it reached agreements with other loan providers not to bid on each other’s brand names on Google Ads and to “negatively match” certain keywords so their advertisements wouldn’t show when consumers searched those particular words or phrases.

The conduct limited consumers’ access to information about alternative companies and services and likely reduced their ability to make informed choices when seeking credit, said commission chair Anna Rawlings.

“By restricting competitive keyword advertising, these agreements may have resulted in consumers paying higher prices and acquiring consumer finance services on unfavourable or less suitable terms. The likelihood of harm would have been higher for vulnerable consumers with less experience and knowledge about consumer finance companies.”

Legal action was filed against Moola earlier in July, with the commission alleging the company’s conduct with competitors had breached the Commerce Act 1986. In a statement, the commission said Moola cooperated with its investigation, accepted the allegations and agreed to the declarations.

The decision follows a settlement the pair reached in September after Moola admitted it failed to ensure its loans met borrowers’ needs and they could be repaid without putting borrowers in substantial hardship. The company agreed to repay affected borrowers.

69 new community cases of Covid-19; nine more omicron cases in MIQ

A Covid-19 testing clinic in Auckland (Photo: Greg Bowker/Getty Images)

There are 69 new cases of Covid-19 in the community today, in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Taranaki, the Ministry of Health has announced. Sixty-two people are in hospital, with seven in ICU or HDU.

Meanwhile, whole genome sequencing has now detected nine further cases of omicron in international arrivals, taking New Zealand’s total to 22 cases with the variant.

Of the total omicron cases to date, all remain in managed isolation with the exception of one case who has now recovered and been released as they are no longer infectious.

“Health and MIQ teams have been carefully planning for Omicron cases at the border and will continue to manage all arrivals cautiously,” said the ministry. “This includes 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 international returnees.”

Community cases

Seven day rolling average of community cases: 68

  • Number of new community cases: 69
  • Number of new cases identified at the border: 2
  • Location of new community cases: Auckland (59), Waikato (7), Bay of Plenty (2), Taranaki (1).
  • Number of community cases (total): 10,289  (in current community outbreak)
  • Cases epidemiologically linked (total): 7,594
  • Number of active cases (total): 1,762 (cases identified in the past 21 days and not yet classed as recovered)
  • Confirmed cases (total): 13,125


Today, there are 59 new cases being reported in Auckland.

Health and welfare providers are now supporting 1,999 people to isolate at home, including 551 cases.

There are seven cases to report in Waikato today; five in Te Kūiti, one in Huntly and one in Tokoroa.

There are eight pop-up and dedicated testing sites operating throughout Waikato today with sites in Hamilton, Te Kūiti, Taumarunui, Huntly, Ngāruawāhia and Ōtorohanga.

There are two Covid-19 positive individuals receiving care at Waikato Hospital.

There were 1108 tests processed in Waikato yesterday and 424 vaccinations given.

In the Waikato, public health, primary care and manaaki providers are supporting 55 cases to isolate at home.

Bay of Plenty

There are two cases to report in the Western Bay of Plenty today.

Of today’s cases, one is linked to previously reported cases, and one is still being investigated for potential links. Both are isolating at home.

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


One new case is being reported today in Taranaki, who is linked to a case in New Plymouth.

This takes the total active cases in the region to 31.

Taranaki residents who have symptoms, even if they are mild and you are vaccinated, are asked to please get tested. Local testing sites can be found on the Taranaki DHB website.


  • Cases in hospital: 62; North Shore: 11; Auckland: 31; Middlemore: 15; Waikato: 2; Tauranga: 3
  • Vaccination status of current hospitalisations (Northern Region wards only): Unvaccinated or not eligible (31 cases / 56%); partially immunised <7 days from second dose or have only received one dose (6 cases / 11%); fully vaccinated at least 7 days before being reported as a case (15 cases / 27%); unknown (5 cases / 7%)
  • Average age of current hospitalisations: 52
  • Cases in ICU or HDU: 7 (1 in North Shore; 2 in Auckland; 3 in Middlemore, 1 in Waikato)


This morning MidCentral DHB became the ninth of New Zealand’s 20 DHBs to achieve the 90% milestone for its eligible population to be fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, Nelson-Marlborough DHB is next in line to hit the 90% mark for full vaccination of its eligible population, with just 550 doses to go as of midnight last night. Other regions close to the meeting the target include South Canterbury (280 doses); Hawkes Bay (1,990 doses); and Waikato (4,126 doses).

For Māori vaccinations, Wairarapa DHB has just 12 doses remaining to reach 90% partially vaccinated for its population; Southern DHB has 74 doses, and Waitematā 263 doses.

For our Pacific communities, Whanganui DHB has just 56 doses to go to be 90% partially vaccinated, joining all the other 19 DHBs to have reached this mark. MidCentral DHB has just 19 doses to go to reach 90% of its Pacific population being fully vaccinated, with Canterbury only 46 doses away, and Waikato with just 120 doses to go. Nine other DHBs have already hit this milestone.

Shortening gap between second and third Covid doses on cabinet agenda

Image: Getty Images

Cabinet will today decide whether to lessen the time needed between second and third doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine as more cases of the still largely unknown omicron strain appear at our border.

Currently, those 18 years and older can receive their third booster vaccine as long as their second dose was at least six months ago. Of the eight million vaccinations that have been administered in Aotearoa, nearly 213,000 have been third shots.

Ahead of cabinet’s final meeting for 2021, health experts have urged the government to reduce the six-month wait as studies suggest three doses are more effective against omicron. Five further cases of the new variant were detected at the border on Sunday, taking the country’s total to 13 cases.

Immunologist Graham Le Gros told Stuff that bringing forward booster shots was a “matter of urgency” and recommended at least a five-month gap. Māori, Pasifika and people living with compromised immune systems should be prioritised, he said.

RNZ reported that south Auckland GP Api Talemaitonga hoped boosters would be fast-tracked, and said clinics would need time to prepare if the gap between second and third doses was shortened. The chair of general practice, Dr Jeff Lowe, said doctors and pharmacies were ready to roll out the booster programme as there were enough vaccinators, appointments and doses to get started straight away.

The gap between second and third doses is three months in the UK, four months in France and five months in Australia. A recent study from Imperial College London’s Covid-19 response team indicated the new variant could be just as severe as delta in terms of hospitalisations and causing symptoms.

Those eligible can book their appointment to receive a booster dose at BookMyVaccine.nz. People can also get booster doses at a walk-in clinic, pharmacy or from a GP.