Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for October 8, by Stewart Sowman-Lund. Auckland is now at step one of the alert level three pathway. Reach me on firstname.lastname@example.org
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The alert levels, in summary
- Northland will move to level three (classic level three) from 11.59pm tonight until at least 11.59pm Tuesday. This will be reviewed on Monday.
- Waikato is in level three (classic level three) until at least Monday at 11.59pm.
- Auckland is in step one of its alert level three exit plan. This will be reviewed on Monday.
- The rest of the country, including the South Island, is in alert level two.
- There are 44 new community cases of Covid-19, including three in Waikato.
- Of the 41 in Auckland, 12 have not yet been linked. All cases in Waikato are linked.
- There are now 25 people in hospital with Covid-19, five of whom are in intensive care.
6.55pm: Two new locations of interest in Northland
So far, two locations of interest in Northland have been added to the Ministry of Health’s website, both petrol stations in Whangārei.
More locations will likely be added, as Chris Hipkins said officials believe the person who tested positive yesterday evening “travelled around the region” before travelling back to Auckland.
Hipkins has confirmed that there are two women whose movements are of interest, one being the positive case and the other a travel companion. The woman travelling with the positive case has now been identified but officials have been unable to locate her.
6.30pm: Northland to move to alert level three from midnight tonight
Northland will move to alert level three restrictions from 11.59pm tonight. The move comes after a positive case was detected in Whangārei yesterday. Restrictions will remain in place until 11.59pm Tuesday and will be reviewed at cabinet on Monday.
The person is now in an Auckland MIQ facility.
“Updated information provided by the police today shows the case moved extensively around Northland after travelling there on 2 October,” Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said.
“We believe this new information warrants an alert level change decision to keep Northland people safe.”
The person was not cooperative with contact tracing but based on information from police it is believe they’ve travelled widely around the region and weren’t alone.
“The information we have at this stage is that the person was in Northland from the afternoon of 2 October until the evening of 6 October. They are believed to have travelled around the region, including in Whangārei, Kamo, Paihia and Kawakawa, before returning to Auckland,” said Hipkins.
While not verified, Hipkins said he believed the person provided false information in order to obtain a travel exemption as an essential service worker. They then crossed the border before having their permission to travel revoked. “Without putting restrictions on movement in place there is a risk the virus could spread rapidly around the region.”
“We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t think it was very possible we’ll see more cases,” said Hipkins. He also noted that the phone numbers provided by the person were not valid and it was very hard to find them.
“Every Northlander needs to stay home, get tested as soon as possible if they have symptoms, and continue to check the Ministry of Health website for updated locations of interest. And of course vaccination centres continue to be open in alert level three.
Northland’s low vaccination rates have been taken into account in taking the decision to move the region to level three, said Hipkins. “We know many people in Northland live rurally, but the advice is the same for everyone – get vaccinated, get tested, and follow the alert level three requirements.
“I cannot stress this enough: please get vaccinated”
70% of people in Northland have had their first dose and 48 % their second, said Hipkins. For Māori, this is even lower, at 52% first dose and 32% second. Hipkins urged people in Northland to come forward to get tested if symptomatic.
Watch the press conference here:
6.05pm: Hipkins to make announcement on Northland
Cabinet ministers have just met to discuss Northland alert levels and Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins is holding a press conference at 6.30pm. We’ll bring you full details here.
Yesterday evening, it was confirmed that a positive case had been detected in Whangārei, believed to be an essential worker from Auckland who had travelled to Northland, which is currently in level two settings.
5.40pm: More locations of interest
Visitors to Chemist Warehouse in Flat Bush, Auckland on September 30 (at 3pm) have been instructed to stay home and get tested immediately. The location of interest is among a handful of new locations of interest in the delta outbreak, including supermarkets in Manukau, SuperValue in Avondale, and the outpatient department at the Grenlane Clinical Centre in Epsom.
There are also a number of locations on the North Shore and in Hamilton.
See all of today’s locations of interests on The Spinoff’s interactive map.
3.50pm: Police officer tests positive for Covid-19
A police officer has contracted Covid-19 in Auckland after dealing with a positive case.
The officer was one of four who took a woman to Auckland Hospital after responding to an incident on Tuesday afternoon. Once at the hospital, the woman was tested for Covid after she displayed symptoms. She later tested positive.
The four officers who had been dealing with the woman were stood down on the same day to be tested and required to self-isolate for 14 days as a precaution. So far, just one has tested positive while the other three have returned negative day one tests.
A fifth police officer not involved in the exposure event, but who lives at the same address as one of the four officers, is considered a close contact and is also self-isolating as a precaution.
“The four police staff involved in the incident were fully vaccinated but enquiries are continuing into the extent of PPE use at the time of the incident,” said a spokesperson.
The police station where the Covid-positive officer was based has under gone a deep clean along with the patrol car involved.
It’s not clear whether this case was included in today’s 1pm update – when 44 cases were confirmed – or will be part of tomorrow’s tally.
3.40pm: Māori vaccine drive hits new record
Yesterday saw the highest number of vaccine doses administered to Māori since the rollout began.
Roughly 10,000 doses were given out, including 4000 first doses.
Associate health minister Peeni Henare said there was now “real momentum” in the Māori vaccination campaign. “Our kaumātua are leading the way, with 91% of those aged 65 and over having had their first dose and 81% fully vaccinated,” said Henare. “And I know our elders are now encouraging our rangatahi to get vaccinated too.”
The vaccine rollout will enter its final phase before summer next week with a national day of action, dubbed Super Saturday.
2.20pm: New locations of interest in Waikato and Auckland
A number of new locations of interest have been confirmed today, including in Waikato.
Both Raglan Roast Coffee and Raglan Bakery have been linked to a Covid-19 case who visited on Saturday. While the Ministry of Health website lists the exposure as all day, implying a worker may have been infected, it’s understood to be a customer who did not use the Covid Tracer App.
“Last Saturday 2nd October a customer who visited us has now sadly tested positive for Covid-19. Unfortunately we do not have a timeframe of when they came into store, so please beware that this timeframe is from 7am-5pm as a precaution,” posted Raglan Roast Coffee on Facebook.
Other locations from today include a sushi restaurant in Te Rapa and a number of supermarkets in Auckland.
The full list can be viewed here
1.40pm: What we’ve learned about working from home
The last 18 months have changed the way many of us work and put real pressures on how we organise our lives. This week on When the Facts Change, Bernard Hickey spoke to tech leader Rowan Simpson and clinical psychologist Jacqui Maguire about how the culture of work has changed, the rise of burnout and the inequities the pandemic has exposed.
1.20pm: Big day for testing and vaccinations
Yesterday was a mega day for both testing and vaccinations, at least compared to recent weeks.
Nationwide there were 29,925 tests processed over the past 24 hours. “There continues to be a strong response to calls for testing in Waikato with 5,180 swabs taken yesterday,” said the Ministry of Health. In Auckland, 10,439 tests were processed.
“It is more important than ever that we keep testing, especially over the weekend,” said public health director Caroline McElnay. “The Ministry of Health urges anyone who has symptoms, no matter how mild, to please get tested.”
Yesterday also saw a significant boost in vaccination numbers with 82,303 doses administered nationwide. Most of these were second doses: 62,598 compared with 19,705 first doses. “Waikato turned out in record numbers yesterday to get vaccinated with 10,397 doses given, with large increases seen in rural areas,” said the ministry. “This equates to a 4% increase in first doses across the Waikato in one day. 77% of people in the Waikato have now received their first dose and 52% are fully vaccinated.”
Alert levels for the whole of the Waikato will be reviewed again on Monday.
1.10pm: New exposure events at Middlemore Hospital
There are two new possible Covid-19 exposure events at Middlemore Hospital – both from the same patient.
The patient presented to the emergency department for a non-Covid related issue on October 4. They then stayed until they were assessed and discharged, answering no to all screening questions and were asymptomatic. The patient again presented to ED on October 7.
“Following discussion with medical staff, the patient was isolated, tested and moved to a negative pressure room,” said the Ministry of Health. They subsequently returned a positive result.
“Although asymptomatic on their first visit, ARPHS has determined that their infectious period encompasses this date and as such are acting out of an abundance of caution in identifying potential contacts,” said the ministry. As of this morning 42 patients and 18 visitors have been identified as contacts.
No staff are required to stand down as they were wearing the appropriate PPE. “While there have been a number of exposure events at Middlemore, this is not unexpected as there are a number of subclusters in South Auckland, for which Middlemore is the local hospital,” the ministry said.
1.00pm: 44 new community cases, including three in Waikato
There are 44 new community cases of Covid-19. Of these 41 are in Auckland with three in Waikato. There are no new cases in Whangārei after an essential worker who crossed the Auckland border tested positive.
“We acknowledge today’s numbers are higher than recent days,” said public health director Caroline McElnay. “This is not unexpected because there have been a number of contacts of new cases and we can expect to get fluctuations from day to day.
Of today’s cases, 12 remain unlinked while 20 are household contacts. The three new cases in Waikato are all linked and contacts of existing cases. “Interviews are continuing to determine any further contacts or locations of interest,” said the Ministry of Health.
17 of yesterday’s 29 cases have exposure events.
There are now 25 people in hospital with Covid-19, including five people in intensive care.
Whangārei case moved to MIQ
The essential worker who tested positive in Whangārei has now moved into a quarantine facility, said the ministry. “Public health staff are continuing investigations to identify whether there are any locations of interest or exposure events associated with the case.” So far, no locations have been made public. “This doesn’t mean no actions have been taken around tracing the movements of a case,” said the ministry. “The focus of publishing locations of interest is on locations where contact tracers don’t have a good idea of who was there at the relevant time, like bars and supermarkets.”
12.50pm: Covid update coming via press release
There’s no 1pm press conference today, but we will still be getting the latest Covid-19 numbers. They’ll come via press release from the Ministry of Health around 1pm. I’ll have that for you as soon as it lands in my inbox so keep this page updated for all the latest.
12.15pm: National MP waiting for medical advice before getting vaccinated
National MP Maureen Pugh has still not received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, after previously saying she would seek medical advice.
The Herald has reported that while Pugh has not yet received that advice, has spoken to a doctor. She had initially booked to get her jab in Wellington in September, but ended up in the West Coast during lockdown.
Back in 2016, it was reported Pugh did not believe in pharmaceutical drugs. However, she said the reason for the delay in getting the vaccine was due to a medical issue in her family.
11.30am: The Friday Quiz!
Another week, another edition of The Spinoff’s Friday Quiz. Do you know the alert level rules? How familiar are you with the official cash rate? Who is the mayor of Whangārei?! Test your knowledge below:
Having trouble on the app? Click here.
10.25am: Is the alert level system about to be replaced?
It’s been reported this morning that the alert level system, which has been in place for almost the entirety of our Covid-19 response, could soon be replaced.
Stuff has claimed the government’s been in consultation with the private sector on a revamped “traffic light system” that would mark the end of regional lockdowns. Green light would mean no restrictions in place, but face coverings and QR scanning may still be required in some places. Larger events could require proof of vaccination. This would be a bit like an update alert level one.
At orange light, face masks would be required and some retail businesses may need to limit capacity. A red light would be used if Covid-19 threatened our health system. While private gatherings would be limited, schools and retail would remain open.
There’s no word yet on when this new system could be implemented but, like much else, it likely hinges on vaccination rates improving and the spread of Covid-19 slowing down.
Read more here
9.20am: Benee, Crowded House and more join call for vaccinations
New Zealand music stars like Benee and Crowded House have joined forces to encourage New Zealanders to get vaccinated.
The #VaxForLive campaign wants as many people vaccinated to allow for the return of live music. “You’re not just protecting yourselves but others who may be vulnerable,” said pop star Benee. “This vaccine has been proven to reduce hospitalisations and deaths. I feel like I need to stand on this to protect my family, friend, band, my crew and my supporters, to keep all of them safe.”
Neil Finn, of Crowded House, reiterated that message. “Live concerts bring joy and freedom that lift the spirits of audience and artists alike,” said Finn. “This summer New Zealand will be open again for concerts but you will need to be vaccinated against Covid.”
Others to have joined the campaign include Ladyhawke, Theia and promoters Live Nation and Eccles Entertainment.
At this stage, large events like concerts and music festivals will require proof of vaccination via a certificate set to be made available next month.
8.40am: PM on whirlwind tour to boost vaccinations
Jacinda Ardern is spending her first days out of Wellington since the delta outbreak took hold, aiming to boost vaccination rates in parts of the country struggling for uptake.
Yesterday she visited Rotorua and Murupara, and over the next 48 hours will travel to Wairoa, Flaxmere, Hastings, Gisborne, and Ruatoria.
As Stuff reported, Ardern spent much of yesterday visiting vaccination centres and speaking to people going for their jab. While generally faced with a warm reception from the public, Ardern’s visit did attract some “freedom” protestors.
8.00am: Northland on high alert after Covid-19 confirmed in Whangārei
Covid-19 has returned to Northland after a case of the virus was confirmed in Whangārei yesterday. The positive case is believed to be an essential worker from Auckland who had travelled to Northland, which is currently in level two settings.
While initially reported on Wednesday as a “weak positive” – indicating it may have been an historic case – follow-up testing came back stronger.
Whangarei mayor Sheryl Mai told RNZ she was disappointed that Covid had made it north. “At some point this was going to happen but we were hoping we could put this day off for an awful lot longer,” she said.
At this stage, no locations of interest have been published by the Ministry of Health but Mai said these are due this morning. “Fingers crossed that it was a quick trip up and back again,” she said “I’m anticipating that they would have had all their correct documentation.” Mai was also keeping her fingers crossed the person had assiduously followed the rules. “We’re hoping that this person has done all the right things, by scanning their QR codes so we know all their movements. We’re also hoping they’re vaccinated and well, despite having Covid.”
Vaccination rates for Whangārei, as detailed by this interactive map, show some parts lagging. For example, while 76.7% of the eligible population in Whangārei central have had their first jab, only 53.9% have in neighbouring Tarewa. “We’ve got really good suburbs [and] we’ve got some areas we need to target,” said Mai. “We’ll be pulling out all the stops to ensure those people are getting the attention that they need.”
Further information is expected at today’s 1pm press conference.
The alert levels, in summary
- The Waikato level three boundary has been extended to include the Waitomo district, Te Kuiti, Waipā and Ōtorohanga. It will remain in place until at least Monday at 11.59pm.
- Auckland remains in step one of its alert level three exit plan. This will be reviewed on Monday.
- The rest of the country, including the South Island, is in alert level two.
And the numbers
- There are 29 new community cases of Covid-19, including five in Waikato.
- Of the 24 in Auckland, seven have not yet been linked. All cases in Waikato are linked.
- There are now 23 people in hospital with Covid-19.
- A case has been confirmed in Whangārei.
7.30am: From The Bulletin
A new way to look at vaccination rates. Harkanwal Singh has built a map for The Spinoff that looks at vaccination data for every suburb in the country. He’s been tweaking the system for the past day and the result is something that’s mildly addictive. I’ve learned that my Lower Hutt suburb and the capital region is doing pretty well, but some pockets of the country still need help.
The Covid numbers: 24 new community cases were reported yesterday in Auckland and 5 in Waikato. 72% (28) of the previous day’s total were in the community while infectious. There are now 363 active cases. 70,198 people were vaccinated Wednesday.
The Spinoff’s Covid data tracker has the latest figures.
A legal showdown is underway to raise Māori vaccination levels. John Tamihere, the chief executive of the Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency and a former Labour minister, is taking the ministry of health to court because of its refusal to hand over the personal details of unvaccinated Māori. According to Stuff, the agency has a plan to boost vaccination rates, but the government is standing in the way. Tamihere dismissed the ongoing vaccine effort as a plan for middle class New Zealand and made his point succinctly: “Give us our bloody information so we can go out and do the job that you haven’t done.”
This is part of The Bulletin, The Spinoff’s must-read daily news wrap. To sign up for free, simply enter your email address below