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Covid-19

NZ, Cook Islands announce quarantine-free travel bubble

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New Zealand and the Cook Islands have agreed to open a quarantine-free travel bubble by March next year.

In a joint statement this morning the prime ministers of the two countries, Jacinda Ardern and Mark Brown, said officials are working together to safely arrange two-way travel in the first quarter of next year.

The Cook Islands are Covid free.

Ardern says the priority is and will remain keeping both countries safe from Covid-19.

Before a two-way travel opens up, New Zealand will open up one-way quarantine-free travel from the Cook Islands as a first step for people who need to access essential services.

“The arrangement recognises the special ties between New Zealand and the Cook Islands. It will allow people to travel more easily between our two countries, while acknowledging that the priority remains to protect our populations from Covid-19,” Ardern said.

Prime Minister Brown said free movement was integral to the Cook Islands’ recovery from the impact of Covid-19.

“This arrangement is the next step towards resuming many aspects of life in the Cook Islands that have been disrupted by COVID-19, including access to health and education, and reuniting family and friends.”

Covid-19

Covid-19 surge: PM rules out return to red traffic light setting – for now

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Despite an increase in Covid-19 cases there is no need at present for the country to shift back into the red traffic light setting, the prime minister says.

Covid-19 cases are on the rise again and a new subvariant, BA.2.75, has been detected here for the first time.

There were 9629 new community cases announced today and the seven-day rolling average was 7246 compared with 5480 last Tuesday.

On Friday afternoon, genome sequencing confirmed two cases in New Zealand with the BA.2.75 subvariant of Omicron.

The two cases had recently travelled from India where it had previously been detected.

The Ministry of Health said the characteristics of the subvariant may enhance its ability to evade immunity.

There was early evidence overseas that it might be slightly more transmissible than BA.2.

Speaking in Australia, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the settings were recently reviewed, and New Zealand would only move to red if it would have a material effect on slowing case numbers.

“Keep in mind we have really important rules at the orange setting that are there to protect us,” Ardern said.

“Having just come from Europe, also recently the United States, even being here in Australia I can tell you that New Zealand is still using measures many other countries don’t.”

One main change under red would be gathering limits, however, there was still a question mark over whether that would make much difference, given the notable rise in infections among older New Zealanders.

She said the two most important measures to reduce the spread of the virus were vaccinations and mask use.

“I encourage our older New Zealanders to go out and get that booster shot and for people to keep using their masks and if you’re sick isolate at home.

“The point here is we have to do things that make a difference to what we’re seeing now.”

New Zealand had hung on to mask use and vaccinations partly because winter was putting additional pressure on the country’s health system, Ardern said .

University of Auckland infectious disease expert Dr Siouxsie Wiles told RNZ yesterday that another wave of Covid-19 had been expected and should not come as a surprise.

She urged people to wear masks in “as many situations as they can”, remember to ventilate rooms as much as possible and stay up to date with all vaccine doses.

University of Canterbury professor and Covid-19 modeller Michael Plank said infections could potentially hit a similar peak to the first March wave of around 20,000 cases per day.

SOURCE: RNZ

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Covid-19 update: 9 deaths, 4024 new community cases

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The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers today is 4939 – last Monday it was 5921.

Of the deaths reported today, two were from the Auckland region, two from the Bay of Plenty, two from Wellington, two from Canterbury and one from South Canterbury, the ministry said.

One person was in their 40s, one was in their 60s, one was in their 70s, four were in their 80s and two were aged over 90. Of these people, six were women and three were men.

The nine deaths take the he total number of publicly reported deaths with Covid-19 to 1415 and the seven-day rolling average of reported deaths is 13.

There are 391 current hospitalisations and three people in ICU.

There are 53 imported cases today.

Yesterday, the ministry reported the lowest number of new community cases since February, with fewer than 1000 cases reported in Auckland for the first time in months.

Source : RNZ

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Covid-19 update: Eight more deaths, 9843 new community cases reported in NZ today

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Another eight people have died while 9843 new cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in the community, the Ministry of Health says.

There are also 421 people in hospital with the virus, 10 of whom are in intensive care, the ministry said in a statement.

Of the people who died, three were from the Southern region, two were from Auckland, two were from Northland and one was from Canterbury.

One person was in their 60s, four were in their 70s, and three were aged over 90.

The seven-day rolling average of community case numbers is 7795 – last Tuesday it was 7927.

Today’s community cases were reported Northland (288), Auckland (3,442), Waikato (792), Bay of Plenty (342), Lakes (185), Hawke’s Bay (361), MidCentral (339), Whanganui (105), Taranaki (291), Tairāwhiti (90), Wairarapa (87), Capital and Coast (600), Hutt Valley (249), Nelson Marlborough (320), Canterbury (1,305), South Canterbury (177), Southern (781), West Coast (83) and the location of six are unknown.

The ministry is reminding people who test for Covid-19 at home with a rapid antigen test (RAT) to report the test result.

Another 63 cases were recorded at the border.

Yesterday another five deaths were announced alongwith 7061 new cases.

There were 415 people in hospital with the virus, including 11 in intensive care.

Southland Hospital has been forced to turn away visitors after six cases were discovered among patients on three wards.

Inquiries are continuing into the source of the infection, Dr Hywel Lloyd who leads the Southern DHB’s Covid-19 response, told Morning Report. (source – RNZ)

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