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There are 144 new Covid community cases today including one in Hawke's Bay - and a child who has tested positive in Canterbury after travelling internationally.
Another person has died of the virus - a patient in their 80s who was admitted to North Shore Hospital last Thursday. They died on Saturday night after receiving "appropriate ward-level care", said the Ministry of Health in a statement.
Most of today's new cases - 128 - are again from Auckland. There are also nine cases in Waikato, four in Bay of Plenty, two in Northland, one in Hawke's Bay. There is also one in Canterbury, classified as a border case.
Eighty-two people are in hospital, including nine in intensive care.
The ministry said health officials were continuing to assess the latest international information on the new B.1.1529 variant, which the World Health Organization has named Omicron.
Britain has tightened its international border and mask-wearing requirements after two Omicron cases were detected there, and in Australia it is feared passengers on board a flight into Sydney from southern Africa, who tested positive, could be infected with the variant.
New Zealand has restricted travel for people from nine southern Africa countries.
Canterbury child traveller has Covid
A new case was reported in Canterbury today.
The child travelled from London to Doha in Qatar on November 16, and from Doha to Auckland on November 18.
"They left managed isolation last week and tested positive on their Day 9 test while in home quarantine," the ministry said.
The child flew from Auckland to Christchurch on Thursday on Air NZ Flight NZ8475, arriving in Christchurch at 10.50am.
"Anyone who is considered a contact of this case will be contacted directly," the Ministry of Health added.
"Unless you are contacted you do not need to do anything other than watch for symptoms and get tested straight away if you develop any symptoms of Covid-19."
The child is today isolating at home with family. Any locations of interest in relation to this case will be released publicly.
Health officials said high testing rates would help minimise the spread of Covid-19 in Christchurch.
The ministry said local clinics had plenty of capacity for anyone in Canterbury wanting a first or second vaccine dose.
Travel rules after MIQ
Under current rules for travellers, a person can use public transport, including domestic flights, when moving from MIQ facilities to home isolation.
International arrivals must spend seven days in MIQ. After that, they must self-isolate until a negative day 9 Covid-19 test is returned.
The ministry urged people to reach self-isolation locations as soon as possible without stopping.
And although authorities recommend private transport, public transport is allowed if a private trip is unavailable.
Anybody moving from MIQ to home isolation by taxi, plane or other public transport is supposed to wear a face mask at all times.
The ministry's website said people could remove face masks "briefly" to eat or drink.
People leaving MIQ on public transport are also urged to maintain physical distancing where possible from people outside their bubble, to wash hands frequently, and to use the Covid-19 tracer app.
Hawke's Bay case
The Hawke's Bay DHB confirmed a new case was detected late last night and the person was now self-isolating. The person tested positive as part of routine surveillance swabbing when they visited Hawke's Bay Hospital's emergency department in Hastings after feeling unwell.
A number of exposure events and locations - including the emergency department - had been identified where close contacts could be identified, said the Ministry of Health in a statement.
Just before 1pm on Sunday, the Ministry announced the first three Hawke's Bay locations of interest:
• Lick this Ice Cream Parlour, Napier, Sunday November 21, 2pm-3pm
• Pak'nSave Napier, Thursday, November 25, 8.30pm-10pm
• Unichem Stortford Lodge Pharmacy, Hastings, Saturday November 27, 4.15pm-5.15pm
Emergency department staff were wearing PPE and none have been stood down as a result, the ministry said.
"The public health team has identified close household contacts who are all now isolating. Further interviews with the positive case and testing for all close and wider contacts will continue today," the ministry said.
Nine of today's new confirmed cases are in the Waikato. Five are in Hamilton, two in Te Kūiti, one in Cambridge, one in Kawhia.
All these new cases are unlinked to previous cases, but health official are investigating possible connections.
Five pop-up and dedicated testing sites were operating across Waikato today in Hamilton, Ōtorohanga, Huntly, and Te Kūiti.
Bay of Plenty cases
The pandemic continues to linger in Bay of Plenty, where four new cases have been recorded.
One is based in the Whakatāne district, and the other three are in the Tauranga area. The Whakatāne district case and one of the Tauranga cases are linked to previously reported cases, health officials said today.
The remaining two Tauranga area cases are household contacts, with links to previously reported cases still being investigated.
All these four cases are self-isolating at home.
Vaccine doses, booster rollout
There were 20,873 first and second vaccine doses administered yesterday, made up 6378 first doses and 14,495 second doses. To date, 92 per cent of eligible people in New Zealand have had their first dose and 85 per cent are fully vaccinated.
The Ministry of Health has now issued more than 2.26 million My Vaccine Passes.
Booster vaccinations will be available throughout the country from tomorrow.
While the priority is still getting people fully vaccinated, healthcare, border workers and kaumātua who have been fully vaccinated for six months or more can now get their boosters, Director General Ashley Bloomfield said today.
"Vaccination is the best protection against Covid-19. Booster doses will be available free for anyone in New Zealand aged 18 or older who has completed their two-dose course more than six months ago," Bloomfield said.
DHBs are working hard to reach those who were in the early priority groups of the vaccine rollout, particularly border and healthcare workers, older Māori and Pacific people, and those in Aged Residential Care (ARC).
"People will be able to access boosters in New Zealand, whether they received their earlier doses here or overseas," Bloomfield said.
"The Pfizer vaccine will be used for boosters, regardless of which vaccine was used for earlier doses. There's no need to rush to get the booster. The science shows fully vaccinated people remain really well protected from infection, and from being seriously ill if they do get Covid-19. There is plenty of existing stock of the Pfizer vaccine in New Zealand and this will not run out."
Most in hospital unvaccinated
Nationwide, 82 people are in hospital with Covid-19. Nine of those are in intensive care units.
Middlemore Hospital in Ōtāhuhu has 32 patients and Auckland City Hospital has 31.
North Shore Hospital has 14 patients with Covid-19, Waikato Hospital has four, and one person in Rotorua has been hospitalised.
A majority of all those in hospital are unvaccinated or ineligible for vaccination.
Across the country, 92 per cent of eligible people have received one vaccine dose and 85 per cent are fully vaccinated.
Slightly more than 20,000 people were vaccinated yesterday, with roughly two-thirds receiving a second dose but 6,378 getting their vaccine for the first time.
Across Auckland, 4114 people are isolating at home. That number includes 1119 people who have Covid.
New Omicron variant
The ministry is keeping an eye on the global response to the potentially more contagious Omicron variant of Covid-19, which has been linked to a number of cases in South Africa.
It is being reported that Pfizer will update its vaccine within 100 days if the Omicron variant is found to be resistant to its current vaccine.
Nine southern African countries are being added to the New Zealand Government's very high risk countries list: South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Seychelles, Malawi and Mozambique.
It means only Kiwi citizens can travel to New Zealand from those countries and will have to stay a full 14 days in MIQ and undergo testing. The newer MIQ model of seven days in managed isolation and three days at home for other returnees will continue.
Australia, Brazil, Canada, the European Union, Iran, Japan, Thailand and the United States have also restricted travel from the southern African subcontinent, in response to warnings over the transmissibility of the new variant — against the advice of the World Health Organisation.
There are reports of cases of the variant among travellers in Belgium, Israel and Hong Kong.
But back in New Zealand, the Ministry of Health remains confident.
"We remain in a good position to minimise the impact of any new variants with isolation and routine testing of international arrivals," it said yesterday.
Yesterday there were 145 new cases reported across Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Canterbury.
Two cases reported in Ruakaka, Northland yesterday will be officially added to today's case numbers.
Anyone in Ruakaka with symptoms – no matter how mild – is encouraged to get a test. A pop-up testing site is continuing to operate at the Ruakaka Racecourse over the weekend.
There were 13 cases in Waikato, four in Bay of Plenty and one in Canterbury.
A patient who was in their 80s died at Auckland City Hospital yesterday, and 77 infected others remain in hospital care.
A total of 92 per cent of eligible people have received their first dose of the vaccine, and 85 per cent are fully vaccinated.
The Ministry of Health had issued more than 2.1 million My Vaccine Passes, which Aucklanders were mandated to use from Thursday in order to get a haircut.
Tomorrow, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is set to announce how the roll-out of the new traffic light Covid-19 framework will affect regions from next week.