Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Associate Minister of Health Peeni Henare have urged people to continue getting vaccinated.
Watch the Covid-19 update here:
Today there are 94 new community cases of Covid-19 in the country.
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says 84 cases in Auckland across 55 households are isolating at home.
Criteria for isolating at home is based on a public health and clinical risk assessment and take into consideration factors such as whether someone lives in a place which allows them and their household to isolate safely away from others, that there’s good phone and internet access, their own transport for testing and that they are happy and comfortable, including having the supplies they need.
Based on the latest data, five people who are pregnant have been hospitalised during this outbreak, Bloomfield says.
He says vaccination is safe and highly protective for pregnant people.
Ardern says the highs and lows of case numbers is particularly hard on people.
“The cases we are seeing right now are not confined to one part of Auckland, they are across 124 suburbs.”
“The rules matter for everyone,” she says.
“This morning in our briefing a particular focus from our public health team on the fact that they have a positivity rate, so the amount of testing relative to the number of positives coming back that is of concern to them, on the North Shore. So if you are on the North Shore, experiencing any symptoms, even if you have been vaccinated, please go and get a test.”
“Please remember, this outbreak is not in one part of Auckland.”
Ardern says the highest number of cases today are across the three age ranges least vaccinated – 39 years and under.
She says of course, under 12s are unable to be vaccinated.
“If you are young, you’re sadly not invincible. Twelve of our current hospitalisations are under 39 years of age.”
Ardern asks all Aucklanders to please get vaccinated.
She also urges people to get their second dose as soon as possible, three weeks after the first dose.
She urges people to stick with the rules, “I know it’s hard but we are so so close.”
Today’s cases include people who were non-compliant with the rules, she says.
Bloomfield says region-wide testing in Waikato is very important and will help inform decisions later in the week.
“If you have not been vaccinated yet, today is the day to do it,” he says.
Bloomfield says the Covid-19 technical advisory group has recommended individuals aged 12 and older who have a compromised immune system should receive a third primary dose of the vaccine.
This is different to a booster shot for the general population, he says.
The group includes some people with chronic diseases and people who are taking immunosuppressive therapies before or after their second dose of the vaccine.
Further advice will be provided on wider booster doses and an update will be provided next week.
‘Covid-19 is on the doorstep of your houses’ – Peeni Henare
Minister Peeni Henare thanks all Māori providers, iwi, hapū, practitioners, vaccinators and DHB staff.
“You’re efforts are indeed seen,” he says.
Henare says over the past two weeks, prior to Super Saturday, he travelled to a number of DHBs and saw great work but identified a number of challenges.
He asks those who aren’t onboard for their help. “Our whānau need you and to many of them you are the trusted person that will be key to them making an informed decision about the vaccination.”
Significant funding has already been provided to Hauora Māori to support and build capability for the vaccine programme, he says.
He says if you need support to make your decision, get your information from official sources or you can speak to kaumātua and kuia who are currently leading vaccination rates amongst Māori communities.
An announcement will be made later in the week regarding support for the Māori vaccination effort.
“We’ve seen the threat that this current Covid-19 outbreak is to the wellbeing of Māori communities with a total of 560 Māori cases recorded. In the last two weeks, Māori have made up 45.7 percent of total cases vs 28 percent throughout the entire outbreak. Although sobering, these number reinforce why vaccinating our communities is so important.”
“So I say to the Māori people, Covid-19 is on the doorstep of your houses, do not let it enter and the best course of protection still remains for us to vaccinate our people.”
Ardern says they’ve always been concerned with creating a space where it can be interpreted that there’s room for people to be left behind. They’ve been thinking about Māori vaccination rates in the work they are doing ahead of Friday.
She says the work going on right now with Māori providers, and the government needing to make sure it provides all the resources required, is critical.
“Regardless that needs to continue until we reach everyone.”
Henare says vaccination is key not just for the community in Tāmaki Makaurau but everywhere.
Ardern says rates for older Māori are high. But there is a group of, particularly young people and certain parts of the country, who don’t think it’s real or it effects them.
Henare says he spoke to a number of PHO and GP clinics were who were focusing on the day to day work in their clinics rather than the vaccination numbers and it is them he implores to them continue to help drive up the numbers. But he acknowledges a number he met with were heavily involved in the vaccination effort.
There is an R value of between 1.2 and 1.3, Ardern says.
She doesn’t want people to rely on vaccination at this stage, “The rules also need to be followed.”
Henare says some of the challenges are around funding distribution and the speed it is being put out to Māori health providers.
“I’ve also noticed a lack of strong leadership amongst the community, including the DHB with respect to what’s required for the vaccine rollout.”
“In Taranaki, for example, we heard from Māori health providers and iwi that they were dissatisfied with the job that the DHB was doing. We met with the DHB and can now confirm that 16 hapū in the DHB are working together to continue to rollout the vaccine in that community. Only two hapū have decided not to be involved with that but the door will continue to be open to them.”
Henare says it’s “proved problematic” the second round of funding was put out through the DHB, the first round was direct funding to Māori health providers.
Ardern says it’s not fair to say they haven’t focused on this issue.
She says at every point they’ve tried to ensure they have had an equitable rollout of the vaccine programme.
Aked if it’s good enough community leaders felt the need to fundraise for a vaccine cline, Henare says he doesn’t think so at all.
The gap was not raised with him on Thursday when he sat with Māori health providers, he says.
Ardern says everyone has the same goal “but this is actually really hard work now, because now we are needing to go out street by street, town by town and have direct conversations.”
In February the cool store requirements were different than they are now, Henare says.
There was really constrained supply when the rollout began, Ardern says.
There wasn’t the ability to do what is being done now, she says. “The strong public health advice was we needed to focus in on those who were confronting Covid at the border, those who had comorbidities, those who were in our older age brackets and we also pritoritised Counties Manukau.”
Asked if the government’s response breaches the Treaty of Waitangi, the prime minister says “no”.
Asked the same, Henare says he has been quite clear, Te Tiriti was kept at the forefront of the way decisions were made “And I’m quite comfortable with that”.
Earlier today, Ardern told Morning Report people who are not vaccinated will miss out on doing everyday things when the new Covid-19 response framework is rolled out.
A new Covid-19 response framework is being finalised and will be released on Friday.