Covid-19 update: New Zealand should expect Delta ‘short and sharp’ response – Hipkins

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New Zealand will quickly move to alert level four if a case of the Covid-19 Delta variant is detected there, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has confirmed.

Hipkins and Chief Health Officer Dr Ashley Bloomfield provide an update on the novel coronavirus and vaccines.

Watch the update here:

Hipkins warned that even the gold standard of contact tracing is not enough on its own to control the Delta variant, as seen in New South Wales and that the variant continues to “wreak havoc.” .

“Even the gold standard of contact tracing is not always enough to keep the delta variant at bay. We have seen this in New South Wales, where they have already eliminated Covid cases very effectively- 19 with their only contact tracing system, but they failed to achieve it this time. Sydney, Australia’s largest city, is now in its seventh week of restrictions, including the stay at residence. “

He said the government would continue to use contact tracing but would also seek to rapidly increase alert levels – whether regionally or nationally – if cases were discovered. With Delta, this means that a quick move to Alert Level Four is more likely if cases are detected.

“A short, blunt lockdown is more likely to be successful in today’s environment than a longer, longer, lower level response. So my message to all New Zealanders is that it is not over, that we are will still be dealing with Covid-19 for a while.

“Other blockages are possible, if they were to happen they would happen as they did before on very short notice. And everyone should have a plan for what they would do under these circumstances.”

That is why we have decided, based on the latest public health advice, to add Indonesia and Fiji to the list of very high risk countries, he said.

He said the countries announced in April remain on the list, but that will be subject to regular review and travelers passing through New Zealand from Fiji will still be allowed to travel.

The very high risk countries announced in April were: India, Brazil, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea.

Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Dr Bloomfield said there were no new community cases and two new cases in managed isolation.

He said vaccination was a very important part of New Zealand’s future to reconnect with the rest of the world, as today’s report led by Sir David Skegg revealed.

Hipkins said 850,000 New Zealanders were now fully vaccinated and 2,293,301 doses of the vaccine had now been administered.

Some 120,418 group three vaccines were given in the past seven days, more than three-quarters more than in the same period a month ago, Hipkins said.

The saliva testing regimen is also being rolled out nationwide for border workers, Hipkins said, and will be extended in August and September.

“As Professor Skegg noted in his report… we must be prepared to maintain our border before we open our border.”

Dr Bloomfield said the majority of Tauranga port workers who were isolated were now ready to return to work. Public health officials will be in touch to advise them, he said.

He says the ESR assessment is that the ship’s pilot was likely infected by the crew, not the other way around.

The ministry is reviewing the handling of the container ship Rio de la Plata and is separately conducting a broader review of the handling of ships that recently docked in New Zealand with Covid-19 on board.

No legend

Chief Health Officer Dr Ashley Bloomfield and Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins.
Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Hipkins said things like intensive care beds, ventilators, oxygen supply were factored into contingency planning.

Dr Bloomfield said they were looking at whether and where additional intensive care beds needed to be built, but one of the main challenges in having those additional beds was the staffing of nurses.

He said that in preparation for the Delta variant, authorities are once again looking into this more closely.

Hipkins said the government is considering a system that will place more emphasis on giving people a first dose of vaccine, rather than focusing on second doses.

He said the recommendation to require scanning of the QR code is under development and an announcement can be expected on this in the next two weeks.

Hipkins said the use of the mask could be a much more important and important feature of a future response to an outbreak in New Zealand. He said contact tracing, including scanning the QR code, is also vitally important in helping New Zealand get out quickly, for example, from a strict and rapid level four lockdown should Delta arrive. .

“Once Cabinet makes the decisions, I’ll work on it. It’s not far now.”

When asked about asymptomatic transmission, Hipkins said the big difference from previous variants is that the incubation period with Delta is a few days shorter.

“This shorter period between when people are infected and when they become contagious makes contact tracing much more difficult.”

He said it can be seen in New South Wales.

Hipkins said the latest figures showed 61 percent of port workers had received both doses of the vaccine and 9 percent had received only one dose.

“We still have an ongoing challenge with our contract labor in ports.”

The majority of people employed as longshoremen at the port of Tauranga did not work directly for the port, most were contractors, he said.

He said one of the ways to help contact tracing be effective is to limit the movement of people.

Hipkins said that upon reading all of the reports, the advice has become more pessimistic over time because “the risk we face changes all the time.”

“The reality is that we are facing a situation that continues to evolve and change.

“As soon as we can provide more certainty, of course we will seek to do so,” he said, but the Prime Minister’s statements in response to the Skegg report tomorrow will not be a “specific plan with milestones and delays”.

Hipins says the world has not just returned to normal after September 11, it has returned to a new normal, and this also applies to Covid-19.

“We don’t quite know which way to go yet.”


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