17 Sep 2021

Covid-19 wrap: What happened on 17 September

6:23 pm on 17 September 2021

The resumption of the trans-Tasman travel bubble is again suspended, school holiday dates in Auckland remain unchanged and the drive to vaccinate continues.

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Photo: 123RF / RNZ

The trans-Tasman travel bubble is being suspended for a further eight weeks, the New Zealand government confirmed today.

The suspension of quarantine-free travel will be reviewed in mid to late November, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said.

In a statement, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the decision had been brought forward to enable those in Australia access to the first tranche of about 3000 rooms in MIQ.

He also said Air New Zealand was working "at pace" to put on more flights from Australia from October.

First Up this morning broadcast a special extended debate between New Zealand epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker and American infectious diseases expert Amesh Adalja covering areas such as whether New Zealand's lockdown strategy has worked and at what point New Zealand should open its borders.

School holiday dates unchanged

Education Minister Chris Hipkins has announced that the school holiday dates in Auckland will not be changed because of lockdown.

Some parents had raised concerns that students would have missed too much class time because of the level 4 restrictions, and Hipkins had been seeking advice from ministry officials about the effects of bringing the holidays forward.

However, this morning he said he had concluded that the status quo remained the best course of action and the school holidays would remain in line with the rest of the country beginning on 2 October.

Principals had previously warned that bringing the dates forward could see stressed out teachers and students and few in the sector would have supported it.

Meanwhile, it seems that peer pressure is the deciding factor in whether or not students at level 2 decide to wear a mask at school.

Principals have told RNZ most teenagers in alert level 2 areas are not bothering to wear face masks in class, even though Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield has strongly recommended them for pupils aged 12 and over.

Locations of interest in Tauranga, Covid positive truck driver in quarantine

A truck driver who has tested positive for Covid-19 has been transferred to quarantine and the Ministry of Health has identified locations of interest in the Tauranga area.

The essential worker was tested after a household member was identified as a contact. Health officials say he made deliveries at supermarkets in Auckland, Bay of Plenty and Waikato.

The locations are BP Tauriko in Tauranga on 11 September and Uppercrust Bakery in Mt Maunganui on 11 and 24 September.

The BP petrol station was closed for deep cleaning but has now reopened. A spokesperson said affected team members were isolating, undergoing testing and monitoring themselves for symptoms.

An Auckland location, the SuperValue in Flatbush, Clover Park, on 14 September was also added to the list.

Associate Minister of Health Peeni Henare said he understood the driver had probably become infectious while outside Auckland.

Vaccination drive rolls on

Vaccinators say the first fleet of Covid-19 vaccine buses nicknamed Shot Bro that took to the streets of South Auckland for the first time yesterday got off to a good start.

The buses are a collaboration with Māori and Pacific providers and the Northland and Auckland district health boards. It's part of the latest strategy to reach the city's goal of having 80 percent of eligible Aucklanders with at least one Pfizer dose by Monday.

Even senior medical staff in Auckland are pitching in to help, with about 30 surgeons, anaesthetists and other senior doctors from the Waitematā DHB becoming temporary vaccinators as thousands of operations are deferred across the city.

Meanwhile, political commentator Peter Wilson today looked at the government's "vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate" strategy and other Covid-related issues it has been facing this week.

Fox Glacier businesses struggle after latest lockdown

Fox Glacier businesses have had a long and difficult winter and several have already closed with others considering whether to hibernate or close.

Some though actually took the plunge and opened in the middle of the pandemic.

Sean Langton and his wife bought the Fox Glacier General Store earlier this year and he said while it had been tough, they were hoping to hold out until international visitors could return.

11 new Covid-19 cases in community

There were 11 new cases of Covid-19 in the community today, all in Auckland and two of them not yet linked to current cases.

There were also five new cases in MIQ.

Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay said today there are currently nine epidemologically linked sub-clusters.

There are also 10 unlinked sub-clusters that have emerged - two are active, three are contained and five are dormant. She said this meant the country can be cautiously optimistic that the current outbreak was being contained.

A positive wastewater test result had been recorded today from sample collected on Monday in east Auckland - covering Pakuranga, Bucklands Beach and Shelly Park.

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