22 Dec 2021

Covid-19 update: 56 new community cases, 51 people in hospital

6:02 pm on 22 December 2021

There are 56 new community cases of Covid-19 today and 51 people are in hospital.

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Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

In a statement, the Health Ministry also confirmed there was a new case in the Wellington region, after several locations of interest in Hutt Valley were identified.

The ministry said six new cases of Omicron have now been detected in recent returnees, bringing the total number of international arrivals in MIQ with the Omicron variant to 28.

It said of the 45 Covid-19 cases that have been detected at the New Zealand border since the start of the month, 28 were the Omicron variant.

The 51 cases in hospital include two in Waikato and one in Tauranga, with the rest in Auckland hospitals.

Today's new community cases were in Auckland (33), Waikato (6), Bay of Plenty (11), Rotorua (3), Taupō (1), Taranaki (1), Hutt Valley (1).

The six new cases in Waikato today include three in Te Kūiti, two in Tokoroa and one who usually resides outside the Waikato and is isolating in Te Kūiti. Ten of the 11 cases reported in the Bay of Plenty today are in the Tauranga area and one is in Murupara.

There were also three new cases and one historical case identified at the border.

There have been 10,375 cases in the current community outbreak and 13,219 cases since the pandemic began.

The ministry also confirmed today that a recent returnee who self-discharged from Middlemore Hospital on Monday along with their child has voluntarily returned to the facility.

Wastewater detections

The ministry said a wastewater sample collected from Hutt Valley on 20 December detected the coronavirus, which was not unexpected given the case reported today, self-isolating in the area.

But it said a third consecutive positive wastewater result from Napier in the past week may be due to undetected community transmission or a recently recovered case returning to the region shedding the virus.

There were also unexpected wastewater detections in Whitianga on 20 December; and in Dargaville on 20 December, following a previous positive detection on 7 December.

Covid-19 also continues to be detected in wastewater samples collected in Gisborne.

More DHBs close in on 90 percent target

There were 20,328 vaccine doses given yesterday - 1860 first doses and 6273 second doses. The ministry said 94 percent of eligible people in New Zealand have had their first dose and 90 percent are double-dosed.

It said South Canterbury DHB needed just 59 more doses to become the 11th DHB to hit the 90 percent fully vaccinated milestone later today. Hawke's Bay DHB needs 1308 doses and Waikato 2866 doses.

There are calls to cut the numbers of people allowed into the country to slow the arrival of the highly virulent Omicron strain of the Covid-19 virus.

The government has announced three measures intended to fend off the more transmissible variant for "as long as possible". They've pushed back the first phase of the border reopening, tightened pre-departure tests, and extended time in managed isolation.

The ministry also said today that New Zealanders should stick to the basics to reduce the risk of catching and spreading Covid-19 over the Christmas and New Year break.

"That means wearing a mask or face covering and physical distancing in crowded or unventilated spaces, and scanning in using the Covid-19 Tracer app or keeping a manual diary.

"As always, people who have any symptoms that could be Covid-19 are asked to get a test and stay at home until they receive a negative result."

Booster shots

At present, 62 percent of people now eligible for their Pfizer booster have received their third dose.

The government yesterday announced that the window between the second and third injections would be reduced from six months to four.

This meant that by the end of February, 82 percent of those already fully vaccinated will be due their booster.

A Ministry of Health spokesperson today confirmed that from 5 January those who received their booster four months ago would be able to walk into any clinic and be vaccinated without a booking.

Otherwise, those preferring to book will need to wait until 17 January.

"This period will allow for the necessary operational changes to be made by the ministry ahead of these key dates," the spokesperson said.

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