15 Sep 2021

Covid-19 wrap: what happened on 15 September

5:56 pm on 15 September 2021

The New Zealand government will soon reopen MIQ voucher bookings, a vaccination bus is planned to go through South Auckland neighbourhoods, and there's a call for Covid-19 drugs to be funded.

Covid-19 wrap for 15 September 2021

Photo: RNZ

Here's a look at what happened on 15 September:

MIQ bookings reopen

Announcing changes to the MIQ booking system today, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said 4000 rooms a fortnight will be released each fortnight between now and Christmas.

About 3000 of those rooms will be released from Monday.

Hipkins said anyone who entered the virtual 'lobby system' between 8am and 9am on Monday will have an equal chance of securing a room. He said the lobby was designed so that bots could not access it.

Vaccination drive

From tomorrow, vaccination buses will be in South Auckland neighbourhoods in a bid to boost inoculation numbers.

The vehicles would operate according to equity targets set by the District Health Boards (DHBs), targeting demographics with low rates of vaccination.

Covid-19 drugs

There are two major monoclonal antibodies (Mabs) used for Covid-19: Regen-Cov (manufactured by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals) and Sotrovimab (by GlaxoSmithKline).

University of Otago professor Kurt Krause, an infectious diseases doctor, said Regen-Cov had shown to be safe and effective, and it was highly likely Sotrovimab was too.

Scientists are not claiming it would replace a vaccine, rather it would add more protection, complementary to a vaccine.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said yesterday Medsafe was considering one of the Mabs.

Alert restriction breaches

More than 1000 people have been turned away trying to cross Auckland's boundary checkpoints in the past two weeks.

Police said a man was stopped towing a boat at the Coal Hill Road checkpoint in Mangawhai yesterday and claimed he was transporting goods, but it turned out the man was using his exemption for personal reasons after purchasing the boat.

People permitted to cross the Auckland boundary will soon need to produce proof they have had a test in the past seven days.

The couple who flouted Auckland lockdown rules to travel to Wānaka were named last night as William Willis, a 35-year-old equestrian from Karaka, and his partner Hannah Rawnsley, a 26-year-old barrister from Pukekohe.

The Law Society said lawyers were provided with an official letter to travel to priority court hearings. This is the only travel permit provided to lawyers, who are not essential workers.

School holidays

The government is yet to decide whether the school holidays will be moved forward due to the lockdown.

School holidays are due to start from 2 October - by that date Auckland parents may have had their children learning from home for nine weeks.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said the best place for students was school, but there was no timeframe for that yet.

By the numbers

There are 14 new community cases of Covid-19 reported today, all in Auckland.

There are 983 cases in the current outbreak.

There are 20 cases in hospital, including four in ICU or HDU.

The Health Ministry said 441 of the 966 Auckland cases had now recovered, while all but two of Wellington's 17 cases have also recovered.

There have now been 3981 cases of the coronavirus in New Zealand since the pandemic began.

Around the world

The Australian state of New South Wales reported 12 deaths and 1259 new community infections over the 24 hours to 8pm yesterday. Currently, 47.5 percent of people are fully vaccinated - the figure needs to be 70 percent for more freedoms.

In the UK, Covid-19 vaccines have saved more than 112,000 lives and averted 24 million cases of the disease, British officials said on Tuesday as they recommended all vulnerable people, frontline health staff and those aged over 50 be offered a booster shot.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday he was self-isolating after several members of his entourage fell ill with Covid-19, including someone he worked with in close proximity and had been in close contact with all of the previous day.

In India, a study of 614 fully vaccinated health workers found a "significant" drop in their Covid-fighting antibodies within four months of the first shot. Waning antibodies do not necessarily mean that immunised people lose their ability to counter the disease, as the body's memory cells may still kick in to offer substantial protection, said the director of a state-run institute that did the study.

Covid-19 cases and deaths in India have come down sharply since a peak of more than 400,000 infections in early May. India has reported 33.29 million cases in total and 443,213 deaths.

- with additional reporting by Reuters

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