14 Nov 2021

Covid-19: A new case high, as 'clock ticking' for Christmas

10:19 pm on 14 November 2021

Health experts say today's record high Covid-19 case numbers are a reminder that the whole country needs to be on the lookout for the virus.

Nurses in the Far North Vaccinating during the lockdown

Nurses in the Far North Vaccinating during the lockdown Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Auckland University associate professor and microbiologist Dr Siouxsie Wiles said the 207 community cases today - just above the previous record high of 206 cases on 6 November - are disappointing but not surprising, given that people are moving around more.

She expects case numbers to keep rising but said areas outside Auckland can take action to stamp out local outbreaks.

"We really need people to be getting tested if they have any symptoms, and also keeping track of their movements, and letting contact tracers know where they've been."

"So if everybody can do that, then we should be able to stamp out those cases again."

Dr Wiles said if people don't take measures such as self-isolating there will be bigger outbreaks in areas beyond Auckland.

A total of 90 percent of New Zealanders have now had their first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine and 81 percent are fully vaccinated.

The latest figures show almost 27,000 first and second vaccine doses were given nationally yesterday.

A pop up vaccination site at Stratford railway station, Friday 5 November

Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Epidemiologist and Otago University professor Michael Baker said there are only five days left for people to get their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine if they want to be fully protected before Christmas.

He said the clock is ticking and it's time to start a conversation with vaccine-hesitant friends and family.

In the areas with active cases, 71 percent of eligible Northlanders have had their second dose, 85 percent in Auckland, 78 percent in Waikato, 75 percent in Taranaki, 81 percent in Canterbury, 73 percent in Lakes DHB and 78 percent in MidCentral.

Ninety people are in hospital - most in Auckland but there is also one case each in Whangārei and Dargaville.

Of the hospital cases, 59 percent are unvaccinated or not eligible for a vaccine.

Baker said he recommends only having vaccinated people at Christmas gatherings.

"If you have an unvaccinated person there, and the virus will be manifesting quite widely over that period, they are real risks to everyone at those events, and particularly to unvaccinated children and older people who may not have mounted such a good immune response to the vaccine."

Baker said the government should keep a solid boundary around Auckland and keep the rest of the country in an elimination mode.

He also said the rollout of vaccines for children from ages 5 to 11 should start before Christmas.

"I think that would be a great Christmas gift to the children of New Zealand."

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