15 Dec 2021

Covid-19 update:74 new community cases today, one death reported

1:44 pm on 15 December 2021

There are 74 new community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today.

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(File image) Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

In a statement, the Ministry of Health said the new community cases are in Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Rotorua and Canterbury.

There were also 15 new cases of Covid-19 in the Taranaki township of Eltham which will be officially added to the case figures tomorrow.

"The cases are self-isolating and initial interviews suggest they are all linked to the Eltham case reported on Sunday - with links to four of these new cases already confirmed.

"Investigations are also underway to identify, isolate, and test any close contacts and determine any locations of interest. People in Taranaki are asked to monitor the Ministry's locations of interest page, which is updated regularly."

The majority of these new cases are in pupils from a school in Eltham, which is now closed for the summer break.

There were 56 new cases reported in Auckland today, seven in Tauranga and nine in Waikato, which includes five in Te Kūiti and four in Hamilton.

There was also one new case in Canterbury and one in Rotorua.

The number of community cases in the Auckland region decreased for the third consecutive week, with 22 percent fewer cases than the week prior. This decline is mirrored across all three Auckland Metro DHBs.

Health and welfare providers are now supporting 1,971 people to isolate at home, including 474 cases.

There are 61 cases in hospital, including three in intensive care.

One person with Covid-19 has passed away in Tauranga Hospital, the Ministry has confirmed.

There were also two cases in managed isolation today.

There have now been 9963 cases in the current community outbreak and 12,773 cases since the pandemic began.

Vaccines and testing

Counties Manukau DHB has now reached 90 percent fully vaccinated, bringing all three Auckland Metro DHBs to 90 percent or more fully vaccinated. Auckland DHB is now sitting on 95 percent and Waitemata DHB is on 92 percent.

New Zealand is now 7417 doses away from being nationally 90 percent fully vaccinated.

There were 2485 first doses; 7877 second doses; 869 third primary doses and 9229 booster doses given yesterday.

Today is the first day of Auckland's border restrictions being lifted after the Delta outbreak began in August.

It is also the first day that rapid antigen testing for Covid-19 is available at approved pharmacies for unvaccinated and asymptomatic travellers over the age of 12.

While the ministry has dispatched 250,000 tests across the country, some in Auckland have told RNZ they have only received a small number, or none at all, and may have to turn people away.

In its statement today, the Ministry said it was aware that some people were being tested unnecessarily or at the wrong places.

"Unvaccinated people require a Covid-19 test for some travel including to leave Auckland. These people need to get a supervised rapid antigen test from a pharmacy, within 72 hours of travel.

"This testing is only for people over the age of 12 years and 3 months, who are not fully vaccinated and do not have any Covid-19 symptoms.

"The location and hours of pharmacies offering rapid antigen tests is available from Healthpoint. We ask people getting a rapid antigen test to be patient and kind to pharmacy staff while the system is fine-tuned."

The Ministry also said the majority of the 70,000 people with overseas vaccinations or incorrect data who were emailed a temporary exemption letter from the My Vaccine Pass have now received their pass

But it said it was also issuing a further temporary exemption letter today to some people whose applications are still being processed.

"About 5000 people are getting a week-long exemption while their requests for My Vaccine Passes are cleared, while 20,000 people vaccinated overseas will get an extension to 17 January 2022 while their vaccinations are verified."

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