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Covid 19 coronavirus: New Zealand vaccine rollout is ‘messy’, says rest house boss | Instant News

Chris Bishop disclosed “leaked” information that said New Zealand was 300,000 overdue for vaccines. Parliamentary Video / TV


“Shambolic” is how a resting boss describes the launch of the Covid-19 and influenza vaccines.

The elderly and workers are in priority category two and, according to the government schedule, are expected to start getting the Covid-19 vaccine from March.

On Thursday, the Elderly Care Association told RNZ that the Government needs to provide certainty around the date.

Allan Sargeant, who runs three Auckland vacation homes, said winter delays were approaching and bureaucracy was putting its vulnerable residents at risk.

“Totally messy. That’s one word I can use. It’s the only word that describes what’s happening in the industry right now.

“We were given, on March 5 after the February cluster, we were given an email asking for data collection for our staff – details for frontline health workers so they could be vaccinated as soon as possible.

“We were only given two days or three days to pass the information on to DHB.”

There needs to be more certainty about the date of vaccination, says the Aged Care Association.  Photo / Michael Craig
There needs to be more certainty about the date of vaccination, says the Aged Care Association. Photo / Michael Craig

On March 18, they were advised to give Covid-19 vaccination before influenza vaccination.

Since then, Sargeant told RNZ he has been waiting for information from the Auckland District Health Council on when the Covid-19 vaccine will be available to residents in his retirement home.

“On March 25 I asked for updates and programs: ‘give me a date. I don’t care if it’s April or May, give me a date so I can find out what we were doing’.

“Yesterday there were none of them. More requests and finally we decided that we had to give the influenza vaccine before the Covid-19 vaccine.

“When you have the Covid vaccine, you have to get the second dose 21 days after the first dose. And then you have to wait 14 days before you get the influenza vaccine.

“Even if they start in the next few weeks, with Covid-19 before influenza, we won’t be able to vaccinate our vulnerable population with influenza vaccinations until sometime in June. And that’s totally unacceptable.”

The Transtasman bubbles add even more pressure

The temperature had already dropped in Auckland as winter approached, said Sargeant.

“And there are coughs and colds coming from some of our residents and staff.

“Now is usually the time we will do the influenza vaccination. What has improved it for everyone in our facility and all our residents and families is that the transtasman bubble is about to open, and that increases the risk for our residents. traveling from Australia, and they may carry the flu-type virus without being detected. “

The government has announced that the transtasman bubble will open from April 19.  Photo / Mark Mitchell
The government has announced that the transtasman bubble will open from April 19. Photo / Mark Mitchell

He said elderly care providers must look after vulnerable people.

“We are their only protectors. So you know we need information about how to make good decisions, but it won’t come. It’s ridiculous.”

He is responsible for 152 residents in three locations, including two high-risk dementia units and about 160 staff.

Sargeant said he was frustrated that he wanted to do his planning and he also had a family ask him about vaccinations for their loved ones.

“The lack of information is astonishing.”

He said yesterday he was aware of the launch of the Auckland metro area by the North Regional Health Coordination Center for Auckland.

This contradicts previous information, he said. The rest home is in South Auckland and they had previously been told after the city’s February Covid-19 cluster that the South Auckland area would be prioritized so they expect vaccinations to start in early April.

Staffing, storage problems

Sargeant has heard that the Ministry of Health is having problems with the staff and storage of the vaccine cold chain.

“I just don’t know if they’re equipped to launch something this big.”

The marae vaccination center in Manurewa.  Photo / Michael Craig
The marae vaccination center in Manurewa. Photo / Michael Craig

He said when Auckland goes into a level 2 or 3 lockout, the rest house goes into a level 4 lockout.

“So that means there are no visitors, the mental health of our families and the residents themselves who suffer every time we go into lockdown. You know, with limited visits or no visits, it is really stressful for everyone, and it can only be reduced. by giving the Covid vaccine faster. “

He has a simple request for service.

“Get ready to act and come up with a plan. I can plan in a day. It’s not rocket science. You have a team of people going around the facility, handing out vaccines …”

He said the spreadsheets could be arranged, the facilities could be done sequentially and each one would be given a date.

He said some doctors already have the flu vaccine but are not allowed to start giving it to people over the age of 65 to April 14. The remaining supplies for those under 65 will not arrive in the country until May.

The teddy bear in the front window of the Kapiti Rest House.  Photo / David Haxton
The teddy bear in the front window of the Kapiti Rest House. Photo / David Haxton

Asked if he was at his wits end, Sargeant said he also felt frustration from his clinical team as well.

“They are doing a selfless duty to look after the most vulnerable people in our society and they are asking for help and some guidance on this matter and the information is absurd and as I said at the start, messy. We cannot understand the direct and answer. it was so frustrating and I had the frustration come from them when they were trying to protect these people. “

Invitation to staff from next week – coordination center

In a statement to RNZ, the North Regional Health Coordination Center said that invitations would start sending out early next week to nursing home care staff to be vaccinated at one of its community vaccination centers.

“We are also planning outreach vaccination teams to vaccinate the nursing home population. We will start this vaccination in the next few weeks. We will start in South Auckland as this is highlighted by the Government as a priority area to reduce the chance of future outbreaks given its location. to a border access point. “

The statement also said elderly care facilities were at the top of the priority list. If they can finish their flu shots by April 23, they should move on.

The coordination center said it was working very hard on the vaccination launch, the largest single logistical exercise the health system has ever handled. Once a confirmed start date for the Covid-19 vaccine is available, the elderly care sector will know.

Decisions based on vaccine availability – ministries

In response, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health said it set a start date for the program based on information from suppliers about vaccine availability, and based on feedback from sectors they need stocks to arrive before the start of the program.

“We know that distribution is taking longer to some parts of the country and it is important that all providers have stock before the start date.

“The program start date for people aged 65 and over remains April 14th. Having a national start date is important because it allows nationwide consistent messaging and equitable access to vaccines across the country.”


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New Zealand’s water workforce is struggling to generate multibillion-dollar investments | Instant News

Max Vollenbroich, of the German company Amex-Sanivar, is working to repair a damaged mud pipe. Photo / Provided

The country’s water workforce is struggling to meet huge growth and infrastructure needs as decades of underinvestment in pipelines can finally be overcome.

Water New Zealand’s latest National Performance Review shows $ 1.6 billion was spent on capital improvements last year.

That increased 44 percent for water supply and 30 percent for wastewater discharges over the previous year.

The 2019/2020 study covers about 90 percent of the population and 42 water suppliers.

But the Department of Home Affairs estimates the cost of repairing New Zealand’s wretched pipeline could be as high as $ 110 billion over the next 30 to 40 years.

Generating billions of dollars in investment on this problem is only half the equation.

One actually has to do the job physically too.

The study found, on average, only 77 percent of budgeted capital expenditure was spent in the past financial year.

Water New Zealand chief executive Gillian Blythe said the lack of people to complete the project was widely recognized as the main reason for this gap.

The review reveals that the workforce is struggling to keep up with existing growth rates despite a 25 percent increase in the number of people employed in the past four years.

“High vacancy rates continue to be a feature, with vacancy rates of 8 percent in the three water sectors,” said Blythe.

“This has an impact on the ability of service providers to keep up with the level of service demanded by consumers and regulatory standards.

Wellington's water infrastructure has hit a breaking point after decades of underinvestment.  Photo / Jack Crossland
Wellington’s water infrastructure has hit a breaking point after decades of underinvestment. Photo / Jack Crossland

The New Zealand audit recently raised concerns about the matter with Wellington City Council.

The council has budgeted an estimated $ 678 million over the next 10 years to deliver a three-water capital city program.

But audit director Karen Young said shipping was risky because of other large infrastructure projects within the region and nationally, competing for limited resources.

“This, coupled with the uncertainty of Covid-19, could result in the council failing to deliver on its capital program in the coming years, which could have an impact on service levels.”

Wellington Water’s Renewed Long Term Planning report published earlier this year says that local market capacities and capabilities are currently measured for historically static funding levels.

Wellington Water manages water assets for the Hutt, Porirua, Upper Hutt and Wellington City councils, the Wairarapa South District Council and the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

The company requests an independent review of the capabilities and capacities of the local sector, which will be accepted.

Wellington Water chief executive Colin Crampton (left) and Wellington Mayor Andy Foster assessing a map of the city's water network.  Photo / Georgina Campbell
Wellington Water chief executive Colin Crampton (left) and Wellington Mayor Andy Foster assessing a map of the city’s water network. Photo / Georgina Campbell

Last year, Wellington Water launched an accelerated apprenticeship scheme for Three Waters’ vital workforce to retrain 100 people.

The company did not succeed in promoting to the Government as a Covid-19 response project that is ready to shovel.

Wellington Water Group’s Customer Operations Manager Kevin Locke said on the ground, large-scale investment was being challenged by fragmented ownership and a construction sector crippled by outdated working methods.

“This work will be done faster, more efficiently, in a way that builds lasting benefits for the nation and supports an innovation-oriented economy.”

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta previously said she was working with Water New Zealand on what it takes to grow dedicated hydropower.

He gave the example of a team of technicians who were flown in from Germany amid the Covid-19 lockdown to repair two damaged mud pipes in Wellington.

“This just shows me the amount of planning and investment we have to do … so that we have our own workforce that we can rely on for all aspects of our network service”, he said at a public meeting.

Blythe said the situation created opportunities for school leavers and those looking for new avenues.

“The water sector is a great place to work for those interested in giving back to their communities and environment.”


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Coronavirus Covid-19: How the ‘super spread’ sparked the outbreak in New Zealand | Instant News

New Zealand Level 4 cluster location. Video / NZ Herald

Researchers have reconstructed New Zealand’s main Covid-19 outbreak to find that one in five adults is responsible for up to 85 percent of the spread of the virus.

New analysis, published in the journal PLOS One, has highlighted the importance of targeting super spread events to combat turmoil.

It also shows that children under 10 infect fewer people on average and are less likely to become “super-spreaders,” defined as infecting more than five other people.

New Zealand recorded nearly 1,500 cases of Covid-19 between February 26 and May 22 last year, before a nationwide lockdown and several other major measures effectively eliminated the virus.

In the study, Associate Professor Alex James and fellow modeler Te Punaha Matatini used a wealth of case data – mostly collected through contact tracing – to find patterns around how the virus spreads in these important months.

They found that, before moving to alert level 4, more than half of all domestic cases resulted in at least one secondary case.

But age plays a role in how many other people who are infected can pass on the virus.

Modeling shows the effective reproductive rate (R) – the mean number of secondary cases – is estimated at 0.87 for children under 10 years, 1.49 for people between 10 and 65, and 1.51 for those older than 65.

“Although children under 10 years of age are equally likely to infect at least one person, adults tend to infect more people than children under 10 years of age,” the researchers reported.

Cases among adults and the elderly also had a “significant” chance – 6 percent in the 10 to 65 group and 7 percent in the over 65 year group – of being a super-spreader.

During the lockdown, the R rate fell to below one for all of these age groups except for those over the age of 65 – something that may be due to elderly care facilities being over-represented in data from later stages of the epidemic.

In all, the researchers identified 29 super spreaders – 21 of which had symptoms of Covid-19 before the lockdown began.

Of the other eight who had symptoms during lockdown, six were involved in the elderly care group.

The study also highlighted that children under 10 tend to have a lower “secondary attack rate” – a measure that determines the likelihood of infection spreading among a close or vulnerable group of people, such as households.

Researchers have reconstructed New Zealand's main Covid-19 outbreak, to find that one in five adults is responsible for up to 85 percent of the spread of the virus.  Photo / Bevan Conley
Researchers have reconstructed New Zealand’s main Covid-19 outbreak, to find that one in five adults is responsible for up to 85 percent of the spread of the virus. Photo / Bevan Conley

This is in line with research abroad – such as the finding that “super-spread” events are a major contributor to transmission.

“Our results show that among adults 20 percent of cases are responsible for between 65 percent and 85 percent of transmission,” the researchers said.

“This suggests that interventions targeting super spreaders or super spread events may be very effective in reducing the spread of Covid-19.

“This may include restrictions on collection size, especially in confined environments or crowded spaces.”

Meanwhile, another paper has just been published in the US journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, has underlined the important role real-time genome sequencing plays in the country’s next major outbreak.

While health officials struggled to contain the Auckland cluster in August – which ultimately led to 179 infections and three deaths – scientists helped link the cases by sequencing the genomes of positive samples.

Overall, they were able to generate genomes from about 81 percent of laboratory-confirmed samples – or 145 of 179 cases – and then compare them with available global genome data.

It quickly informed them that the virus behind the outbreak was part of a group – and thus from one introduction into the community.

“Indeed, the timing and duration of the locking action was partly informed based on these data,” said study authors, led by Otago University and ESR virologist Dr Jemma Geoghegan and University of Auckland researcher Dr Jordan Douglas.

“Overall, real-time viral genomics have played an important role in eliminating Covid-19 from New Zealand and since then helping prevent additional regional lockdowns, leading to substantial economic savings.”

However, they say an important tool has been limited by the “biased nature” of global sampling, including the contribution of very little genome sequences from a particular region.

“We therefore recommend that potential sampling biases and gaps in the available genomic data be carefully considered whenever trying to determine the geographic origin of a particular SARS-CoV-2 outbreak,” they said.

“The analysis should consider all available evidence, including that from genomic and epidemiological sources.”


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Coronavirus Covid-19: Could this ‘smart arm’ make borders safer? | Instant News

Scientists have designed a “smart arm” that they say could help reduce the spread of Covid-19 across New Zealand’s borders – and now aim to test it at MIQ facilities. Photo / Provided

Scientists have designed a “smart arm” that they say could help reduce the spread of Covid-19 across New Zealand’s borders – and now aim to test it at MIQ facilities.

The smart wear, created by an Elbaware spin-out from the University of Auckland, aims to tackle an important hygiene issue – touching the face.

“We recognize there have been gaps in public health measures, which the Government has very well publicized, since the start of the pandemic,” said Elbaware founder and surgical scientist Professor John Windsor.

While wearing a mask, washing our hands, keeping our distance and sneezing or coughing up our sleeves are all important steps to stop the spread, Windsor said that touching the face remains a tough problem to solve.

“That’s because it’s almost always an involuntary or accidental act and it happens 15 to 30 times per hour.”

Windsor, an Auckland City Hospital surgeon who also heads the university-based Research Center for Surgery and Translation (STaR), explains that the Sars-CoV-2 virus spreads in two ways.

One of them is inhaling aerosols containing the virus into our lungs; others are heavier droplets that contaminate surfaces and are transferred to the mouth, nose and eyes when we touch them with our hands.

It’s that risk that makes Windsor and her colleagues think of a solution.

“A valuable project needs to fulfill a need and not just be a compelling idea.”

The day before last year’s national lockdown, her team made a prototype of a comfortable, washable “mini sleeve” that is worn on one elbow and under clothing.

Over the next several weeks, they submitted IPs for their inventions, secured funding from donors and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and formed Elbaware company.

Key to the design is a programmable sensor that detects elbow flexion and when the hand approaches the face.

A cashier operator wore one of Elbaware's smart arms in a recent trial.  Photo / Provided
A cashier operator wore one of Elbaware’s smart arms in a recent trial. Photo / Provided

“It uses the well-known haptic feedback principle to provide vibration alerts – such as a smartphone or smartwatch – when the hand approaches the face,” he said.

“It makes you aware that you are about to touch your face. Subconscious action becomes conscious.”

“If you want to reduce the risk of touching your face, then this awareness helps you to stop, and not touch your face.”

Tests conducted with the hospital’s junior doctors and supermarket staff have proven promising, he said, with 80 percent of wearers feeling they were touching their faces less.

“These results have encouraged us and provided us with opportunities to further improve the product,” he said.

“We are at a point where we are now ready to work with targeted groups to ensure that products are optimized for various risky settings.”

Further trials are planned at managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities, emergency departments, and at large medical sales and distribution companies.

“In addition, we are looking for funds to conduct trials among the elderly, in orphanages, and with Maori / Pasifika people in their communities,” he said.

“We are also exploring opportunities for airlines and airports as well as other public transport workers, such as bus drivers.”

As for the design itself, the team is building Bluetooth functionality.

“This is not absolutely necessary, but will add real value by enabling remote anonymous data collection, software updates, push messages, and incentives via graphs to show reduced facial touch.”

He said Elbaware initially concentrated on the New Zealand market, then aimed to enter the Australian market when the travel bubble opens.

“We have started discussions about the Asian market and have identified offshore manufacturing,” he said.

“We will work closely with NZ Trade and Enterprise to open up this market and other markets, such as Europe and the US.

“There is significant potential for developing further envelopes with imaging, messaging and modes, including coordination with reusable masks.”

Ultimately, the team hopes their smart sleeves can be seen as additional personal protective equipment – as well as a way to fight other infectious diseases, or even some recurring behavioral disorder.

“We don’t see it replacing important public health measures, but we do see it as a valuable additional measure,” he said.

“This is important as there are continuing concerns about community transmission, particularly as several countries are entering their fourth wave.

“It is imperative that the Government does, and appears to be doing, all it can to reduce the risk of contracting Covid, especially at MIQ and border facilities.”


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Covid 19 coronavirus: Stuart Nash warns tourist numbers may not fully recover over the next 3-4 years | Instant News

A pontoon, once filled with people, is now submerged. Video / ABC

New Zealand Tourism Minister Stuart Nash has issued a heavy warning to tourism operators, saying it could be “at least another three to four years” before visitor numbers return to pre-coronavirus levels.

Nash made scathing comments during a whistle-stop visit to the struggling seaside resort town of Kaikoura South Island last week.

After announcing another $ 13 million- $ 18 million fund to help shore up the ailing tourist spots in Kaikoura, Mackenzie – Aoraki Mt Cook, Lake Queenstown, Fiordland and South Westland, Nash told the Herald they might face a lengthy battle.

“What the airlines are telling me is at least three to four years before we get the same level of air traffic to New Zealand,” he said.

His comments echo those of recent global experts including the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Qantas also believes its international network is unlikely to fully recover by 2024, even with digital “passport vaccines” being piloted around the world.

These problems have divided the global aviation community. Canadian airline WestJet recently laid off 400 pilots, while United Airlines announced last week it would re-hire about 300 pilots.

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash made the comments during a visit to the struggling Kaikoura last week.  Photo / George Heard
Tourism Minister Stuart Nash made the comments during a visit to the struggling Kaikoura last week. Photo / George Heard

New Zealand’s aviation industry, along with tourism operators, who are waiting to see if a transtasman travel bubble will emerge, hopes Nash’s comments are closer to a “worst case scenario”.

But Justin Tighe-Umbers, executive director of the airline industry group, Airline Representative Council (Barnz), also thinks global passenger numbers are unlikely to fully recover until around 2024-25.

New Zealand’s largest travel agency Aviation Center predicts demand will return to pre-Covid levels in late 2023 or early 2024.

“Outbound travel is a vital part of the tourism ecosystem and without it, Aotearoa will struggle to attract international air capacity, and anything else that brings New Zealand’s strong economy,” said Flight Center managing director David Coombes.

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots Association (NZALPA), however, argues that numbers should return sooner than 2024-25.

“That would be the worst horizon I would suggest, a very conservative horizon,” NZALPA president Andrew Ridling said of Nash’s comments.

The New Zealand Bed & Breakfast Association advises its members to work back to pre-Covid numbers in 2023.

If the 3-4 year timeframe is correct, it will “succeed or fail for some bed and breakfasts”, says association president Donna Brooke.

“We hope some will close and others go into hibernation for a period of time,” he said.

There is some optimism, however, with many B & Bs accepting reservations for the peak period January to March next year from international wholesalers and agents in the UK, Europe and the US.

“We accepted this order with the understanding that they could cancel very well,” said Brooke.

“Our advice to our members is to be flexible and fluid. The challenge in accepting these bookings is that it ‘needs space’ that domestic bookings can properly fill.”

Air New Zealand was unable to respond to the Herald’s approach on Sunday.

A New Zealand tourism business survey last month revealed that 53 percent of operators believe they will have to close within 12 months if the current situation does not improve.

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