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Covid 19 coronavirus: Ministry of Health updated cases on day one of travel ban to India | Instant News

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced from Sunday NZ will temporarily suspend travel from India to combat a surge in infected tourists. Video / NZ Herald

There are three new cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation and none in the community, the Health Ministry announced today.

No new community cases have been detected since Tuesday’s announcement that an MIQ security guard at the Grand Millennium Hotel in Auckland has tested positive.

Fifteen close contacts of the Covid-infected MIQ workers, who have not been vaccinated, have now been tested for the virus and isolated. Thirteen have tested negative so far.

New locations of interest have now been identified in relation to MIQ workers. This is Bikanervala Bakery on White Swan Rd in Mt Roskill.

The preferred time is between 1.30 and 14.30 on April 7. Anyone in the bakery at that time was considered a casual contact and advised to monitor symptoms.

If you are not feeling well you should call Healthline, get tested and self-isolate.

Fifteen close contacts of the Covid-infected Grand Millennium workers are in isolation.  Photo / William Terite
Fifteen close contacts of the Covid-infected Grand Millennium workers are in isolation. Photo / William Terite

The Balmoral community testing center is open until 5pm today, or people can visit general practice after hours or emergency care clinics across Auckland for today’s exams.

Further locations of interest are expected and will be announced when confirmed, the ministry said.

Two of the three new positive cases in managed isolation in Auckland arrived from India between April 5 and 9, and tested positive within three days.

A third case arrived from Papua New Guinea on April 8 and tested positive on the first day of managed isolation.

The total number of active cases across the country is now 108.

The seven-day mean turnover of new border-related cases was 9.

The ministry has confirmed a crew member of the ship in Taranaki under investigation has a historical infection that has been reported overseas. The person has returned a negative test result.

More than 4300 Covid-19 tests were processed yesterday.

A two-week ban on traveling to India

Today’s update comes in two weeks India’s travel suspension starts today.

There were 10 new border-related cases yesterday and all of them are in MIQ. Eight of those infected traveled from India via the United Arab Emirates. The remaining two are from the UAE via Malaysia and Canada via the United States.

The latest border cases are people traveling from India, prompting the Government to ban arrivals from the country until at least April 28.

Two of the positive cases from India yesterday tested positive around day 0, four around day 3, one (contact case) on day 7, and the other on day 8 after showing symptoms.

The Human Rights Commission has demanded the Government justify its ban on flights from India.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt said more information was needed about why behind the travel suspension.

This is the first time New Zealand has stopped citizens or residents from returning.

“While a public health emergency is a justification for restricting the free movement of people, any restriction on the right of New Zealanders to return home must be clearly justified by the Government in accordance with domestic and international human rights obligations,” Hunt said.

The commission cannot judge whether the ban is valid, unless the Government is transparent about its decisions, he said.

New Zealand has agreed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that no one may be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter their own country.


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Covid 19 coronavirus: No new cases in community, one in managed isolation | Instant News

Covid-19 test in Otara earlier this month. Photo / Dean Purcell

There are no new cases of Covid-19 in society at this time, but one has been isolated.

The person flew to New Zealand from the United Arab Emirates and was picked up on the 3rd day of the test.

This means that the total number of active Covid-19 cases in New Zealand is 87.There are no active cases in the community.

Meanwhile, officials revealed that 4,500 Covid-19 tests were processed yesterday. The total number of tests processed by the laboratory to date is 1,818,986.

And there have been more than 1.3 million scans recorded via the COVID Tracer app in the last 24 hours.

“It is great to see continued good use of the NZ COVID Tracer app and it is very important for Kiwi to continue to do so,” a health official said in a statement.

“Please scan the QR code wherever you go and enable Bluetooth tracking in the app dashboard if you haven’t already.”

Since January 1, there have been 39 historical cases, out of a total of 256 cases.

It’s now been a month since the Valentine’s Day cluster was discovered.

Fifteen people in this cluster have Covid-19 and Auckland has to be isolated twice as a result of a spreading community case.

All 15 people have now recovered.

On Friday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took the Auckland exits alert level 2 – puts the city at level 1 with other countries.

This came as welcome, but not surprising, news to Aucklanders.

Even though the city was locked for seven days, then at level 2 for the next seven days, not a single community case was found.

This is despite a test explosion in Auckland, where tens of thousands of people were tested for the virus.

Ardern and Auckland Mayor Phil Goff thanked the citizens of Auckland for their sacrifices over the two week period.

They also asked all New Zealand to continue to be vigilant so that the virus does not re-enter the community.

How Covid-19 entered the community is still a mystery.

Officials have a number of theories but are unable to pinpoint how the first case occurred on February 14.

This, however, is not uncommon.

The origins of last year’s August cluster were never found and health director general Ashley Bloomfield recently said it was “very possible” that the origins of the Valentine’s Day cluster will forever be a mystery.

Currently, the Government’s focus is on the Covid-19 vaccine.

Most of New Zealand’s health and frontier workers have now been vaccinated. Their close contacts are now getting injections.

A broader vaccination campaign for New Zealand will start in the middle of the year.

Meanwhile, New Zealanders from abroad continue to return to the country.

People with Covid-19 are usually caught early, due to the 0/1 day testing rule.

There were three new cases caught in the MIQ yesterday – one from Brazil and two from India.

The total number of active Covid-19 cases in New Zealand – all in managed isolation – is 88.

Since the start of the pandemic a year ago, New Zealand has had 2,066 cases of Covid-19.

As a per capita measure, New Zealand has one of the lowest Covid-19 rates in the world.

Despite this, officials continue to ask people to follow health advice, even at level 1.

“Stay home if [you’re] unwell and get advice about testing, washing hands, coughing and sneezing into elbows and wearing a mask or face covering on all public transport.

“Monitor anywhere you’ve ever been – scan QR codes wherever you go and enable Bluetooth tracking in the app dashboard.”


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Covid 19 coronavirus: National wants MIQ to be moved outside of downtown Auckland | Instant News

Rydges Hotel is one of the Auckland CBD hotels that is used as a Covid-19 MIQ facility. Photo / Dean Purcell

National is calling on the Government to move the Covid-19 quarantine and manage isolation facilities from downtown Auckland as a way to protect New Zealand’s largest city from a future lockdown.

Chris Bishop, party spokesman for the Covid-19 response, said this could be in the form of a purpose-built facility on the outskirts of Auckland.

There are currently 5,583 people in managed isolation facilities and 76 in quarantine, many of which are housed in facilities within Auckland’s CBD.

The downtown hotels currently used for MIQ are Pullman, Stamford Plaza, Rydges, M Social, and Grand Millennium.

National Party spokesman for the Covid-19 response, Chris Bishop.  Photo / NZME
National Party spokesman for the Covid-19 response, Chris Bishop. Photo / NZME

“The recent Pullman hotel case shows how much risk Auckland is from another community outbreak due to ingrained problems with MIQ,” Bishop said.

“New Zealand can’t afford to let yo-yoing in and out of lockdown and the Auckland economy can’t afford to continue bleeding more than $ 30 million a day.”

Bishop said the Victorian government is currently planning a cabin-style hub outside Melbourne’s CBD to replace its MIQ hotel following a recent outbreak that led to a lockdown.

“This facility will likely be a village with a pre-built one-story building with a separate ventilation system for each room. The returnees share the facilities but do not have the same roof,” he said.

The Pullman Hotel is one of the hotels in the city center that is used as a Covid-19 MIQ facility related to the recent Covid community outbreak.  Photo / Dean Purcell.
The Pullman Hotel is one of the hotels in the city center that is used as a Covid-19 MIQ facility related to the recent Covid community outbreak. Photo / Dean Purcell.

“Having plenty of fresh air reduces the risk of airborne transmission among returnees, while an isolated location makes it harder for the virus to find its way to densely populated urban areas where it can spread more quickly.”

National believes a similar facility should be built on vacant lots near Auckland Airport, Bishop said and called for an investigation to begin immediately.

These costs can be covered by contributions from the Government, the private sector and payments made by returning New Zealand residents.

“A purpose-built facility may prove expensive but the costs will be reduced due to the economic impact which makes Auckland more locked up,” Bishop said.

“The government must act now to address the problem before the Covid-19 outbreak forces another lockdown. We have more than enough wake-up calls.”

University of Otago Public Health professors Nick Wilson and Michael Baker have called for the closure of the MIQ facility in Auckland “to protect major economic centers” and eliminate the use of shared space at the facility.

“It is clear that New Zealand will need MIQ facilities for some time to come with mass vaccination not possible until the end of the year,” Bishop said.

“We have done well to prevent Covid-19 from spreading, but it will come at a price. Maintaining this effort will require innovative thinking, especially as the virus mutates.

Bishop said if done right, the new facility could be turned into housing once it has served its original purpose.


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Covid 19 coronavirus: COVID-19 patients died in hospital, two new cases in managed isolation | Instant News

The Health Ministry has revealed that a person who previously tested positive for Covid-19 had died after being hospitalized for treatment for a “serious condition not related to Covid-19”.

There are two new cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation and there are no new cases in society at this time.

The ministry said in its daily 1pm update that it was “deeply saddened to confirm” the death of a patient with Covid-19 at North Shore Hospital.

The statement added: “The patient was transferred from a Managed Isolation Facility to hospital-level care for the treatment of serious conditions unrelated to Covid-19 on February 5.

“This person then returned a positive COVID-19 result after entering. This positive result has been reported before.

“Patients talk to families every day, either by zoom or telephone.”

Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said: “On behalf of New Zealanders, I want to acknowledge the loss of this family.

“This is a time for all of us to give deep sympathy, while respecting the privacy of our family.”

Meanwhile, the Ministry said the new confirmed cases were linked to a person who traveled from India, via the United Arab Emirates, on February 9.

The number of confirmed cases in the country is 1972. The total number of tests processed by the laboratory to date is 1,583,469.

As of Friday, the lab processed 4,683 tests.

Of Friday’s cases in managed isolation cases, one arrived on January 26 from the UK and traveled via Singapore. They tested positive around day 16.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern revealed that New Zealand’s frontline border workers will start receiving the first Covid-19 vaccinations from next Saturday.

Starting February 20, border workers and MIQ in Auckland will be offered the Pfizer / BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.

Speaking to media in Auckland this morning, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it would take about two to three weeks for 12,000 frontline workers to receive the injections.

After the launch is complete, their family members will be offered vaccinations.

“Health and care workers and those most at risk of Covid-19 will follow in the second quarter, before vaccination of the wider population in the second half of this year,” Ardern said.

He added that the full vaccination program would take a whole year to roll out as a whole.

“This will be New Zealand’s largest vaccination campaign.”

Today is the first time the Government has set any timetable for vaccine launches.

The only new Covid case yesterday arrived on February 8 from the US. Infections were retrieved as a result of day 0 testing.

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Covid 19 coronavirus: Seafarers say an overloaded MIQ system is treating them unfairly | Instant News

Seafarers find they are caught in trouble when they have to reserve space in a managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facility and want a change.

They are subject to a Managed Isolation Allocation System like most people crossing the New Zealand border. Currently booked through June.

But Nathan Schumacher and Geiri Petursson say seafarers’ jobs, where they often have poor internet access, and overloaded systems mean it’s almost “impossible” to book a place.

The pair want an allocation set in managed isolation for seafarers and feel like no one is advocating for them.

“That’s the only way,” said Petursson.

They also pointed out that New Zealand has signed an International Maritime Organization (IMO) protocol, which defines seafarers as essential workers.

However, this is not reflected in Government policy and seafarers are treated like everyone else. Meanwhile airline crew are excluded for the same reason.

Petursson, who was on a ship off the coast of Argentina, said gaining space was “impossible” because the system was not designed for people working in their positions.

Petursson left New Zealand on November 19 last year, and said he would normally work two months before returning home for the same length of time.

Instead, she has struck a deal with her employer to work for about six and a half months because of the pandemic. He works 12 hours per day, seven days a week.

“It’s testing to do that for six months.”

He has a visa to enter Argentina when his work ends, where he has to wait until he finds a place in managed isolation.

Petursson’s wife and child are in New Zealand and he thinks they want to see him in less than seven months.

“We are often on a very, very bad internet connection … we can’t see how we can get the vouchers,” he said.

Petursson said also having an Argentine visa put him in a privileged position, but was concerned about New Zealanders who could land, and was only granted a 24-hour transit visa before being expected to fly home.

He has a colleague who arrived in Myanmar at the weekend, where the coup started last week.

“The situation is quite scary,” he said. “Four days ago… he was still being told [by the Government] the situation does not meet the exclusion criteria of the voucher system.

“I don’t know what has to happen to meet those criteria.”

Schumacher’s situation was different. Offshore geotechnical engineers are still in New Zealand and completely skipping work as Australia recently suspended quarantine-free travel from New Zealand.

“It was a blessing in disguise for me because I would be in the same situation,” said Schumacher.

But if another job comes up soon, he will most likely leave: “Because I have to pay the mortgage.”

Schumacher says he speaks for people abroad. He’s set up an email account for stranded sailors to contact him, and in the past 24 hours some 50 Kiwis working overseas have found out about their struggles to reserve MIQ places.

“It shouldn’t be part of their job that they know that if they are gone for two months, it will actually be six to eight months before they go home.”

Schumacher said New Zealand could also violate the Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) 2006, which allows the unhindered return of seafarers to their country of residence.

MBIE, which keeps the isolation under control, and the Maritime Union of New Zealand were contacted for comment.

– Michael Neilson’s additional reporting


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