Omicron in NZ, covid-19 vaccine milestones and mandate protest

Covid-19 news day in NZ 16-12-21
Covid-19 news day in NZ: Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield (clockwise from top left), an anti-vaxxer protest to Parliament and hitting the 90 percent vaccinated target. Image: RNZ

RNZ News

New Zealand’s first case of omicron has been identified, as the country hit its 90 percent full vaccination target today, children between five and 11 will be able to get the vaccine, and protesters marched on Parliament demanding an end to vaccine mandates and restrictions.

Here is how the day unfolded:

The first case of omicron was detected in New Zealand.

A person who was double-vaccinated tested positive for the virus on Sunday after arriving in the country from Germany in Auckland via Dubai.

They have now been moved to the quarantine facility at the Sudima Hotel in Christchurch.

The person will spend a full 14 days in quarantine — and all those on the same flights and hotel floor will have to remain in their hotel for 10 days.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield is not ruling out using localised lockdowns if the omicron variant slips into the community.

University of Otago epidemiologist Michael Baker said even one case of omicron in the community should be enough to prompt a localised lockdown.

Vaccination milestone
The country has hit its 90 percent full vaccination target against covid-19.

The official count came through overnight, meaning nearly 3.8 million people have had two vaccine doses.

Seven of the country’s 20 district health boards (DHBs) have reached the 90 percent mark for second doses, including all three in Auckland.

And 94 percent of the eligible population nationwide have had their first dose.

Meanwhile, Medsafe has granted provisional approval for the Pfizer covid-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 years old.

Cabinet will now consider advice from officials and the Health Ministry before deciding when and how to roll out the vaccine across the country.

If approved, the programme is expected to start next month.

The two-dose vaccine is an adapted version of the adult version.

The ministry said work was well underway to ensure a safe and efficient rollout.

Protesting vaccine mandates and restrictions
About 3000 people marched from Civic Square to Parliament today to demand an end to the covid-19 vaccination mandates and traffic light restrictions.

The protest — organised by Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki’s Freedom and Rights Coalition — took place the day after Parliament rose for the year.

Police had to close off Willis Street and part of Lambton Quay.

Metlink services which led to the Lambton Quay Interchange were diverted while the protest was underway.

Protesters held a banner reading “Labour Must Go”.

Parliamentary Security fenced off the forecourt to prevent any protesters entering the Parliament building, and staff were warned to stay away from the windows.

About 50 police officers stood on the forecourt.

The numbers

  • There were 91 new cases of covid-19 in the community today.
  • Two are in Northland, seven are in Waikato/King Country, 10 in Bay of Plenty, one in Rotorua, 16 in Taranaki and the remaining cases in Auckland.
  • The new cases in Northland are in Ruakākā.
  • In Taranaki, the new cases are in Eltham, but all but one of them were reported yesterday.
  • Fifty eight people are in hospital, with four in either ICU or a high dependency unit.
  • A wastewater sample collected from Gisborne on Tuesday detected the virus.
  • This is the sixth positive wastewater result for Tairāwhiti in recent weeks, indicating there may be unknown cases in the community.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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