Covid 19 Delta outbreak: PM Jacinda Ardern and Dr Ashley Bloomfield give latest on outbreak, vaccine rates

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield will provide the latest on the current Covid-19 outbreak and vaccine rates at 1pm.

It comes as buses have started operating from this morning to boost vaccinations in harder-to-reach parts of the Auckland community.

Experts warn the only way for New Zealand to avoid lockdowns is to have at least 90 per cent of the eligible population vaccinated.

The converted black and orange Park & Ride buses have vaccinate signs posted on their sides. One reads “Roll up your sleeves, Auckland”, and another “Vaccinate for Auckland”.

Ardern this week asked for names for the service and narrowed it down to four favourites – Jabba Waka, Shot Bro, Jabbin’ Wagon, Vaxi Taxi. In the end “Shot Bro” was the most popular.

On Wednesday 14 new cases of Covid-19 were announced in the community.

All the new cases are linked to existing cases but three people were infectious while in the community, creating 10 new exposure events.

There was an increase in testing Tuesday in Auckland, with 10,341 new tests completed.

Labour MP Willie Jackson said the answer to boosting vaccination among Māori and Pasifika people was to enlist the help of people from within those communities.

“Our people know our people.”

Jackson said he was pleased to see the support at community level for vaccines.

“I’m really excited because we need to get out into these communities in South Auckland,” he said.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said: “We are taking the vaccine to the people.”

The aim was to get up to 80 per cent of Aucklanders having had one shot of the vaccine by the end of the week.

While the current lockdown was the right decision, the country could not rely on lockdowns forever.

The six buses – on loan to the Northern Region Health Coordination Centre – will act like pop-up vaccination clinics. Pukekohe is one of the first areas a bus will visit this afternoon.

Covid-19 modeller Professor Michael Plank told Newstalk ZB this morning his modelling showed that reopening New Zealand with 70-80 per cent vaccination would still leave the country vulnerable.

As of yesterday, 38 per cent of New Zealand’s eligible population were fully vaccinated and 70 per cent had received at least one dose.

“It will be difficult to avoid large scale health impacts – that could include tens of thousands of hospitalisations and potentially thousands of deaths.

“So we really need to try and get that vaccination coverage into the 90s,” which would make the situation more manageable, he said.

Plank believed it was possible to vaccinate 90 per cent of the eligible population.

“That’s the way to reduce the health impacts that will come when we open up our borders and we inevitably do start to get outbreaks of Covid-19.”

The United Kingdom had reasonably high vaccine coverage, he said. “But they also still have a lot of people dying.” Most deaths were in older people “but not exclusively so”, he said. An “enormous” number of people in Britain were in hospital including a number of younger people.

But epidemiologist Rod Jackson thought the number needed to even be higher to avoid lockdowns.

Jackson said 95 per cent of over 12-year-olds needed to be vaccinated as that still left 700,000 children under 12 and 250,000 people unvaccinated.

Over the next few months there needed to be a focus on moving the vaccine hesitant people to being vaccinated, rather than on the small number of anti-vaxxers who he didn’t think should be given any oxygen, he said.

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