Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Alert levels 3 and 4 for NZ, PM on Pfizer vaccine rollout

Two weeks after going into lockdown Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will outline at 1pm how the country will operate in split alert levels from midnight.

It comes as the Government today delivered mixed messages about its vaccine stocks.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told Newstalk ZB they were about to “ink a deal”, however Ardern dubbed those reports “speculative” when talking to RNZ today.

Ardern is set to lead a press conference at 1pm today to announce details on how the country will operate under split alert level settings.

Auckland will remain in level 4 for two more weeks, while the rest of the country south of Auckland will move to Level 3 at midnight today.

All going well with testing, Ardern said yesterday Northland would move to level 3 at 11.59pm Thursday.

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There are currently 562 people with Covid-19 in the current outbreak with 547 people who have tested positive in Auckland and 15 in Wellington.

There were 53 new cases of Covid-19 yesterday, well down on the ever-growing spike which on Sunday hit 83.

Hipkins told Newstalk ZB it was still too early to say whether yesterday’s lower case numbers was a trend, but he would be keeping his fingers crossed.

He wanted to see the numbers drop and stay low but it was still too early to say if that would happen.

Hipkins confirmed Government officials were having “active conversations” about bringing in more vaccine to the country and those details would be shared “once they were signed on the dotted line”.

He said they had always been pushing hard to get vaccine into the country earlier but their order would total 10.1 million doses by the end of October so if each Kiwi had two doses each they would still have some left.

He was hopeful of being able to tell Kiwis about more vaccines coming to New Zealand in the next couple of days.

However, Ardern was a bit more tightlipped when questioned on RNZ.

Asked about reports that the Government was close to a vaccine deal with another country, Ardern dubbed that “speculative”.

“We are working hard to increase supply,” she said, declining to get into specifics on exactly how.

She wouldn’t be drawn on if that was a deal with Pfizer or another country.

“It is not the case that we are going to run out,” Ardern said.

If more vaccines couldn’t be obtained, then the country would revert to its original plan of delivering 350,000 jabs a week.

Meanwhile, Ardern told Breakfast Public Health officials “absolutely believe” that the Covid situation in Wellington was now contained.

Despite confirming the country wouldn’t run out of vaccine, Ardern said health officials were trying to figure out whether they can meet the current high demand.

She said the worst case scenario would be for vaccinations to go back to the roll-out plan made before the current lockdown.

Asked by Hosking on Newstalk ZB about why South Islanders should still be getting the vaccine when the outbreak was centred in Auckland, Hipkins said they didn’t want any vaccination appointments to be cancelled anywhere.

“Situations can change very rapidly and we want as many Kiwis vaccinated as possible.”

Yesterday, the Ministry of Health announced the death of a woman, aged in her 50s, attributed to a rare side effect of the Pfizer Covid vaccine.

She died of myocarditis, although health officials note that other medical issues “may have influenced the outcome”.

Parliament would also have its first sitting today – virtually.

Ardern told RNZ it wasn’t appropriate for MPs to meet in person.

Given the business committee was unable to meet a consensus on Parliament meeting, an option was put forward for all ministers to be available online.

That was rejected by both National and Act, Ardern said, but she didn’t want to suspend Parliament again and had been left with “little choice”.

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