Covid 19 Delta outbreak: 24 cases today, Government unveils vaccine certificate plan

There are 24 new cases of Covid-19 in the community today as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reveals vaccine passes or certificates will be used in New Zealand from as early as next month.

They will be used to lessen the risk in high-risk settings like in hospitality and large gatherings, Ardern said. They will be required at events like music festivals, Ardern said.

“If you are booked for a summer festival … this a warning or a heads-up, go and get vaccinated.”

However, they won’t impact people’s ability to go to essential services. They will not be used for public housing. The passes or certificates will be a physical document and something you can have on your phone

It will likely be able to be used in November, Ardern said.

“It’s one of the best ways we can ensure summer plans can go ahead uninterrupted.”

To enjoy the things you love, you need to be vaccinated this month, not in December.”

Ardern encouraged people to bring their vaccination forward as soon as possible.

Ardern said there could be circumstances where certificates weren’t mandated by the Government but were mandated by event organisers for example.

Consultation was being done with the hospitality industry to see how certificates would work in their sector.

She wouldn’t address whether it would be mandated for gyms as final decisions on this hadn’t been made.

Ardern said social gatherings and church events weren’t often mandated for vaccine certificates but those conversations were ongoing.

However, she acknowledged she was very cautious about mandating it in too many areas.

Ardern indicated the point at which someone was fully immunised was 14 days after their second dose.

Ardern confirmed there would be provisions for the people who couldn’t be vaccinated under the very limited circumstances in place.

She said vaccine passes were not practical going into a corner dairy for example which indicated at what level they would and wouldn’t be used.

If there was a form of covid that does not respond to vaccine protection, Ardern said life would revert back to alert level framework.

Ardern said booster shots would be able to be incorporated into the vaccine certificate tech proposed today.

7 cases unlinked today

Eighteen of today’s new cases are in Auckland, six are in Waikato. Three of the latter were made public yesterday, director of public health Dr Caroline McElnay says,

Seven of today’s cases are unlinked and eight of yesterday’s cases are unlinked. All Waikato cases are linked.

It is estimated there would be an additional 48 cases in the coming days because of the number of contacts to already confirmed cases.

Waikato DHB has not identified any locations of interest of significance in Hamilton City.

However, McElnay said there may be locations uncovered as investigations continue.

The DHB has indicated that the households involved in positive cases were following mask-wearing and social distancing prior to knowing they were Covid positive

McElnay said Covid was becoming a “disease of the unvaccinated” across the globe.

Ardern yesterday revealed an Auckland road map that effectively showed how the city would come out of a strict alert level 3 as we know it, starting with slightly relaxed restrictions from this evening.

Ardern acknowledged many people were hoping to see Auckland move to level 2.

Ardern said step 1 measures, to come into force tonight, were the safest which could be applied. However, she said Auckland would have some of toughest restrictions of anywhere in the world.

She described the vaccine as a “ticket to freedom” and could see how it was protecting people against Covid.

She referenced an unvaccinated person who caught Covid but did not spread it to their vaccinated household members.

“The evidence is clear, the vaccine works.”

New suburb of interest in Auckland

Red Beach has been added to the Auckland suburbs of interest, along with Papakura, Henderson, Clover Park, Mangere, Favona, Manurewa, Mt Wellington and Sylvia Park.

A pop-up community testing centre in Orewa at Victor Eaves Park, Enter via West Hoe Road will be open today from 2pm to 6pm and tomorrow from 8.30am to 5pm.

Among yesterday’s 29 community cases, 17 have exposure events while 12 were in isolation during their infectious period.

There are 18 cases from the past fortnight that are yet to be linked, including seven from today.

There are 32 people in hospital – 31 across Auckland hospitals and one in Waikato Hospital. Seven people are in ICU or the high-dependency unit.

How vaccine passes will work

Access to Covid vaccination records will be made accessible soon, as well as testing records, said Shayne Hunter the Deputy Director-General Data and Digital at the Ministry of Health.

In order to access this info, a person will need a MyHealth account or a RealMe account.

Once logged in to the system, it will retrieve your data on vaccination.

You will be able to view the detail behind it.

Links are provided to access a travel certificate and there is also a way to correct any errors in the data.

One of the other features is to get the NHI number in a scannable form which would speed up the testing process.

Hunter pointed to a picture which showed how the certificate can be used in a physical paper form and on a mobile device.

Asked why it wasn’t incorporated into the current Covid tracer app, Hunter said privacy aspects did not allow it to be incorporated. However, he said people would be directed to their certificate from the tracer app via a link.

It would be a mobile site to start with and then, in January, it may move to an app.

Hunter said it was important to have the physical option for those who don’t have access to a smartphone.

Ardern said they were looking for very easily accessible ways for people who don’t have those technological resources to get their certificates.

Hunter said work had been done with the Privacy Commissioner and the tech had been thoroughly tested.

Every step had been taken to make sure the system was secure, he said.

Asked about what controls would be on event organisers on monitoring vaccine data, Hunter said that was being worked through. He would expect privacy would feature very highly in that. Ardern suggested there would be an opportunity to crosscheck ticket information and identity so it doesn’t lead to congestion.

Asked how to safeguard against sharing vaccination certificates, Hunter said a verifier app to scan the QR code to check if it’s valid.

But more work was being done to establish how vaccination could be checked against identity.

However, Ardern noted these things were being used overseas so they would be able to learn from what’s happened in other countries.

Ardern said the vast bulk of feedback from organisers was positive, they had welcomed the certificate tool.

The definition of a mass event was unclear but large-scale concerts were considered under this title.

She said education was being considered as separate to what was being discussed today about large-scale events.

It would also not be used for public housing.

Ardern said a final decision hadn’t been made whether people would need to be fully vaccinated or fully immunised to go to a festival or concert this summer.

Ardern said simplicity was key in this endeavour.

Hunter said the certificate would only show the bare minimum of information needed to confirm a person’s vaccination.

Asked whether vaccination would be made compulsory for teachers, Ardern said it was currently being explored but she was conscious about how masks and testing could be used in conjunction with vaccination.

Most important was the group of children who weren’t able to be vaccinated and it was a priority to keep them as safe as possible.

Asked whether there is a reluctance to share data with health providers to address low vaccination rates in certain populations, McElnay was not aware of any reluctance.

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said this morning that mandating vaccinations was doubtful, but vaccine certificates were likely to be introduced in the near future with more details announced today.

The first phase of Auckland’s road map will come into effect just before midnight tonight and will allow up to 10 people from a maximum of two households to come together in an outdoor setting. They must not move their gathering inside.

Also today, a liquor store in Raglan has been named as a location of interest.

The Ministry of Health has revealed more exposure events and locations of interest linked to people with Covid-19.

The Raglan Liquor in Bow St is a location of interest.

A total of four people are infected in Raglan, with the first case revealed on Sunday. Three more household contacts were confirmed yesterday.

The Raglan Liquor store was visited three days ago on Saturday between 5.40pm and 5.45pm.

Early childcare centres will also be allowed to open up again, but with children split into bubbles of 10. Parents must wear masks when dropping off and picking up their youngsters and teachers must get a Covid test.

People can once again move around the city and recreational activities including going to the beach, hunting and fishing in a boat are once again allowed. Again, however, people must stay outside in groups of no more than 10 people from two households.

The 10-people limit for funerals, tangihanga, weddings and civil union ceremonies remains in place.

There have been mixed reactions to the announcement from health experts, people from various sectors of society and ordinary members of the public – with some saying the move will be detrimental and lead to a surge in community cases and hospitalisations.

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