Bloomfield hints South Auckland vaccinations could get priority

By Te Ao - Māori News

Health director-general Dr Ashley Bloomfield appears to have conceded there is merit in vaccinating South Auckland first when the general rollout begins in the second half of the year.

He told a press conference this afternoon that many border workers lived in South Auckland and the two border outbreaks had both occurred there.

The workers and their families had been vaccinated which gave a level of protection.

Bloomfield said the ministry had already been thinking about South Auckland when calls to prioritise the people in the area were made over the past week. “I have asked the team to start thinking about when we start that wider rollout that we go to wider South Auckland community.”

Who's next?

Meanwhile, National is calling on the government to provide more detail on the schedule for vaccinating the entire population so New Zealanders – particularly businesses – have the clarity they need to plan for the post-Covid future, leader Judith Collins said.

 “It is great that border workers are being vaccinated but the rest of New Zealand is increasingly asking, ‘who’s next’, and the government doesn’t seem to have any answers.

“Unlike other countries, New Zealand still has not published a detailed list of how the population will be prioritised for vaccines and when each group will be getting them.

“This is in stark contrast with Australia, which has a website where people can type in their location, age and occupation to find out when they will be getting vaccinated.

 “Australia has declared that everyone who wants a vaccine will have been offered one by October. There is no such target date in New Zealand.

Six cases in hotels

Today there was no new community cases of Covid-19 and six cases in managed isolation hotels. Two of the six had been taken to hospital and both were stable, one with Covid-19 and the other case uncertain.

Yesterday there were 14671 tests of which 7853 were in Auckland. The seen-day rolling average was 9271. Dr Bloomfield said 11 community testing centres were open in Auckland today as well as a popup on a marae.

Of the Hunters Plaza contacts 156 people had negative tests and 26 were still to come. Of the MIT casual plus group two were negative and 41 were being followed up. Of the 1082 KFC contacts, 43 had not been tested and were being contacted.

“If they can’t come for a test, we can send a mobile testing station to them,” Bloomfield said.

Three refusals

One person had declined to be tested and was being managed with an isolation plan.

Two students at Papatoetoe High School had also refused to be tested and also had a managed isolation plan. One student has not yet been found and eight were visited yesterday and asked to have tests.

All wastewater tests had come back negative.

Bloomfield also revealed  the ministry had been testing saliva swabs with several companies and would be using them for border workers as a complementary testing method.

He noted that two thirds of border workers had now been vaccinated.

Asked about reports that Apostle Brian Tamaki and his wife Hannah Tamaki had left Auckland just before the lockdown and had travelled as far south as Te Anau, Bloomfield observed: “He does get around the place, doesn’t he.”

Take the vaccine

He said the request had been clear to the Tamakis or anyone else not to have large gatherings anywhere in the country.

Told Hannah Tamaki had said on social media she would not accept a vaccination, the director-general said there were people who had stated their intention not to have it but there were others like himself who had publically declared their intention to have the vaccine when it was available. “We have a powerful narrative there and I expect many New Zealanders to take the vaccine.”

  • Associate Minister Māori Health Peeni Henare and Health director-general Dr Ashley Bloomfield will be commenting on how the Covid-19 virus is affecting Māori in a special broadcast at 6.30pm on Facebook. It can be found here