Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says he hopes to reveal more details this afternoon of the Covid case who died in their Māngere home while self-isolating.
The person was found deceased by a family member visiting them at a Manukau address and the incident was announced by the Ministry of Health at 8pm yesterday.
The cause of death was unknown and “may have been Covid-19 or some other cause”.
Bloomfield told Breakfast the death was “tragic news”.
Speaking generally, he said those isolating at home had daily contact with officials – that included a daily email or a phone call.
There was also “face to face” contact for some, if they required it.
Bloomfield told The AM Show this morning that he hoped to give more details on the incident at 1pm today.
The Ministry of Health is due to provide a 1pm statement on a variety of Covid-related news, including case numbers.
The death has been referred to the Coroner.
In terms of people isolating at home who might be breaking the rules, he said there was a thorough assessment done for every positive case and whether they could isolate safely at home for both them and the community.
Those who couldn’t – including those living with vulnerable people or in a large household – were taken into a facility.
Bloomfield denied Covid was spreading like wildfire and said in a city of its size, it had a “much much smaller and more controlled outbreak” compared to places like Melbourne or Sydney.
Speaking on the Auckland border being in place at Christmas, he said no one wanted it there and the way not to have it was to get higher vaccination rates right across the country.
The Government had not sought specific advice from the Ministry of Health about people leaving the border at Christmas, he said.
There were a range of ways it could be done – including a booking system to cross the border – but no decisions had been made and there was plenty of water to flow under the bridge.
“Christmas is still more than six weeks away and our aim is of course that there isn’t a boundary in place at Christmas,” Bloomfield said.
Cabinet will review the situation at the end of November and by then the situation would be different.
Bloomfield said the ministry’s advice had been to stick with the current levels “for a little while longer”.
But he said the ministry was comfortable with the pending relaxation of the rules for Auckland next week.
Bloomfield told Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB that of the newly approved 4.7 million new Pfizer jabs, the “vast majority” will be available for booster shots, but also for people who become eligible next year and others who have yet to have the jab.
Discussions on the topic have occurred “almost daily” and they had already started the planning for the rollout of the 5 to 11 age group.
The plan now was working with Pfizer on the delivery of the new chunk of doses which will arrive “right through next year”.
He said there was plenty of doses still available until they arrived – around three million – which would be used to begin the booster phase “well this side of Christmas, and I would imagine before the end of November”.
Asked if there had been a problem, Bloomfield said it was a matter of following “proper process” around booster shots.
“We have advice from our technical advisory group and that’s being finalised today and then we get a decision from ministers and then we’re good to go.”
Bloomfield said the trials they had done showed the best median time for booster shots was around 11 months, however they would probably issue them from as soon as six months and up to 12 months.
As for getting in supplies of Novavax, Bloomfield said there had been discussion around it but it was yet to be approved “anywhere in the world at the moment”.
When put to him Indonesia was using it, Bloomfield said “that may be so, but from my understanding of their studies they still haven’t quite finished their studies”.
However, Pfizer was being used by hundreds of millions of people around the world and was a “very efficient vaccine” and the only studies that have looked at boosters are using the Pfizer vaccine, he said, “so that’s the direction we’ll go”.
Asked if Novavax would partially cure the “anti-vax problem in New Zealand”, Bloomfield said he wasn’t sure.
“Some people really do have a worry about an MRNA vaccine and they would like an alternative. We have already approved two alternatives, Johnson and Johnson and AstraZeneca.”
A third was also being considered.
However, it wasn’t Novavax as that was a “long way down the track”.
A final decision would be made in the next few weeks.
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