Covid 19 coronavirus: Two Mattina mariners taken to hospital, group 4 vaccine invites from next week

There are nine positive Covid-19 cases on a container ship in Bluff, two of whom have been taken to Southland Hospital’s emergency department.

Director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said two crew members from the Mattina container ship were transferred to hospital this morning because of their symptoms.

All infection prevention and control measures were in place, including the appropriate use of PPE.

Officials are today assessing whether the rest of the crew will remain aboard the ship throughout their quarantine period and results from additional testing are expected tomorrow.

More information on the source of the crew’s infections will be available when whole genome sequencing is completed in the next few days.

There are no new cases in the community or in MIQ today.

NSW, Victoria travel pauses to continue into next week

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the existing travel pauses with NSW, South Australia and Victoria would continue into next week.

The quarantine-free travel pause would be reviewed again on July 27.

Of the 38 Kiwis who were in locations of interest in Australian states Victoria and Queensland, 36 have tested negative and the remaining two are waiting on test results.

As of midnight more than 1,553,000 vaccine doses had been administered. More than 628,000 people had received their second dose and were fully vaccinated.

A daily high of more than 33,000 doses had been reached.

Overall the country was tracking 5 per cent ahead of plan, on track to pass two million doses in early August.

Group 4 vaccine notifications begin from July 28

People in group 4 will receive notification from July 28 about being able to make a vaccine booking. From the end of July the vaccination programme would really start ramping up, Hipkins said.

The Book My Vaccine system will be up and running, there will be an 0800 booking number too, Hipkins said.

This week’s goal was to reach 200,000 doses, ramping up to 250,000 to 300,000 in the following weeks.

This would be building up to the goal of 50,000 daily doses, some days reaching 70,000, at the peak.

A daily snapshot of vaccination statistics would be released through August, and a weekly deep dive.

Hipkins said he believed the vaccine rollout would push past the 60 per cent plateau seen overseas. This was due to the targeted vaccination rollout.

Despite currently having supplies to vaccinate 50,000 people a day as per the plan, Hipkins said the rollout needed to build up “sustainably” to that target.

He expected to reach that target by the end of August – six weeks away.

The rollout could not immediately ramp up as more sites needed to come on board and back-up stocks needed to be rebuilt again, so there would be no pause even if there were any delays in deliveries.

Pandemic 'still raging' abroad

On developing a roadmap out of Covid-19, Hipkins said more could be expected on that in the next few weeks.

“Covid-19 is accelerating around the world, the pandemic continues to grow, in New Zealand for the most part majority of the population has not felt like they are in the midst of a global pandemic.

“But the pandemic is still raging, it is not over yet.”

Some other countries were being “bolder” in their approaches, and New Zealanders could see the “consequences” of such approaches, Hipkins said.

It comes after the largest shipment of Pfizer vaccines to date arrived on Sunday – more than 370,000 doses, two days ahead of schedule.

The previous shipment of 150,000 doses arrived two weeks ago, also two days earlier than planned, and as the country’s supplies drew close to zero.

The rollout has been averaging between 100,000 to 120,000 doses a week since the end of May, restricted by the number of doses arriving into the country.

The size of the latest shipment meant the weekly rate should start to increase – in line with the Government’s plans to “ramp up” the rollout over July and August when the biggest shipments are due from Pfizer.

Based on last week’s update DHBs are tracking about 6 per cent ahead of schedule on vaccinations.

There had been 1,404,343 vaccination doses delivered, including 564,789 who had received their second dose and were thus fully vaccinated.

However, the rollout was proving increasingly inequitable, with Māori trailing Pākehā by about 40 per cent.

In part to address this, the Government last week announced the country’s first mass vaccination event, delivering 15,000 doses over three days, would be held in Manukau, South Auckland, over the weekend of Friday, July 30, to Sunday, August 1.

Hipkins is likely to also address questions around the timing of the vaccine rollout.

On Wednesday the Herald revealed the Government’s first purchase order of the Pfizer vaccine comprised just 54,600 doses, and was made in late January, despite a commitment from Hipkins that New Zealand would be at the “front of the queue” for jabs.

Hipkins is also expected to address the latest on the confirmed cases aboard the Mattina container ship, which is currently quarantined in Bluff.

The Mattina is the third vessel to pass through New Zealand waters to be struck by Covid-19.

Thirteen of the 18-strong crew of the Playa Zahara fishing vessel are now in managed isolation and quarantine in Christchurch.

Five staff remain on board the ship and plans are in place for regular health checks for them. Plans are also in place if anyone becomes sick.

A total of 15 crew members from the Viking Bay tested positive for Covid before that.

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