Wairoa will be the only Hawke’s Bay district to enter Covid-19’s “red” traffic light system on Friday – while the rest of the region will enter the “orange” level.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday that most of the upper North Island – including Auckland – will go straight into the red level under the new traffic light system from Friday, while the whole of the South Island will go to the less restrictive orange.
No regions will go straight to green.
The orange framework means record-keeping and scanning are required, with face coverings mandatory on flights, public transport, in taxis, retail and public venues, and encouraged elsewhere.
Tukituki MP Anna Lorck said at orange, vaccine passes mean a return to a “more normal way of life.”
“Because of the protection the vaccine provides, restrictions like being seated and separated or limiting the number of people able to enter are no longer required in many places, if all customers and staff are fully vaccinated,” Lorck said.
“We’ll still need to keep up those important health behaviours like scanning in wherever we go and wearing face coverings when we’re out and about, but the vaccine pass allows us to do more safely.”
Most businesses can open with no restrictions on numbers if they choose to follow My Vaccine Pass requirements, and allow only fully vaccinated people to enter.
Wairoa Mayor Craig Little has been contacted for comment.
The traffic light announcement came on the same day Hawke’s Bay hit an important Covid-19 vaccine milestone, with more than 90 per cent of the eligible population receiving their first vaccine.
There were also no new cases in the region announced today , with just a further gym visit added to the region’s locations of interest.
But one Hastings community case announced on Sunday had a prominent epidemiologist earlier suggesting the region should go to red rather than orange level settings.
Professor Michael Baker said on Sunday that any regions that have established Covid-19 transmission should be placed in ‘red’ in the traffic light system, alongside Auckland.
Hawke’s Bay hit the 90 per cent milestone on Saturday. A total of 2,043 vaccinations were administered over the weekend – of those, 733 were first doses and the remaining 1,310 were second doses, and now sits at 91 per cent with 132,229 first doses.
Hawke's Bay has now hit 90 per cent of its eligible population getting their first Covid-19 vaccine dose. Photo / Warren Buckland
Hawke’s Bay District Health Board is now also at 82 per cent fully vaccinated, though a further 12,175 second doses are needed to get the region to be 90 per cent fully vaccinated.
Hastings currently has the highest percentage rate, with 91 per cent of its population (64,308) having received their first dose with Napier at 90 per cent (49,872) and Central Hawke’s Bay at 89 per cent (11,263).
Wairoa is currently at 82 per cent (5,757).
There were no news cases announced in the region today.
The Hastings case announced over the weekend was picked up through routine testing after the person visited the Hawke’s Bay Hospital emergency department after feeling unwell.
No ED staff were stood down as a result, as all were wearing the appropriate protective PPE. Some patients in the waiting room at the time, considered to have a “low exposure risk”, were contacted directly by the DHB with further advice and asked to self-monitor for symptoms.
A new Hastings case announced on Sunday was picked up through routine testing after the person visited the Hawke's Bay Hospital emergency department after feeling unwell. Photo / NZME
The case has been linked to an Auckland case and is now isolating in a community isolation facility – two close contacts in the case’s household have returned negative tests.
The DHB confirmed this afternoon that the Auckland case was not the same as a permitted traveller who was told they had tested positive for the virus after arriving in Napier last week. The man has since recovered.
Other close contacts identified to date have also been contacted and are now isolating at home.
Four locations of interest have been identified, including one location twice:
• “Lick This” Ice Cream Parlour, Napier: Sunday, November 21, 2pm-3pm.
• Flex Fitness 24-Hour Gym Hastings Tuesday, November 23, 6pm – 7.30pm.
• Flex Fitness 24-Hour Gym Hastings Thursday, November 25, 6.15pm – 7.30pm.
• Pak’nSave Napier: Thursday, November 25, 8.30pm-10pm.
• Unichem Stortford Lodge Pharmacy, Hastings: Saturday, November 27, 4.15pm-5.15pm.
Unichem Stortford Lodge Pharmacy in Hastings has been identified as a location of interest visited by the Hastings Covid-19 case. Photo / NZME
Region reaches 90 per cent mark
HBDHB’s Covid-19 senior responsible officer Chris McKenna said the region’s primary care providers, councils, community leaders, iwi and Pasifika communities, along with all the vaccination teams, had worked really hard to tick this off.
She said everybody needed to be congratulated and passed on her thanks to the staff of the vaccination clinics, run by the various providers.
“These people have worked huge hours.
“A number of staff have come out of retirement to help deliver this vaccine rollout, which is the largest and most complex health programme in New Zealand’s history.”
However, the work continued, with mobile vans introduced to help reach some of the region’s remotest areas.
“With Covid-19 now circulating, across the motu, we are working hard to reach people who are hesitant, isolated or simply haven’t yet got around to it.
“We know people are busy at this time of year, but by protecting yourself and those you love you can take away a large chunk of the worry by getting vaccinated,” she said.
She said the region remained on track to hit the 90 per cent doubled-vaxxed milestone by the end of the year if everyone who is due for their second dose gets vaccinated on time.
The alternative Astra Zeneca vaccine was now available to anyone over 18 at the Hastings Racecourse, The Taradale Club and Waipawa Rugby Club clinics by booking through bookmyvaccine.nz
Booster shots are now also available to anyone who had their second dose six months ago.
People just need to go to any of the walk-in clinics with their vaccination information for a booster.
Meanwhile, about a dozen protesters, many of them former healthcare workers, gathered outside Hawke’s Bay Hospital yesterday morning over the Covid-19 vaccine mandate which saw them lose their jobs.
It follows protests in Hastings and Napier ahead of the order requiring healthcare workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19 coming into effect earlier this month on November 16.
About a dozen protesters, many of them former healthcare workers, were stood outside Hawke's Bay Hospital on Monday morning over the Covid-19 vaccine mandate. Photo / Warren Buckland
Hawke’s Bay locals urged to get tested
People were being urged to be tested for Covid-19 following news of the case, with increased numbers seen at centres across the region over the weekend.
About 335 people were swabbed as part of Covid-19 testing on Sunday compared to 264 the previous week on November 21 and 164 the week prior on November 14.
Testing locations in Hawke’s Bay include:
• Pukemokimoki Marae drive-through: 10am-3pm.
• Flaxmere Village Green drive-through, behind the supermarket: 10am-3pm.
• Central Hawke’s Bay Health Centre drive-through, Waipukurau: 9am-4pm.
Testing by appointment:
• The Doctors Napier: Saturday and Sunday (call 0800 TEST19).
• Hastings Health Centre: Saturday (call 06 281 2644).
• Queen Street Practice, Wairoa: Saturday and Sunday (call 06 838 8333).
The latest wastewater testing from Hawke’s Bay area was from November 24 and 25, where all sites had returned negative test results.
Further testing will be undertaken later this week.
The new Hastings case comes a week after another case was announced to be isolating in Napier’s Kennedy Park Resort after travelling down from Auckland.
The permitted traveller had returned a positive result for the virus from tests taken on November 14 before he arrived in Hawke’s Bay that same day.
He was notified of the result on November 17, at which point he was in Hawke’s Bay, though health authorities still believed he was in Auckland.
It was only brought to the DHB’s attention after it was raised with them by a family member when he was moved into isolation.
He has now recovered. Close contacts had so far returned negative results.