Covid-19 Delta outbreak: Today’s case numbers, Jacinda Ardern, Ashley Bloomfield with update

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield will release the latest Covid case numbers at 1pm today.

Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare will also front questions about the rollout, including whether the Government has done enough to help Māori.

Auckland faces at least two more weeks in level 3, while Waikato’s level 3 setting will be reviewed on Friday.

Northland moves to level 2 tomorrow.

Yesterday Ardern said Aucklanders needed to be shown the pathway out of level 3, and on Friday she will release vaccination targets for Auckland – as well as the whole country – and the new traffic light framework for the new normal in a highly vaccinated population.

This morning National Party leader Judith Collins said Ardern was treating New Zealanders like children for not revealing the targets yesterday.

Collins then refused to release her own target, which National will release tomorrow, adding that she didn’t think it was a double-standard.

Yesterday there were 60 new community cases, including 57 in Auckland and three in Waikato.

Ardern said the virus was now circulating all over Auckland, and urged everyone in the city to follow the level 3 rules.

But she said the advice from Auckland public health teams was that a circuit-breaker level 4 lockdown would not necessarily lower case numbers.

It would remain a lever that the Government could use if necessary, and if the public health advice recommended it – but it would also only work if people followed the rules.

The Government’s vaccination targets are expected to be high enough to prevent the virus from creating an unvaccinated cluster that would put pressure on the health system.

Public health experts have warned that young Māori are on the Delta frontline in Auckland as they are the most unvaccinated group, they make up the biggest share of the current active cases, and many of them live in the suburbs where the virus has become entrenched.

Only 66 per cent of Māori nationwide have had one dose and 45 per cent have had two doses, far lower than the national averages of 85 per cent and 66 per cent.

Yesterday Ardern said crowd-funding for a mobile vaccination clinic in Tairāwhiti shouldn’t be necessary, though she conceded that communication between DHBs and Maori health providers wasn’t always perfect.

The Government’s rollout has been accused of being implicitly inequitable, and Cabinet rejected expert health advice to prioritise Māori and Pasifika aged 50 to 64.

A larger proportion of Māori were also not eligible for the vaccine until later because Māori are on average much younger.

According to Statistics NZ, the median ages for Māori males and females are 25 and 27 years old respectively, much lower than the national median ages of 36.4 and 38.5 years old.

It’s also more common for Māori to live in harder-to-reach areas.

Whanau Ora providers sent a proposal to DHBs and the Ministry of Health in February with a plan to reach such areas, including using vaccination buses.

Instead the Government set funding aside for Māori and Pasifika health providers at the start of the rollout, but it’s unclear how many jabs this amounted to.

The Herald asked the Ministry of Health for this information on August 25 and is yet to receive an answer.

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