Covid-19 coronavirus: Latest update on any Christmas and Boxing Day cases

The Ministry of Health will provide an update on any new and existing Covid-19 cases in New Zealand shortly.

There were seven cases announced on December 23, all in managed isolation.

Seventeen previously reported cases had also recovered, taking the total number of active cases in the country to 49.

The total number of cases is 1772.

The ministry also made note of the emergence of a new strain of Covid-19, known as B.1.1.7, in the United Kingdom and officials were monitoring the situation.

They had also been told a Kiwi based in Taiwan had tested positive for the virus. The person had not been in New Zealand while infectious.

After today’s announcement, the next made by the ministry will be on Tuesday, December 29.

New Zealand scientists critical of anti-lockdown letter in top medical journal

Earlier this week, an anti-lockdown letter in one of New Zealand’s top medical journals by “Covid Plan B” academics drew the scorn of the ministry’s top advisers.

The letter to the editor in the NZ Journal of Primary Health Care from academics of several top universities claims New Zealand is “one of few countries chasing elimination of Covid-19” and that it is “stamping out livelihoods and lives”.

The co-authors of the letter include two University of Auckland senior lecturers in public health, an AUT University professor of public health and a Victoria University law professor.

Among the disputed claims in the letter are that a safe and effective vaccine is “at best four years away” and income loss to workers through the elimination strategy will result in a “330-fold greater loss of life” than less-severe flattening-the-curve approaches.

A swift response by Ministry of Health chief science adviser Dr Ian Town rebuked the letter in the same December 22 issue of NZ Journal of Primary Health Care.

“There is no mention of the adverse health effects of the virus, direct and indirect mortality impacts, nor the impact on healthcare services and staff,” Town says of the letter.

“Readers will have noticed that scientists in Sweden are publicly questioning their approach in the face of rapidly rising cases and deaths.”

Kiwis in UK beg to return as new variants spread

The rapid spread of new Covid-19 strains in the UK has some New Zealanders pleading with the Government for help to get home.

Meanwhile people here – including health experts – want the Government to tighten the screws on its border controls.

One new highly infectious Covid-19 variant is spreading across Britain while another, imported from South Africa, is under investigation by experts.

A New Zealander in the UK, Ranko Berich, described the situation for fellow Kiwis as “hundreds of people in dire straits”.

He has been trying to get home with his wife and two young children, having left his job and given notice on his flat, but they have found themselves in the thick of travel disruption.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled after Singapore and Hong Kong stopped allowing transits.

“We’re effectively jobless and homeless and we have to sort of scramble to make alternative arrangements,” he said.

“There are many people in a worse situation where they’re struggling to find accommodation, they’re worried about money and really they’ve just got no options.”

The situation is made more complex by New Zealand’s managed isolation booking system which is full for about 10 weeks.

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment said people could keep their managed isolation bookings if they rebooked new flights on the same day as their cancelled ones.

It expected between eight and 20 arrivals a day to be affected by the disruption in coming weeks, and said the cancelled bookings would be re-released on days with flights from the UK.

Additional reporting by RNZ

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