Covid 19 coronavirus update: Zero new cases today

There are no new Covid cases in New Zealand today.

The total number of active cases in New Zealand is 56.

Air NZ case

Officials are still investigating how an Air NZ crew member caught Covid-19. The person flew into New Zealand from the United States.

“Preliminary genome sequencing results suggest the source of their infection was in the United States,” the Ministry of Health said.

“The Air New Zealand aircrew member remains in the Auckland quarantine facility. Three other aircrew members who are close contacts are in isolation.All three close contacts will have a day 5 Covid test today,” the ministry said.

And rooms in managed isolation have been sitting empty because some desperate returnees have been able to book more allocation vouchers than they need.

The Government is not putting a limit on the number of spaces people can lock in, despite other New Zealanders saying they feel stranded and helpless overseas.

Elsewhere, Germany has been forced to step up their lockdown measures beginning Wednesday through Christmas to January 10.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Health said early genomic testing had found no link between the positive case and existing cases in New Zealand.

Comparison with international samples suggested that it originated in the United States, they said.

The exact source of the positive case had not yet been confirmed, and the ministry’s investigation is ongoing.

The crew member arrived in New Zealand on December 9 on a flight from the United States.

They tested positive as part of mandatory testing within 48 hours of returning from the country.

While overseas, aircrew are legally required to wear protective equipment while in direct contact with passengers or if outside of the aircraft or their accommodation.

They must travel directly to their accommodation and cannot leave except for emergencies.

The ministry said Air New Zealand had given its assurance the person had complied with all requirements for crew flying to and from the US – and the risk to the general public was considered low.

Germany goes into lockdown through Christmas

Germany is ratcheting up its pandemic restrictions in an effort to cut the stubbornly high rate of coronavirus infections.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said she and the governors of Germany’s 16 states agreed Sunday to step up the country’s lockdown measures beginning Wednesday to January 10 to stop the country’s exponential rise of Covid-19 cases.

“We are forced to act and we’re acting,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin, noting that existing restrictions imposed in November had failed to significantly reduce the number of new infections.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Germany has risen over the past two weeks from 21.23 new cases per 100,000 people on November 28 to 26 new cases per 100,000 people on December 12.

Starting Wednesday, schools nationwide will be closed or switch to homeschooling; most non-food stores will be shuttered, as will businesses such as hairdressers that have so far been allowed to remain open. Restaurant takeout will still be permitted, but no eating or drinking can take place on-site.

Managed isolation vouchers being hoarded by some, leaving others desperate

Rooms in managed isolation have been sitting empty because some desperate returnees have been able to book more allocation vouchers than they need.

The Government is not putting a limit on the number of spaces people can lock in, despite other New Zealanders saying they feel stranded and helpless overseas.

It is mandatory to reserve a room before flying to the country, and the only people who can get rooms sooner than late February must either meet strict emergency allocation criteria, or snap up the very occasional cancelled booking by refreshing the website.

Immigration lawyer Richard Small said the system had become overrun with “desperate people, behaving in a desperate way and just booking everything they can see that pops up”.

“It’s a lottery. It becomes an accident of being online or having four or five other people to take rosters with you – that’s what we’ve heard of as well, people that have helpers that are constantly monitoring the website and grabbing everything that tumbles out.”

– Additional reporting AP & RNZ

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