* ‘Divided nation’: Brian Tamaki defiant ahead of lockdown protest court appearance
* Northland couple incredulous they haven’t been contacted over case
* Liam Dann: Auckland business abandoned and ignored
* Taylor-made: Top knight approved for private MIQ trial – is this the future of business travel?
* Simon Wilson: The infectious disease of Covid’s angry blowhards
The Northland visitor located by police last night has tested positive for Covid.
“The travelling companion of the first Northland case, who was located by police in West Auckland last night, has now tested positive for Covid-19 and has been transferred to an MIQ facility,” health officials have confirmed.
It is understood that the woman will not be interviewed by police until she has finished her time in quarantine. She has now been moved to the Jet Park Hotel quarantine facility.
“We can also report that 18 contacts have been identified as associated with the first Northland case,” the Ministry of Health said.
“Contact tracers have made contact with 17 of these individuals, one of whom is the travelling companion and four who are household contacts. All 17 of these individuals have been tested.
“The remaining contact is being actively followed up by contact tracers and will be advised to get a test.”
Of the 18 contacts identified, nine are in Northland, seven are in Auckland, one is in Wellington, and one is still to be determined.
Northland District Health Board has increased testing and screening at hospitals for visitors and patients. Anyone with Covid symptoms is asked to get tested.
“People in Auckland and Northland should continue checking the Ministry’s website for new locations of interest.”
Director of public health Dr Caroline McElnay said this would help limit any potential spread of infection from the case.
Public health interviews with the case were under way to confirm their movements, she said.
Second woman found by police last night
As with her travelling companion, police need to speak to her before their investigation can be completed and any decision on charges made.
Police could not comment on the matter this morning but a source told the Herald any decision on charges would be several weeks away.
The second woman was found at a house in New Lynn at 9.55pm last night.
The woman has not been co-operating with health authorities and went into hiding after her travel companion tested positive for Covid-19 last week.
The pair travelled to the region under false pretences and have been refusing to tell public health staffers where they went and who they were with, which is key information needed by contact tracers trying to stamp out the spread of Covid.
Earlier today, director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed that the woman was symptomatic when she was found by police last night.
She was taken into custody under section 70 of the Health Act and transported to an MIQ facility.
Bloomfield told TVNZ her Covid test results would be expedited and any more information on her health would be released at the 1pm stand-up.
“We really want to get more details about other specific locations and specific people they had been in contact with,” he said.
Northland has been in level 3 since Friday night because of the uncertainty generated by the lack of information.
22,000 vie for MIQ rooms 'roulette'
More than 20,000 New Zealanders were again in the line for MIQ spots as soon as the new allocation opened this morning.
They’ve all been randomly allocated into a queue for today’s room release, and are trying to nab one of about 2900 rooms across November, December and January.
More than 16,000 people have vouchers to arrive between now and the end of the year.
The MIQ lobby opened at 9am today with rooms being released from 10am.
Cassie Roma, star judge on The Apprentice NZ TV show, wrote on Twitter that it was “hard to keep the faith” with the MIQ lobby system, which she described as “roulette”.
Roma said she was 21,000th in the queue this morning.
“The mental impact, let alone emotional & physiological, is beyond heavy,” she said.
Other Kiwis took to Twitter to complain about the system, describing it as “anxiety inducing bull****” and a “stress roller coaster”.
One man wrote that New Zealand was “a despicable country where human life is seen as expendable” after revealing he could not secure a spot to see his injured, elderly mother.
Last week 28,406 people entered the lobby hoping to secure an MIQ spot so they could return to New Zealand.
Some 6449 people from 126 countries managed to secure MIQ vouchers for the 3739 rooms.
The Government is warning there is a high demand for a limited number of rooms available during the room release, which means there will still be people who miss out.
Joint head of MIQ Megan Main said last week that although this new lobby system has improved user experience, it is not a silver bullet — it will not fix the issue of supply and demand.
Since the government announced its virtual lobby system in early October there have been 10,567 rooms released over the three drops. Today’s marks the fourth and there has been a promised of at least one more drop before the end of the year.
Last week, more people were vying for the January rooms than any of the other months on offer.
Over the past few months there have been numerous heartbreaking stories about kiwis desperate to come home continuously missing out on MIQ spots.
This includes students studying overseas who are unsure where they will live after they can’t secure a room before the end of the year. Others including retirees have also found themselves stuck in Australia after the trans-Tasman bubble popped.
'Pushback' expected on mandatory vaccination
It comes as a Government mandate requiring all education and health workers be fully vaccinated to protect the most vulnerable was announced yesterday.
The move has gained support from some sector groups.
Royal NZ College of GPs president Samantha Murton told Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB she expected a little pushback, “but it won’t be massive”.
Murton said mandated vaccines were going to come eventually anyway and was better to do it as soon as they could.
PPTA Auckland regional chair Paul Stevens thought all its members who were eligible to get the vaccine should.
While it was a compromise in terms of personal choice, the imperative needed to be the health and safety of their students, he said.
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