Covid-19: All of NZ to remain at Red traffic light setting

Source: 1News

All of New Zealand will remain at the Red setting of the traffic light system.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed the news after Cabinet met on Monday afternoon.

Ardern said the next review is due on Thursday, April 14 just before Easter.

She said there was still pressure across the hospital network, and other areas of the country had not yet reached their Omicron peak.

That meant it wasn't yet time to move down to Orange, Ardern said.

Ardern said that as the outbreak had gone on, the length of stay of people who went to hospital was increasing.

However, Bloomfield said there wasn't modelling that showed what would happen to cases or hospitalisations if there was a move to Orange.

Ardern said that there was still a possibility that different parts of the country could move to Orange earlier than others.

"That possibility still remains in Auckland," Ardern said.

"We wouldn't have put in that review period [on April 14] unless we thought it was possible to move, but we won't pre-determine what we see."

Ardern said she recognises Red restrictions are "incredibly difficult" for sectors reliant on large indoor events, but added that the Government has removed gathering limits for outdoor events.

A person getting tested for Covid-19.

National's Covid-19 spokesperson Chris Bishop told 1News Kiwis would be "deeply frustrated" about the fact that the country remained in Red.

He said it was time the Government gave Kiwis, many of whom were fully vaccinated and boosted, back some control over their lives given the number of daily new cases and hospitalisations were trending downward.

ACT leader David Seymour echoed the sentiment, saying the announcement prevented businesses from planning for the future and that Kiwis were "tired of rules that don't make sense".

"Today we got an announcement that the announcement wasn’t being announced, and that another announcement might come later."

Meanwhile, the Greens' Covid-19 response spokesperson Teanau Tuiono said his party would continue to push for more protections for vulnerable communities, such as people with disabilities, children, Māori and Pasifika.

"Many of our families and vulnerable communities will feel some relief by remaining at Red for now - but now is the time to act to strengthen protections, particularly around masking and ventilation. The pandemic is not over," he said.

The Government had previously signalled it would begin to ease pandemic restrictions once the country was past the peak of its Omicron outbreak. Until then, it said it wanted to make sure traffic light settings would help make sure the pressure on the health system was manageable.

However, while areas like Auckland are past their outbreak's peak, the Director-General of Health warned that the regions could face "a more sustained peak".

On Monday, Bloomfield said Auckland was "not out of the woods yet" as hospitalisations had "quite a long tail" and lagged behind cases.

He said it wasn't so much a number of hospitalisations that health officials were looking for in order to move to Orange. Instead, they were looking at overall trends.

Currently, Auckland's hospitals had about half of the country's Covid-19 patients, and it was important that capacity was maintained, he said.

"Only around 1% of cases end up in hospital. Whilst most people are managing at home, there is also quite a number of people being cared for in the community via general practices, Māori and Pacific providers.

"So, we are also are taking into account workload for them."

New Zealand recorded 10,205 new Covid-19 cases on Monday and nine further deaths in the past three days.

There were 44 more people in hospital on Monday - a total of 734 people - compared to Sunday. The number of people in ICU or a high dependency unit reduced by one at the same time to 25.