Live Updates: Latest on COVID-19 Community Outbreak, Demonstration in Parliament – Sunday 20 February

10:08 – The ACT has called on the government to ‘drop government vaccine mandates’.

ACT chief David Seymour said on Sunday that based on last week’s figures there was now little difference in the likelihood of someone fully, partially or unvaccinated testing positive with Omicron.

Here is the full statement:

“Vaccination rates make little difference to infection rates on Omicron, which means it’s time to ask whether the benefits of vaccine rules are still worth the costs to individuals and social cohesion in general,” Seymour said.

“Based on new evidence, it may be time to abandon government vaccine mandates.

“These data do not mean that vaccination is not useful or effective. Vaccination is still your best bet to stay out of the hospital, but even strongly pro-vaccine people like me have to deal with what the new evidence says about infection rates.

“In the eight days from Friday the 11th to Friday the 18th, when Omicron cases really took off, there were 347 new unvaccinated cases, 140 new partially vaccinated cases and 7,085 new fully vaccinated cases. These numbers do not are not reported transparently and should be taken from the Department of Health website.

“Of course, there are many more people vaccinated than unvaccinated, so the raw numbers don’t tell the whole story. For every 100,000 unvaccinated people, 225 tested positive. For every 100,000 partially vaccinated people, 204 tested positive. tested positive and per 100,000 fully vaccinated people vaccinated 178 people tested positive.

“There are a number of possible explanations why the figures between the infection rates of vaccinated and unvaccinated people should look so similar. For example, vaccinated people might have more confidence or be able to access the healthcare system, and therefore be more likely to take a test than unvaccinated people.

“None of the explanations can really explain the similarity without accepting that vaccination makes at best a small difference in whether someone tests positive for Omicron, however.

“These new figures show how Omicron is changing the game, even since this time last month. On January 19, the Ministry of Health website reported that half of all COVID cases up to this date had no unvaccinated and a quarter partially vaccinated.In the past week, there have been 20 times more vaccinated than unvaccinated cases.

“These historical figures will be influenced by the early stages of the pandemic, when no one was vaccinated. However, it is almost impossible to know by how much with the data that the Ministry of Health gives us. In any case, past data doesn’t change the reality we face now, Omicron changes the numbers.

“These figures are consistent with international evidence. Australia has similar vaccination rates to New Zealand, but has experienced widespread outbreaks of Omicron far beyond those vaccinated. In the UK , unadjusted infection rates show that per 100,000 people vaccinated, cases are 2-3 times more frequent than for those with three shots.

“It would be helpful if the Ministry of Health started transparently publishing data on vaccination rates. Currently, it updates the cumulative number of vaccinated, partially vaccinated and unvaccinated cases daily, but the number of new cases each day can only be derived by recording the data and calculating the change from day to day.

“We are facing huge distrust and dissatisfaction with the government because of this type of lack of transparency which suppresses free and open debate. The government should insist that the Ministry of Health make the data transparent , and even provides analysis so that any confounding variables can also be understood.

“More importantly, government policy may need to change direction. It is difficult to say that there is not widespread transmission among those vaccinated. It seems unlikely that the 347 unvaccinated cases have infected another 7,085, about 20 each, but the vaccinated people did. This is especially the case given that the vaccination mandates have largely separated the unvaccinated from the vaccinated.

“People were led to believe for over a year that other vaccinated people would protect them from becoming infected themselves. It seems that this is no longer true, or at least the effect has been considerably weakened .

“All of this leads to a simple conclusion. If there is little difference in rates of infection and spread of Omicron between vaccinated and unvaccinated people, then what is the point of isolating them? From the opposite perspective, if isolation is increasingly expensive and undesirable, what kind of difference in infection rates would we need to justify it, and is the difference between 178/100,000 and 225/100,000 enough?

“It is time to assess the costs that vaccine requirements impose on individuals, workplaces and social cohesion, and ask whether policies that mandate vaccination in various settings are still worth it. The case gets stronger the day they aren’t as Omicron spreads between vaccinated and unvaccinated in a way it didn’t with previous variants, and policies designed to prevent unvaccinated transmission are no longer worth the It’s time to move on.

9:48 – The Ministry of Health has announced a new ‘high risk’ site of interest in Te Puke.

The location is:

The department asks if you are a close contact to “self-isolate for 7 days, test on day 5 after exposure to this location of interest. Monitor for symptoms for 10 days. Test again if not feeling well “.

For dates, times and relevant public health advice – and updates to existing places of interest – click here.

9:38 – Police Commissioner Andrew Coster told TVNZ Q&A on Sunday that he had “no idea” when the protest was over.

“I have no idea, I think there are many different ways it could play out, but the judgment I make is based on my best assessment, which I think there is a good opportunity to de-escalate and get to a place where the protest can be resolved without the need to bring large-scale violence to a crowd of this size,” he said.

Coster said that in hindsight the protest “shouldn’t have come to this” and that the police should have intervened on the first night when tents were set up outside Parliament.

But he added that the Kiwis would not have “accepted” the level of confrontation that would have been required.

If the police used confrontation and “moved in,” staff would have to use batons and tear gas to disperse the crowd, Coster said.

Coster called the protest outside Parliament “unlawful and unreasonable” and “clearly this protest crossed a line”, but said police were focused on the safest resolution.

“It’s a really unpleasant and difficult situation and I’m afraid people will be affected in this way,”

He denied reports that some police personnel were supporting the protest and said they were receiving advice from Ottawa police about another anti-warrant protest.

“It’s incredibly frustrating for those who have worked hard to get through these unusual times that we have had,” he said. “Enforcement has to be there at some point… the tactics have to be appropriate for everyone involved.”

Asked about the pressure he was under and whether he had public and government support, Coster said the police minister expressed confidence in him on Saturday and was not considering resigning.

“I focus on the job at hand and that’s what people expect of me and that’s other people’s business,” Coster said.

“I think there’s a wide variety of views on this, but ultimately I’ll be judged by the history of this and what happens. In the moment I have to make the best decision possible.”

9:07 – In Australia, hundreds of protesters showed up in Canberra on Saturday to rally against vaccination mandates and COVID restrictions.

Protesters across the divide have been gathering outside Parliament for three weeks, but the crowds have slowly dwindled over the past week.

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