Politics

Covid 19 coronavirus: Jacinda Ardern says 86 per cent of frontline workers have had at least one jab, state memorial service for Prince Philip announced

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says 86 per cent of frontline workers have received at least one Covid vaccination jab to date.

Ardern faced tough questions at a media update this afternoon with Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins in the wake of news that two new border-related cases hadn’t been vaccinated.

More information about the vaccine rollout would be given on Wednesday, Ardern said. Those who aren’t vaccinated would be moved off the frontline by the end of the month.

“That’s a timeline that’s been set out for some time.”

She said there were now 3472 MIQ workers vaccinated out of 4010 workers.

Cases B and C were employees of First Security – a private security firm contracted by the Government to work at the Grand Millennium MIQ facility. Seventy-nine per cent of First Security’s MIQ workforce had been vaccinated, Ardern said.

Case B at the Grand Millenium – who was diagnosed with Covid last week – had missed vaccination appointments for “various reasons”.

Ardern said there is data on how many MIQ workers were vaccinated in each MIQ facility, but that is yet to be released.

Hipkins said 12,000 active border workers were on the Government register saying who has and hasn’t been tested. Employers had their own records on their employees, but Hipkins said it will be mandatory to have all employees on the Government register.

Memorial service for Duke of Edinburgh

Ardern began this afternoon’s press conference by acknowledging the death of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.

There were three condolence books at Parliament and one at the National Library, she said.

A state memorial service will be held at 3pm on April 21 in Wellington.

“Tomorrow flags will fly at half mast.”

Parliament will acknowledge Prince Philip tomorrow and then adjourn for the day.

Increasing pressure

Ardern and director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield have come under increasing pressure in recent days after the two new border cases came to light.

Speaking to media earlier this afternoon, Bloomfield said there was no suggestion that either security worker was hesitant to take the vaccine.

The new case revealed last night – case C – did want to get the vaccine but was unable to as they were in self-isolation; given they were a close contact of case B.

In a statement, First Security said it has met all the Government’s Covid-19 health and safety obligations around MIQ.

“We have done, and continue to do, everything possible to ensure all employees working at MIQ facilities are vaccinated by the April 30 deadline set by MBIE, whilst acknowledging employee rights.”

Asked why there were still MIQ and frontline workers yet to be vaccinated, Bloomfield said: “Because it’s a large workforce”.

He said that all workers have been invited to receive the jab but some have yet to “take up that invitation”.

“It was always envisaged that there would be a period that they [MIQ and frontline workers] would be given to take up the invitation.”

Workers have until the end of April to get vaccinated.


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