Life during a Covid outbreak comes with a unique set of rules, some of which are not always clear. In our daily feature we answer questions from readers about anything Covid-related. Email [email protected]
What is the plan for under-12s? This seems to be an area where there is very little conversation. We will be opening up the borders soon and there are a massive amount of people under-12, some of which have immune-compromised health already. What’s the plan for them? Open up and wish them luck?
Auckland University Associate Professor Helen Petousis-Harris, a vaccine effectiveness and safety expert, said vaccine trials in children under 12 were almost complete for children down to 6 months of age.
The trials were expected to be completed this month and then submitted to regulatory agencies for approval.
A Ministry of Health spokesman said Medsafe had not yet received an application from Pfizer to vary the approval of their Covid 19 vaccine for youth under the age of 12 years.
“If and when Pfizer does submit an application, Medsafe will prioritise the assessment of the data for this age group. Any decision to use must be approved by Cabinet,” he said.
The Ministry was working with experts on the vaccine roll-out and acknowledged vaccination rates would play a “key role” in future changes to the border settings.
On Sunday, director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield addressed the issue at the daily press conference.
He said a new study published last Friday by the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed just how important high vaccination rates were for protecting children who cannot themselves be vaccinated.
“This study shows emphatically that US states with high vaccination rates had fewer hospital admissions in younger children than states with lower vaccination rates,” he said.
“We know that severe illness from Covid 19 can and does occur in children and adolescents although the disease is often milder. This study from the US shows the impact of Covid 19 vaccination in the wider population has a strong impact on hospitalisation rates in young people.
“The key message is clear – broad community-wide vaccination of all eligible people is critical to helping protect children from both infection with, and severe illness from, Covid-19.”
Petousis-Harris echoed that sentiment, saying that until the vaccine was approved for younger children the best defence was making sure that everyone else was vaccinated.
The term “deep clean” has been used in media to describe a cleaning process of certain places where Covid 19 has been found. Could you please explain what a “deep clean” process entails and what chemicals/products are used?
The Ministry of Health has a strict list of criteria businesses must adhere to when deep cleaning.
A 2-in-1 hospital grade disinfectant and cleaner must be used.
• All linen should be removed and washed with the warmest temperature recommended on the item’s label.
• All table top appliances should be cleaned. Crockery and cutlery should be cleaned thoroughly – preferably in a commercial dishwasher.
• All large kitchen appliances should be cleaned inside and out.
• All “high-touch” surfaces, such as counters, cupboards, tabletops, doorknobs, and light switches must be cleaned.
• Bathroom fixtures, showers and toilets should be cleaned with a separate set of cleaning equipment using disinfectant or bleach solution.
• Vacuum the carpet. Steam cleaning of carpets and rugs is not required.
• For hard floor surfaces, clean the floor with the prepared disinfectant or bleach solution.
Earlier this year Foodstuffs said its stores were deep cleaned by a professional cleaning contractor and all store surfaces that were likely to have been touched or stepped on, including, walls, cabinets, handles and shelves were cleaned and sanitised.
Countdown said its cleaning covered all high touch areas, including checkouts, self-checkouts, handles, trolleys, baskets, toilets and more.
I am a casual worker for a company that has paid their permanent workers 40 hours per week pay from the beginning of the lockdown. Does the company have to legally pay me my average hours that I have worked over a specific time as well?
A company has to apply for the wage subsidy for each individual employee and identify them by name in the application.
Companies are able to apply for the wage subsidy for the usual hours worked by casual employees, according to Work and Income.
However, Community Law pointed out casual workers were not entitled to ongoing work, so there was no guarantee they would continue to be employed.
Businesses that receive the subsidy are obligated to continue to employ all staff named in the application for the period it receives the subsidy and cannot compel them to use leave entitlements for that period either.
The employer is also unable to make any changes to employment agreements without the written consent of the relevant employee. That means an employee’s rate of pay, hours of work and leave entitlements cannot be changed.
Companies who receive the subsidy must do their best to pay employees 80 per cent of their normal wage or salary. At minimum they must pay at least the full subsidy amount to each employee named on the application.
If I have been scanning in everywhere 100 per cent, can I assume I will be contacted if I have been at a place of interest at that time, or do I still have to check the list of places every day?
In most cases, if the person with Covid has not scanned in using the NZ Covid Tracer app no alert will be sent through the app and no one will contact you.
The Government’s Covid 19 website explains that if the person was using the app and scanning QR codes, contact tracers could be certain of where they were at exact times and an alert can be sent to others who scanned in at that time.
If they were not using the app, an alert will not be sent to avoid sending false alerts and worrying people, the site says.
That means, in short, you still need to check the locations of interest list on the Ministry of Health website every day to make sure you were not in the same place at the same time as a positive case.
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