August 19 2021 – 07:00

Can I choose which vaccine I would like to get?

You have registered to get the Covid-19 vaccine and are standing in line, can you now choose which vaccine you would like to get? 

As the national vaccine rollout continues, the health department has clarified how vaccines are distributed.

There are two vaccines in circulation at the moment. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single dose, while the Pfizer vaccine is a double dose, meaning those who get it will need to make a follow-up appointment after being given their first jab.

August 19 2021 – 07:00

New Zealand identifies Delta outbreak origin as cases jump

New Zealand’s Covid-19 outbreak jumped to 21 cases on Thursday, but the authorities said the virus may not have been in the community for long as they linked its origin to a recent returnee from Sydney.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Health Chief Ashley Bloomfield told a news conference 11 new cases had been reported over the past day.

Ardern said genome sequencing revealed the current positive cases were a close match to a returnee from Sydney who arrived on a flight on August. 7.

The person tested positive to a Covid-19 on August 9 and was moved to a quarantine facility. He was later moved to a hospital on August 16.

“This is a significant development. It means now we can be fairly certain how and when the virus entered the country,” Ardern said at a news conference.

“And based on timelines there are minimal, possibly one or maybe two, missing links between this returnee and cases in our current outbreak. And the period in which cases were in the community were relatively short,” she said.

New Zealand had been virus-free and living without curbs until Ardern ordered a snap 3-day nationwide lockdown on Tuesday after a new case was found in the largest city Auckland.

The new cases, though still relatively small in number, have caused significant concern for authorities in the nation, which has struggled to get its population vaccinated.

On Wednesday, New Zealand’s central bank delayed a widely expected interest rates hike, citing increased economic uncertainty caused by the outbreak and new lockdowns.

Ardern warned that without nationwide curbs, New Zealand could witness the chaos seen in neighbouring Australia where the fast-spreading Delta variant has thrown half the country into lockdown.

A poor vaccination record, with just over 20% of the 5 million population inoculated against Covid-19 so far, meant the risk of exposing large number of people was higher. 


August 19 2021 – 06:24

Asian airlines report high vaccination uptake among crew

Asian airlines are reporting high vaccination take-up rates among pilots and cabin crew as they wait for the region’s tight pandemic-related border controls to be relaxed.

International travel in the Asia-Pacific region remains down about 95% from pre-pandemic levels, and concerns about the Delta variant have led to even stricter quarantines or flight caps in some places, leaving many air crew members idle and hoping for a recovery.

Singapore Airlines Ltd, Malaysia Airlines, Australia’s Qantas Airways Ltd and Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd are among those requiring crew to be vaccinated or risk losing their jobs.

Singapore Airlines said that 99% of active pilots and cabin crew had been vaccinated ahead of a September 1 deadline, as well as all frontline ground staff. Malaysia Airlines said that all active pilots and cabin crew had received vaccines as had 95% of Malaysia-based employees under a policy set in July.

Qantas on Wednesday said all employees must be vaccinated, while Cathay has mandated it for pilots and cabin crew by August 31.

Qantas’s Singapore-based budget offshoot Jetstar Asia said that all employees had to be vaccinated by October 1, and that nearly 100% had done so to date.

Even at airlines where crew vaccinations remain voluntary, carriers are reporting high take-up rates.

In the Philippines, budget carrier Cebu Pacific said 92% of its workforce, including 97% of pilots, were inoculated. AirAsia Philippines said 92% of its workers had received doses voluntarily, including 97% of cabin crew.

In Taiwan, China Airlines Ltd said all pilots and cabin crew had completed at least their first dose, while EVA Airways Corp said more than 90% of air crew had received both doses.

The Taiwanese carriers did not specify whether vaccinations were mandatory or voluntary.

United Airlines Inc this month became the first U.S. airline to require Covid-19 vaccinations for all domestic employees, a move that was followed by Hawaiian Airlines.


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