15 new cases of Covid-19 in the community: 'Please if you have symptoms, do get tested'


The number of new community cases today is 15 and all are in Auckland.

The total is 855 cases for the outbreak; one has been reclassified as a border case.

There is also one MIQ case today.

The number of unlinked cases is now 25, but only two of today's cases are yet to be linked.

Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said five of the 20 cases yesterday were infectious in the community.

There are 37 cases in hospital, including six in ICU or HDU.

Of just over 38,000 contacts, Bloomfield said 87 per cent had had a test.

There were 13,230 tests processed, with 8566 in Auckland.

"In many respects, that's the most important number," Bloomfield said of testing numbers in Auckland.

"Please if you have symptoms, do get tested."

He said people could leave their homes in Auckland to get vaccinated, but that shouldn't involve leaving the Auckland boundary for most people, such as those who live near the boundary and would normally cross it to get vaccinated.

Hipkins reminded everyone that record-keeping was now mandatory, and using QR codes was the easiest way to do that.

The onus to do this was on businesses.

"It will be hugely beneficial for us if we need to contact you."

Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins said a survey since May for those who had come through MIQ found over 90 per cent said they had been treated fairly.

The Government froze the MIQ vouchers while the outbreak spread, and then said there will be a more equitable voucher system so people didn't keep losing out to others using bots or scripts.

The new system is a virtual waiting room that people can enter, and then vouchers are allocated randomly - but more details are yet to be released.

MIQ workers were "true Kiwi heroes", he said.

The booking system remained a point of frustration, he said.

The virtual lobby and more notice of when MIQ vouchers would be released would help, he said, and the Government was looking to increase MIQ capacity.

Crowne Plaza probe hits dead end, MIQ to re-open

The Crowne Plaza had been subjected to extensive reviews, he said, but the exact chain of transmission from the person thought to be the index case remains unclear.

The hotel, at the centre of the latest community outbreak, will re-open as a managed isolation facility tomorrow.

"It may well still remain a mystery," Hipkins said of how the virus leaked from MIQ to the community.

There was a less than 1 per cent chance that it came via someone standing in the lobby, and there was no rationale for shutting the atrium, Hipkins said.

Work was being done to improve the atrium and the public walkway next to the exercise area, he said, which would help alleviate public concerns.

How arrivals are processed is also being looked at, but Hipkins was satisfied that the Crowne Plaza will be reopened to accept returnees tomorrow.

The risk will never be zero, but expert advice was that it was "negligible".

Today the country outside Auckland emerged into Delta level 2, following 21 new cases yesterday, taking the outbreak total to 841- 824 in Auckland and 17 Wellington.

The total number of unlinked cases had fallen from 33 to 24 since yesterday, and a peak of about 60 several days ago. Just four of the new cases on Monday were potentially infectious in the community.

Covid-19 modellers now estimate the R value to be 0.4, and cases could fall enough for Auckland to move to level 3 next week as long as the current trends continued.

The Government has also confirmed that any business can apply for the wage subsidy scheme when any part of the country was in alert level 3 or 4, as long as the criteria - 40 per cent loss in revenue - was met.

This morning Hipkins said the Hardship Fund for Learners is being topped by $20 million to help tertiary students.

The fund can be used to help students who are facing any kind of hardship that is interfering with their study, such as those in financial stress, or for technology-related costs because students can no longer do face-to-face study.

"Because students' needs are diverse, this funding is flexible. Tertiary providers understand the needs of their students and will distribute it in the way that is most suitable. Learners may receive either cash grants, or goods/services purchased on their behalf," Hipkins said.

"If you are a tertiary student and need support to keep studying, please talk to your provider."

This morning Middlemore Hospital said 29 staff had been stood down for 14 days, and will undergo tests to see if they have the potentially deadly Delta variant.

Health Minister Andrew Little said it was a precautionary move, but "questions still need to be answered" over how the patient remained in the ward once displaying Covid-like symptoms.

Initial screening of the patient on his admittance included being asked if he had been at a Covid-19 location of interest. The man said they hadn't, meaning there was nothing to indicate that he was at risk of having Delta.

But the next morning he started displaying symptoms, Little said.

For more information visit covid19.govt.nz.

This article was first published on the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.