Ashley Bloomfield confirms 5 new Covid-19 cases in the community, 1 in managed isolation

There are six new cases of Covid-19 to report today, one of which is in managed isolation.

The other five cases are in the community, all linked to the South Auckland cluster.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today's results were "encouraging" and there appeared to be no surge in community cases.

There were also no more cases related to the Rydges infection announced yesterday.

The cases were not doubling each day over the past week, and the resurgence plan was working as intended so far, Ardern said.

She said Cabinet's testing strategy from late June had not been executed as expected, and she outlined three new measures.

A small team will be set up to support the Health Ministry, co-chaired by Heather Simpson and Sir Brian Roche, will help the ministry with the testing strategy.

"We are implementing here a strategy that cuts across multiple government agencies. Health is deeply embedded inthe roll out and we do need to support them."

She said Roche was working alongside Auckland's public health unit, and he will report to director general of health Ashley Bloomfield on progress.

No system is foolproof' - PM

Ardern said 500 more Defence Force personnel would be deployed to managed isolation facilities, bringing the total to 1200 Defence Force staff. This boost will be rolled out over the next six weeks, and staff at each facility will be 19 per facility. That will bring the total Defence Force personnel supporting the Covid-19 response to around 1200 – the largest military contingent since Timor-Leste.

Staff will also be at the maritime border to assist Customs, she said.

"This will raise accountability and will give more central control over procedures."

She said these measures would help limit the risk of further spread.

"No system is foolproof and in a global pandemic, there are no absolutes."

Some 40,000 Kiwis had returned from overseas, and it was "unrealistic" to have a perfect border system, she said.

Breakdown of 1200 Defence Force personnel:

• 990 at Managed Isolation Facilities
• 80 at Border
• 70 in Police Traffic Management
• 100 for electoral support.

There are 125 people linked to the cluster who have been moved into the Auckland quarantine facility, including those cases and household contacts.

There have been 1299 confirmed cases in New Zealand.

There are five people receiving hospital-level care, one in Auckland City Hospital and four in Middlemore.

Bloomfield said there were 23,038 tests were processed yesterday.

Since August 11, there have been 1983 close contacts identified, of which 1861 have been contacted.

He said the Glen Innes Pak N Save was only visited once by a confirmed case on August 12, and Bloomfield apologised for giving different information yesterday.

The current alert level settings - level 3 for Auckland and level 2 for the rest of the country - are in place until 11.59pm on August 26, but Cabinet will review the settings on Friday.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins said this morning that there was no need to move Auckland to level 4, based on the test results so far.

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Rules for Alert Levels:

Alert Level 4 — Lockdown

Likely that the disease is not contained and community transmission is occurring.

• Range of measures that can be applied locally or nationally

• People instructed to stay at home in their bubble other than for essential personal movement.

• Safe recreational activity is allowed in the local area.

• Travel is severely limited.

• All gatherings cancelled and all public venues closed.

• Businesses closed except for essential services, such as supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics, petrol stations and lifeline utilities.

• Educational facilities closed.

• Rationing of supplies and requisitioning of facilities possible.

• Reprioritisation of healthcare services.

Alert Level 3 — Restrict

Community transmission might be happening.

• Range of measures that can be applied locally or nationally.

• People instructed to stay home in their bubble other than for essential personal movement — including to go to work, school if they have to or for local recreation.

• Physical distancing of 2 metres outside home including on public transport, or 1 metre in controlled environments like schools and workplaces.

• Bubbles must stay within their immediate household bubble but can expand this to reconnect with close family/whānau, or bring in caregivers or support isolated people. This extended bubble should remain exclusive.

• Schools between years 1 to 10 and Early Childhood Education centres can safely open but will have limited capacity. Children should learn at home if possible.

• People must work from home unless that is not possible.

• Businesses can open premises, but cannot physically interact with customers.

• Low-risk local recreation activities are allowed.

• Public venues are closed. This includes libraries, museums, cinemas, food courts, gyms, pools, playgrounds, markets.

• Gatherings of up to 10 people are allowed but only for wedding services, funerals and tangihanga. Physical distancing and public health measures must be maintained.

• Healthcare services use virtual, non-contact consultations where possible.

• Inter-regional travel is highly limited to, for example, essential workers, with limited exemptions for others.

• People at high risk of severe illness such as older people and those with existing medical conditions are encouraged to stay at home where possible, and take additional precautions when leaving home. They may choose to work.

Alert Level 2 — Reduce

The disease is contained, but the risk of community transmission remains. Risk assessment. Household transmission could be occurring. Single or isolated cluster outbreaks.

• People can reconnect with friends and family, and socialise in groups of up to 100, go shopping or travel domestically if following public health guidance.

• Keep physical distancing of 2 metres from people you don't know when out in public or in retail stores. Keep 1 metre physical distancing in controlled environments like workplaces, where practical.

• No more than 100 people at gatherings, including weddings, birthdays, funerals and tangihanga.

• Businesses can open to the public if following public health guidance including physical distancing and record keeping. Alternative ways of working are encouraged where possible.

• Hospitality businesses must keep groups of customers separated, seated and served by a single person.

• Maximum of 100 people at a time in a defined space.

• Sport and recreation activities are allowed, subject to conditions on gatherings, record keeping, and physical distancing where practical.

• Public venues such as museums, libraries and pools can open if they comply with public health measures and ensure 1 metre physical distancing and record keeping.

• Event facilities, including cinemas, stadiums, concert venues and casinos can have more than 100 people at a time, provided there are no more than 100 in a defined space, and the groups do not mix.

• Health and disability care services operate as normally as possible.

• It is safe to send your children to schools, early learning services and tertiary education. There will be appropriate measures in place.

• People at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, for example those with underlying medical conditions, especially if not well-controlled, and older people, are encouraged to take additional precautions when leaving home. They may work if they agree with their employer that they can do so safely.

Alert Level 1 — Prepare

The disease is contained in New Zealand. COVID-19 is uncontrolled overseas.

• Isolated household transmission could be occurring in New Zealand.

• Range of measures that can be applied locally or nationally

• Border entry measures to minimise risk of importing COVID-19 cases.

• Intensive testing for COVID-19.

• Rapid contact tracing of any positive case.

• Self-isolation and quarantine required.

• Schools and workplaces open, and must operate safely.

• No restrictions on personal movement but people are encouraged to maintain a record of where they have been.

• No restrictions on gatherings but organisers encouraged to maintain records to enable contact tracing.

• Stay home if you're sick, report flu-like symptoms.

• Wash and dry your hands, cough into your elbow, don't touch your face.

• No restrictions on domestic transport — avoid public transport or travel if you're sick.

• No restrictions on workplaces or services but they are encouraged to maintain records to enable contact tracing.

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