Ashley Bloomfield reveals 13 new cases of Covid-19 in the community, 1 in hospital

Photo / Getty

Photo / Getty

There are 12 new confirmed cases of Covid in the community and one probable case, director general of Health Ashley Bloomfield says.

Two of the confirmed cases are in Tokoroa and are connected to a family member of the South Auckland family which first tested positive this week.

One of the 13 cases is in hospital. The total number of confirmed cases in New Zealand since the pandemic began is 1251.

All of the new cases are linked to the existing cluster, though one - the person in Auckland Hospital - is still under investigation.

Bloomfield said the trip to Tokoroa happened while the people were feeling okay. There will be a testing station set up in Tokoroa.

Thirty-eight people linked to the cluster have already moved into quarantine facilities.

Auckland Regional Public Health are tracing close contacts at the three schools which were reported by media this morning - Taeaofou i Puaseisei Preschool, Glamorgan School in Torbay and Auckland's Southern Cross Campus.

All of the cases, so far, are connected, said Health Minister Chris Hipkins.

"This is good news."

48,000 tests have been processed to this point and none show evidence of cases outside of the cluster, said Hipkins.

On the Morrinsville rest home, where two people visited before testing positive, the resident and staff members have tested negative. All staff and residents have been tested and the swabs will be processed today or tomorrow.

The chief executive of Pharmac told Bloomfield this morning that some people were stockpiling medicines and he urged people not to do that as it might mean some people could go without.

The primary means of contact tracing is interviewing confirmed cases to re-trace their steps.

Bloomfield started the briefing with the reminder that: "the problem is the virus, not people. People are the solution."

There was no stigma in having Covid-19.

He said reports of heathcare workers being abused and attacked were unacceptable.

Bloomfield will soon give his advice to Cabinet on whether the alert level restrictions need to change. The current alert level 3 restrictions for Auckland and level 2 for the rest of New Zealand are set to expire at midnight tonight.

Cabinet is meeting at 3pm, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will announce its decision at 5.30pm today.

On Tuesday, the 102-day streak of no community transmission came to an end after four people in an Auckland family tested positive without any link to overseas travel.

Yesterday, the first results of the mass testing revealed that the cluster had 17 confirmed cases and one probable case, all linked to the family and all in Auckland.

A staffer at cool store facility Americold is among those at the centre of the outbreak.

This afternoon, the Herald revealed there were two new cases of Covid-19 at the coolstore, bringing Americold's total cases to 13 while the Auckland cluster itself grows to 19.

The cluster's travel history includes Rotorua, Taupo and Morrinsville. Mayor of the South Waikato District Jenny Shattock revealed this morning that there was also at least one case of Covid-19 in Tokoroa.

"Unfortunately we have a confirmed case of Covid in Tokoroa and a probable case - plus five others have been tested as some of them are unwell," Shattock told staff.

Meanwhile up to 300 people have been told to get tested urgently after a Covid-positive family attended the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa Māngere East Puaseisei on Sunday.

A preschooler at the Taeaofou i Puaseisei Preschool, opposite the church, has also tested positive. Many of the church's youngest members attend the preschool also.

Also in Māngere East, a 6-year-old pupil at Southern Cross Campus tested positive, as did a student from the Manukau Institute of Technology.

The Covid risk also extended to Auckland's North Shore last night after a student at Glamorgan School in Torbay tested positive, sending the school into lockdown.

Two Noel Leeming stores on the North Shore were also been told someone who tested positive had visited over the weekend.

Cabinet meeting

Cabinet will look at a number factors when it meets at 3pm, including the number of new cases, where they are, whether they can be connected to the existing cluster, and whether the source of infection has been found.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters claimed last night that the source was a breach at a quarantine facility, but Health Minister Chris Hipkins said this morning he was not aware of any evidence of that.

Cabinet will also consider at how compliant Kiwis will be with lockdown rules, and the economic impact of further alert level restrictions.

The Government has been under fire this morning for the lack of testing of the 6000-7000 workers at the border of in managed isolation or quarantine (MIQ) facilities.

Despite weeks of requests, the Ministry of Health has been unable to provide data about the testing of these workers.

Newshub reported last night that, according to its own calculations, about two-thirds of those working at the border in Auckland haven't been tested at all.

MIQ Minister Megan Woods told Newstalk ZB today that those workers had been tested only if they had symptoms. They also had daily health checks.

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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.