Ashley Bloomfield reveals 5 new cases of Covid-19 in the community

Photo / Getty

Photo / Getty

There are 5 new confirmed Covid-19 cases today - all related to the community cluster in Auckland.

Four are in Auckland and the other one is related to the Tokoroa case.

There are six people in hospital, including one person in intensive care in a stable condition.

There is another case under investigation which was originally classed as being connected to the Auckland cluster.

They visited St Lukes Mall on Wednesday, August 12, which has been shut since alert level 3.

The maintenance worker from Rydges Hotel who tested positive but is not related to the broader Auckland cluster used the same lift "very shortly" after a Covid-positive woman from the United States, Bloomfield said.

This was a "strong line" of investigation.

The two nurses who went into the woman's room have both now returned negative test results.

Bloomfield said people wanting tests who weren't symptomatic were putting additional unnecessary pressure on the testing regime.

"Very low" levels of the virus were found on swabs from one of the Americold facilities but they were too low for transmission, so surface infection has now been ruled out.

Hipkins said he knew restrictions were "difficult and frustration" but the next few days could be critical "to breaking the back of the latest resurgence" of the virus. He urged people to stay in their bubbles and keep following the rules.

He said 1.6 million people have now downloaded the Covid Tracer app.

There have been about 7800 requests for exemptions to get in or out of Auckland - more than 1000 have been granted and about 100 declined.

More than 18,000 tests were processed yesterday.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins and director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield are giving today's Covid-19 update.

The perimeter of the Auckland cluster was becoming more defined yesterday and there was increasing confidence the outbreak was contained.

But there were still no clues about how the outbreak got into the community.

The cluster yesterday had 74 cases, making it the fifth-largest since the start of the pandemic. They were all contacts of previously confirmed cases.

There were no other cases linked to the maintenance worker from the Rydges Hotel border facility, who tested positive this week.

All staff and guests were being re-tested with genome sequencing to establish how the man was infected, ruling it was connected to a woman who stayed in the hotel at the end of July.

The pair had zero person-to-person contact so officials are looking into whether there was a third person or possibly whether the virus was spread via a contaminated surface.

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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.