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Key points

  • Four probable cases linked to community transmission cases

  • One new case in managed isolation

  • Businesses to be required to display QR code

  • Bloomfield issues health order requiring people linked to two workplaces stay home

  • Locations linked to Rotorua visit revealed

Director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says there are four probable cases with symptoms linked to the community outbreak of Covid-19.

There is also one new confirmed case in managed isolation - a woman in her 50s, who arrived in NZ from Islamabad who tested positive on her third day of isolation.

The total number of cases is New Zealand is now 1225, with 22 active cases. Bloomfield said.

The Government last night activated its Covid-19 resurgence plan after announcing there were four cases new cases of community transmission in Auckland, all members of the same family.

The four probable cases linked to the community outbreak were all in managed isolation.

Ardern and Bloomfield are providing an update as Auckland enters its fourth hour of lockdown and the rest of the country is in level 2.

Bloomfield said visit by two of the family members who had tested positive to Rotorua had not resulted in anyone being classified as a close contact.

But he urged Rotorua residents to remain alert to symptoms of Covid-19 until further information is released about where the family visited.

Health officials were still unsure if the cases of community transmission were linked to staff working at the borders or at managed isolation facilities.

The family stayed at the Waiora Hotel from Aug 8-11 and visited the Skyline Gondola Luge on August 8.

The family visited a number of locations, including eateries on their trip in early August.

People who ate at the same Rotorua eateries the family did would be considered casual contacts.

Interviews with family members who tested positive involved trying to trace their whereabouts for the last 14 days, so can take some time.

From a health perspective, Bloomfield said level 2 was an appropriate alert level for Rotorua.

Testing continues and there are roughly 6000-7000 people to test in Auckland, Rotorua, Christchurch and Wellington.

Bloomfield said he wasn't sure when the results of environmental swabs would be back but it wouldn't be today. He is aiming for tests to be processed within 24 hours but not everyone would receive their results in that time.

"What I can say is people will know very quickly if they do have a positive test."

Bloomfield had just recieved his own test results: "I'm negative".

As of midday, just over 200 close contacts had been identified, over 100 had been phoned by the Ministry of Health.

Bloomfield issues health order

Most of the contacts being spoken to are from the two workplaces linked to the family members. They have been told to stay at home.

"Because I think there is a serious and significant risk to the public ... I require the following people to do two things: to isolate at their usual home and to not go out to work until they are contacted by our national health service."

This applies to any employees of Americold in Mt Wellington, and the Dominion Rd branch of Finance Now in Auckland.

The directive also applies to any visitors to the two workplaces and anyone who lives with staff members of the those places.

If any of those people require advice to access financial assistance they should call Work and Income.

QR codes mandatory 

Arden said they are using three ways of getting the message to people who need to stay home - employers contacting staff, contact tracing and using a public platform to notify them directly.

She said a new Covid-19 order came in that requires people to stay at home unless there is a place they can work safely.

At noon today another public health order came into effect, requiring people to stay at home unless they were essential workers or could work safely.

"The order makes it mandatory for any business or service to displace a QR code for the Covid tracer app prominently at all entrance points ... what is mandatory is the display of the QR code," Ardern said.

Businesses have a week to comply.

Last night over 100,000 people downloaded the Civid tracer app. Ardern urged Kiwis to download and regularly use it.

The PM said people travelling out of Auckland via plane must wear a face mask.

"While we are not requiring everyone else in Auckland to wear a face mask or covering, we strongly urge it."

One million masks have been allocated to Countdown and there are plans to distribute three million masks to those who struggle to afford or access masks.

Five million masks have been released from the Government's stocks.

Cloth and reusable face coverings will suffice if people cannot immediately purchase a mask, Ardern said.

"If you can't get out to purchase one or expense is a barrier, please use whatever you have on hand."

Ardern said 600 people were taking calls for telehealth services but there were delays. She asked people who had questions to go online if they couldn't get through.

Ardern said it was "totally understandable" that anxious people had contacted Healthline.

There were 600 people working at the call centre and a further 90 staff members added today. Another 180 will join the ranks tomorrow.

Applications for the wage subsidy scheme remain open until September 1, she said.

"I encourage you to reach out to Work and Income and make an application if you need that support."

The Covid income relief payment remains open until November 13.

The Finance Minister met treasury yesterday to discuss financial support for Aucklanders if level three lasts longer than the three days.

The PM said our response to the virus so far had worked but everyone needed to stick to the plan.

"Our response to the virus so far has worked ... success relies us on all working together, looking out for one another. We know how to beat this, but we also know that we don't have to look far to see what can happen."

Alert level 3 in Auckland and alert level 2 for the rest of the country have been in place since midday today, after the first cases of community transmission since early May were confirmed yesterday.

Those alert levels will be in place at least until midnight on Friday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: NZ Herald
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: NZ Herald

Four people in the family have tested positive and are isolating at home. A decision is yet to be made about moving them to a quarantine facility.

A man in his 50s went to his workplace, a finance company, while symptomatic. The company has been shut down and 130 people are now being tested.

Three people at his workplace are now showing symptoms.

The man's partner, who has also tested positive, works for a company with 160 staff and four sites across Auckland, which have been closed. Surfaces are also being checked for traces of Covid-19.

All close and casual contacts of the family were being tested. Close contacts were in self-isolation and would remain for 14 days. Casual contacts would not be allowed out of self-isolation without a negative test.

Every worker at the border or in managed isolation or quarantine facilities are also being tested.

At alert level 3, people are only allowed to travel in and out of Auckland to return home. People who were recently in Auckland are being told to be vigilant, but they do not have to self-isolate.

Image: NZ Herald
Image: NZ Herald
Police have set up nine checkpoints on the outskirts of the city to ensure travel is only being undertaken for valid reasons.

This morning Ardern urged people with symptoms to be tested, and for people without symptoms to refrain from asking to be tested.

Parliament was due to dissolve today at 11am but it has been deferred until at least Monday.

Options around the election are being explored and no decisions have been made about whether it will be delayed or not.

National Party leader Judith Collins has called for the election to be pushed back to November, or failing that for Parliament to meet and vote on delaying it until 2021.

All aged-care facilities have closed their doors to visitors, Ardern said, as a precaution.

People are encouraged to wear masks - in Auckland when in public, and for the rest of the country in shared indoor spaces like public transport - and the Government has required people flying out of Auckland to wear masks.

It is yet to decide whether to require masks to be worn in other circumstances.

 

Comments

Four new cases in the country, and back to lockdown? No wonder Fox News is sniggering. Ridiculous over-reaction.

 

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