Disease ‘clusters’ double since Monday

The number of Covid-19 "clusters" has doubled since Monday.

The largest new group, with nine, is a Royal New Zealand Air Force rugby team that visited the United States.

In Marlborough, six clients from a dementia group have also tested positive for the virus, and staff involved are now self-isolating.

Overall, the number of people in New Zealand confirmed with Covid-19 in the past 24 hours increased from 552 to 600, and there were another 47 probable cases.

The number of clusters has also increased from seven on Monday to 14 yesterday.

A cluster is defined as a group of cases linked because they have been in the same place together.

The largest remains Auckland girls’ school Marist College, which has 48 confirmed and probable cases, and one new case since yesterday.

Hutt City cluster 1 has four cases, and three cases in Hutt City cluster 2.

Colorado ski-boat builder and Spectrum Care in Auckland both have four cases.

There have been 11 new cases added to the Redoubt Bar cluster in Matamata, now 23 stemming from St Patrick’s Day celebrations on March 17.

The cluster from the World Hereford Conference in Queenstown has also increased, with 24 cases now, up from 19 on Monday.

University of Otago emeritus professor and epidemiologist Sir David Skegg told Parliament’s Epidemic Response Committee yesterday he believed the testing had been skewed to people who have been overseas, and was therefore a poor indication of community transmission.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern admitted in a press conference yesterday afternoon authorities were not testing widely enough to tell where the community outbreaks were, so the case definition has been expanded.

Travel history and connection with a case was now not essential to being tested.

"I want more tests. We’ve built the capacity for more tests."

She said clinicians were deciding when it was appropriate to extend test criteria, not politicians.

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