New Covid cases from same family

There are two new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today.

Both cases are women - one in her 20s and the other 30s - and are from the same family.

They are from Afghanistan. Both were found to be positive on the day three test after arriving in New Zealand.

They are both in managed isolation - it has been 67 days since community transmission was last detected in NZ.

There is now no one hospitalised with Covid-19 - a patient previously in an Auckland hospital has been released.

There are 22 active cases in NZ, all in managed isolation.

There have been 1186 confirmed cases in New Zealand.

There were 1641 tests yesterday, and new Health Minister Chris Hipkins has asked officials to increase testing in the coming days and weeks.

He said New Zealand does not need to be testing around its peak - which was around 12,000 - but it was important testing still occurs.

The aim was for about 4000 a day, Hipkins said.

He said the current level of testing "isn't meeting the Government's expectations."

Hipkins - fronting his first Covid-19 update since being made Health Minister last week - said doctors needed to exercise their own judgement when it came to who was tested.

He put the onus back on health officials to decide who should be tested and why, he said.

There were no capacity issues - the Government can get up to around 13,000 tests a day if needed, he said.

But officials don't need to get to that level at the moment.

Hipkins said he would meet officials later this week to get to the bottom of why the amount of testing has gone down. He had not yet had a good enough answer from health officials as to why the test numbers were so low. 

There was a decline in numbers before the weekend.

Hipkins talked to officials about the testing issue today. There was an "absolute sense of urgency" around the issue and officials were made aware of this, he said.

He had made it clear that he wants the number of daily tests to be increased to 4000 within days, he said.

Health advice the Government received was that was the number of people who should be tested a day.

New Zealand "certainly" has capacity for surge testing, he said.

Hipkins left the door open for asymptomatic people to be tested, saying they have tested positive in the past.

He said the 4000 figure was based on statistics.

Asked about the Covid-19 tracer app, he said there were 590,000 registered users.

But he said people have been getting out of the habit to sign in and called on the public to continue to do so.

He said there were 700 more managed isolation beds coming online this week.

Asked if Queenstown had been ruled out in terms of hosting a managed isolation facility, he said: "Never say never."

He said officials were working as quickly as they could to scale up the number of beds in New Zealand.

The Covid Card scheme was still under consideration.

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