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There are no new cases of the coronavirus in the community, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says, as Wellington continues to be in alert level 2 following a visit by an infected Australian.
The man from Sydney spent last weekend visiting the New Zealand capital, prompting the change in alert level for the Wellington region. He arrived with his partner on Saturday June 19 and left on Monday June 21.
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There are 22 new cases of the virus in Sydney to report today, taking the total number of infections in the latest outbreak fo more than 50. New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced large parts of Sydney are heading into a lockdown, with a stay-at-home order lasting until midnight next Friday, July 2.
Quarantine-free travel between New South Wales and New Zealand had already been suspended.
In an update to media today, Hipkins said wastewater testing showed no Covid-19 had been detected around the Wellington region, which will stay at level 2 until at least 11.59 on Sunday.
The Ministry of Health said there were 10,749 tests processed on Thursday; 3,713 of those tests were processed in the greater Wellington region.
Of the infected Australian traveller's 1752 contacts, 532 had returned a negative result. Eight had returned overseas and will be manged by overseas jurisdictions, while the remaining 1212 were either being followed up or are awaiting a test result.
Just over 500 of the infected man's 1752 contacts were deemed close contacts and needed to self-isolate for the full 14 days, including a day 5 test,
There were 58 passengers on the Qantas flight QF163 which the Australian passenger travelled on to Wellington last Saturday. All have been advised to isolate. Of those 58 passengers, 27 have had a negative test result, and the remainder are expected to have results in the next couple of days.
New Zealand-based flight crew from both the inbound and outbound flights have all been contacted and are being tested. Those crew members based overseas are being managed by overseas jurisdictions.
Hipkins said authorities were encouraged by today's results - but it was still early.
"It's important that we all stay vigilant, and that includes people who were on the 195 Air New Zealand flights that took off from Wellington over the weekend and on Monday. That's flights across the country and of course across the Tasman.
"So if you are elsewhere in New Zealand, but you were in Wellington over the weekend, you also need to check the locations of interest page on the Ministry of Health website to identify whether you were at one of those locations of interest. If you are, then please regard yourself as living at alert level 2 even though you are not currently in the Wellington region."
Hipkins said people who had been around someone who had been at a place of interest did not need to be tested or self-isolate. They should just monitor their symptoms.
There are now 14 locations of interest where the infected Sydey man visited. The latest was the men's toilets on the first level at the southern end of the domestic concourse of Wellington airport.
Anyone who used the public bathroom between 9.15 - 9.30am on June 21 is being asked to stay home and get a test around day 5. If that test is negative they are asked to self-monitor for Covid-19 symptoms for 14 days.
People who have been at any of these locations at the relevant time should immediately isolate at their home or accommodation and contact Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice on testing.
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the test results from Wednesday and Thursday were important and would be available by Sunday.
"We are not out of the woods yet."
The results of the traveller's genome testing were not yet known. Hipkins said it had not affected officials' decision-making as they were presuming the variant was the more contagious Delta.
Bloomfield said they had seen greater impacts of this variant in Sydney and the United Kingdom, where vaccination rates were high. Delta had a clear evolutionary advantage over other strains, and affected young people more.
Hipkins said he had looked at mandatory QR code scanning, but there were big logistical hurdles around enforcement. It would add significant additional compliance for small businesses.
Hipkins said the Government was encouraging people to wear masks where they could not socially distance. Mandatory mask wearing was something officials were looking at. Compliance was an issue, and authorities also did not want to ask people to do things where there was not a good public health rationale.
By Sunday there would be more advice available, including further wastewater testing results to inform Cabinet's decision whether to take Wellington out of alert level 2, Hipkins said.
Two cases in MIQ
There are two new Covid cases in recent returnees in managed isolation and quarantine to report in New Zealand today.
They came from the United Kingdom and the Philippines and are staying at an MIQ facility in Auckland.
The number of active cases in New Zealand is 19 and the total number of confirmed cases is 2369.
The NZ COVID Tracer now has 2,870,034 registered users.
The Ministry of Health asked that people continue to remain vigilant and stick to the basics: stay home if unwell and get advice about having a test, wash hands regularly, cough and sneeze into the elbow, wear masks or face coverings on all public transport, and keep track of where you’ve been – scan QR codes wherever you go and turn on Bluetooth tracing in the app dashboard.
- NZ Herald and ODT Online