Transtasman bubble suspended for another 8 weeks

The transtasman bubble is being suspended for a further eight weeks, the New Zealand Government has confirmed.

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson and Director of Public Health Caroline McElnay were providing a media update on the current Covid-19 outbreak.

The initial eight-week suspension on the transtasman bubble was due to end next Friday. However, this has been extended for a further eight weeks, until mid to late November. People in Australia can take part in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) booking system, Robertson said.

A red flight is planned for people in emergency situations. MIQ costs need to be covered by travellers and they need a pre-departure test 72 hours before travel.

In a statement, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the decision had been brought forward to enable access from Australia to the first tranche of about 3000 rooms in MIQ and Air New Zealand was working "at pace" to put on more flights from Australia from October.

Robertson said the number of people who are vaccinated on both sides of the Tasman will be part of the reconsideration in two months. At the moment, it was appropriate decision to have it on pause, he said.

"One of the things we might consider going forward is a state by state approach," he said, but it was not appropriate at present. It seemed like it would be "unlikely" in two months' time also, he added.

Community cases pass 1000 mark

The total number of cases in the Delta community outbreak now stands at 1007, with 11 new cases announced today, all in Auckland. Two cases remain unlinked to the outbreak.

There were also five cases at the border to report.

McElnay said health officials were now "cautiously optimistic"  they were closing in on the outbreak.

"We have reduced the number of unlinked cases right down." The total was now eight.

"Our metrics are very good," McElnay said about the time it takes to contact trace a positive case, and said contact tracers are working fast enough.

A positive wastewater result was found in East Auckland on Monday - results of a follow-up sample taken on Wednesday are expected in "coming days".

Wastewater detections like this do reinforce the importance of testing to err on the side of caution, she said.

There are have nine epidemiologically linked sub-clusters identified in this outbreak - two are active, seven are contained and one is dormant. A further 10 sub-clusters are unlinked, two are active, three contained and five dormant.

Truck driver's movements 

The Ministry of Health today identified new locations of interest after it was revealed yesterday that an Auckland truck driver tested positive for Covid-19.

He is known to have visited a number of supermarkets to deliver supplies in Auckland, Waikato (Cambridge and Hamilton) and the Bay of Plenty (Tauranga and Mt Maunganui).

Locations of interest are BP Tauriko on Saturday, September 11, Uppercrust Bakery in Mount Maunganui also on Saturday and then again on Tuesday, September 14. Waikato locations of interest were expected later today.

The driver and a family member who tested also positive for Covid-19 have been transferred to a manged isolation and quarantine facility. 

The driver wore a mask and maintained social distancing while working, McElnay said. The delivery areas are not listed as locations of interest because they were not open to the public. Staff have been notified.

Third wave of wage subsidy

The third round of the wage subsidy opened for applications this morning, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said.

More than 480,000 applications for the subsidy have been approved and $2.1 billion in payments had been given the green light.

A three-weekly payment had been agreed upon, instead of one payment for businesses. $563 million has been paid out to applicants already.

Thousands tested 

Some 7400 people were tested in Auckland yesterday - 1710 taken from suburbs of interest, while about 15,000 tests were processed nationwide.

McElnay said a number of vehicles were turned around at checkpoints overnight for failing to provide evidence at Auckland's boundary.

Since the start of September, 22,000 essential workers have had asymptomatic testing.

- RNZ and NZ Herald 

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