Auckland back to level 3, rest of NZ to level 2

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced Auckland will again move to Covid alert level 3 and the rest of New Zealand will go to level 2.

The level change will be in place for 7 days nationwide and will begin formally at 6am Sunday morning. 

It comes after a new Covid-19 case was detected in the community this afternoon. The new case went to the GP in the afternoon yesterday for a test - they went to the gym after that.

Ardern said that was "frustrating".

Back into lockdown

Auckland's public venues, Ardern said, will be closed for seven days.

Gatherings outside of bubbles are prohibited.

She said this means all sports games now need to be canceled - that includes the Auckland Round the Bays.

She asked Aucklanders to again work from home and for children to stay home from school.

Supermarkets will remain open - "there is no need to rush to your supermarket", she said.

The border around Auckland will be re-established - police are working to set those up now,

People at high risk of illness are encouraged to stay at home, Ardern said.

The new case was a family member of a student from Papatoetoe High School. That student had tested negative 3 times before and had no known symptoms - that means there is no current link to the cluster.

Level 2 rules

• People can still go to work.

• Schools and daycare remain open.

• Gatherings restricted to 100 people

• Public and hospitality venues can open, and sports are allowed, subject to limits on gathering numbers and other provisions.

• Social distancing in public with strangers required.

The latest case developed symptoms on Tuesday.

They were tested on Friday and the positive result was received today.

Genome testing is underway - and there is a strong assumption that it's from the current cluster.

But that cannot be confirmed yet.

Ardern said there was a "cause for concern" as this person has been infectious for a week and not been in isolation.

Cabinet met this afternoon after the new case was detected.

That person had been to a number of "well-populated sites".

Ardern said the rules have not always been followed.

"People who should have been in isolation, weren't."

She said humans make mistakes and NZ won't succeed if "we turn on one another"

Ardern said she was "confident" that the message to isolate was passed on.

But despite that communication, that advice was not followed.

"Unfortunately, we have still had breaches of requirements in this case."

She said it needs to be kept in mind that "we are dealing with young people".

She reminded New Zealand that she was not asking any more than was necessary to keep others safe.

"Please follow the rules, on behalf of everyone."

She said New Zealand was "very close to being in a more certain future" as the country waits for vaccines.

She called on New Zealanders to just hang in for a little longer.

During the last week, there has been "significant" testing in south Auckland, Director-general of Health Ashley Bloomfield said.

He said the Ministry of Health is seeing people with muscle aches and general weakness and fatigue, as Covid-19 symptoms.

He is calling on anyone who have these symptoms to get tested.

"We are now in a position where we have a number of potential exposure events," he said.

Those people need to be prevented from going out and infecting others.

The latest case

Bloomfield said the latest case is a 21-year-old male, a close contact of a Papatoetoe High School student.

He said testing of other household members has been completed.

The mother has also tested positive for Covid-19.

This person was tested by their GP yesterday but has been infectious since last weekend.

He works part-time at the airport.

More sequencing is underway and will be back later tonight - he said that would likely show a link to the current cluster.

Four new locations of interest

The Ministry of Health has released four new locations of interest tonight:

• Hunter Plaza (26 February) 2.55pm-5pm
• Burger King Highland Park (25 February) 8pm-9pm
•Your Health Pharmacy (23 February) 2.45pm-3.50pm
• Pak'nSave Manukau (21 February) 5.30pm-6.40pm

More locations of interest will be up on the Ministry of Health's website soon.

Anyone who visited these locations is to be considered a casual contact of a Covid case "out of an abundance of caution". No specific times have been mentioned by the Ministry so far.

Meanwhile, a gym in Papatoetoe has been closed today after being told a person who has tested positive had visited twice, including on Friday.

This exact location has not been confirmed by health officials, but it is located in Hunter Plaza.

CityFitness Papatoetoe told members in an email tonight:

"We have been notified by Auckland Regional Public Health that a person who tested positive for Covid 19 visited our Papatoetoe location on the dates and times below."

Saturday Feb 20th – 12:20pm – 1:45pm
Friday Feb 26th – 3:20pm – 4:40 pm

"We have been advised the Auckland Regional Health Board will contact directly anyone who was in the gym during that time and designated as a "Close" or "Casual Plus" contact who should follow the steps below."Health officials' focus remains on KFC in the Auckland suburb of Botany. A family member of one of the Papatoetoe High School students who tested positive had been told to stay home and isolate, but instead went to work at the fast-food restaurant on Monday.

The Ministry of Health said earlier today there were three categories of contacts related to KFC. Eleven people in the first category are close contacts plus who also worked there and are in 14-day isolation.

Members of the public who entered the store at the time are close contacts who must get tested today, and casual plus contacts who went the drive-thru should also get tested today. Both groups should isolate until receiving a negative result.

Yesterday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was, "like everyone, frustrated" about the person who went to work at KFC.

"We want people to do the right thing because that's what keeps everyone safe."

Despite this, she is warning against a "mass pile [on]" of the person in question, as that might create an environment where people are too afraid to get tested.

She is asking for everyone who may have come into contact with the new case to "do the right thing" and isolate.

And if they don't, she is sounding a warning: "There is a section 70 order".

That order means a medical officer of health can oblige people to isolate.

"We have some legal footing for that ... and so there are repercussions," Ardern said.

Earlier today, prior to the latest community case being revealed, there was only one Covid-19 case in managed isolation.

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