No community cases of Covid in capital for second day

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.

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.

More than 10,000 Covid tests were completed yesterday, including over 3000 in Wellington. 

Of the infected Australian traveller's 1752 contacts, 532 had returned a negative result. The rest were awaiting their results. 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.

Hipkins said authorites were encouraged by today's results, but it was still early.

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.

Covid-19 Recovery Minister Chris Hipkins (left) and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley...
Covid-19 Recovery Minister Chris Hipkins (left) and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. Photo: Getty Images

Two cases in MIQ

There are two new Covid cases in recent returnees in managed isolation and quarantine to report in New Zealand today. 

Thousands of tests 

More than 10,000 Covid tests were completed yesterday, including over 3000 in Wellington.

The permanent testing station on Taranaki St in Wellington was at capacity, but there were many other testing stations around the city, Hipkins said. Wait times were reasonably low.

Bloomfield said there were over 50 testing sites in the greater Wellington region. He urged anyone with symptoms and/or who had been at the places of interest at specified times to get tested.

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.

Hipkins said the rules applied to all people who had been at the places of interest at the specified times, regardless of whether they were still in Wellington or not.

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.

Yesterday, New South Wales health officials confirmed an epidemiological link of the infected tourist to the Bondi cluster, providing reassurance the person did not contract Covid in Wellington.

The Health Ministry said four initial close contacts - two couples from Palmerston North and Tauranga - who were previously identified were isolating, following public health advice, and had all returned negative test results.

- NZ Herald and RNZ  

 

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