No new cases; households urged to have masks

Households should add masks to their emergency supply kits in the case of further Covid-19 outbreak, Health Minister Chris Hipkins says.

They do not need to be medical-grade masks, he said. It comes as New Zealand recorded no new Covid cases in the past 24 hours.

If New Zealand moves to alert level 2, at that point Kiwis will be encouraged to wear masks where physical distancing isn't possible, like on public transport.

Hipkins said the change in opinion on masks was reflective of updated World Health Organizarion guidance.

Hipkins said he "utterly" rejected that the Government was scaremongering, as they've been accused of by National.

"I would encourage Gerry Brownlee to swap the tinfoil hat for a face mask".

Hipkins said it wasn't "scaremongering" to say "it could all change" very quickly when it came to Covid-19.

"That is a statement of fact."

He said it was vital to stay "ever vigilant" about Covid-19 as the virus wouldn't be taking six weeks off for the election.

Hipkins reiterated there was no community outbreak but said people should prepare in case that did happen.

"This is about general preparedness - it's about being ready, it's not cause for alarm," he said.

Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said masks were "one tool in the toolbox" to help reduce the risk of spread of Covid-19 between people.

There is guidance on the Ministry of Health website about how to put on a mask, including a demonstration by Bloomfield.

Bloomfield said the masks could be reusable ones which could be bought online or at stores.

No new cases today

It's now been 97 days since a case of community transmission and there are no new cases today, Bloomfield said.

There are now 23 active case after one person recovered in the past 24 hours.

Just over 5000 tests were processed yesterday.

Bloomfield said it was encouraging to see the rise in testing numbers and repeated how important it was for people to get tested if needed.

The pop-up centre in Queenstown had more than 1000 people show up in one day. In total, 1076 swabs were taken and all but seven have been processed - all were negative.

The seven yet to be processed were labelled incorrectly which is why they're taking longer to process, said Bloomfield.

There will be more pop-up testing clinics around the country for people who want to be tested - they do not need to be symptomatic.

Hipkins said he was "very heartened" by the current testing numbers and he was "much more comfortable".

But there was still more work to be done in testing at the border, he said.

Anyone working at the border can be tested and there is a pop-up testing site at Auckland Aiport this week.

CovidCard trial

The Government is trialling the CovidCard in Rotorua with about 250-300 people to help with contact tracing. The CovidCard is on a lanyard.

The cards could be deployed later this year, but ministers say at this point they're not anticipating making them mandatory.

Minister of Government Digital Services Kris Faafoi said the trial would help researchers understand how the cards would work "in the real world".

An earlier trial conducted in May by the University of Otago in conjunction with the Nelson Marlborough DHB found the CovidCard worked under controlled conditions "so we believe there is merit in exploring it further".



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