New Zealand has 21 community cases but there is good news

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at the media conference today (Video Grab)

Wellington, August 19, 2021

The current cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand have been linked to an Australian case that was taken to Middlemore Hospital earlier this week.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield provided an update on the second day of the nationwide lockdown, saying that there are now 21 community cases.

Passenger from New South Wales

Ms Ardern said that the current positive cases have been linked via genome sequencing to a traveller who arrived from New South Wales on a managed red zone flight. That person returned a positive day one test on August 9, 2021 and was moved from the Crown Plaza Hotel to the Jet Park facility.

They were then transferred to Middlemore Hospital on August 16, 2021.

Ms Ardern said that the period in which cases were in the community was relatively short, but new information could change this conclusion.

She said that the primary lines of investigation are staff at the Crown Plaza, Jet Park facility and those involved at the time of their arrival and transport.

Middlemore Hospital is not part of the investigation.

Customs are investigating footage and identifying areas of interest and testing staff.

“Nothing has eventuated from this line of inquiry to date,” she said.

Staff at Jet Park and Crown Plaza are being retested.

Family tested positive

Ms Ardern said a family adjacent to the case at the Crown Plaza had now tested positive for Covid on their day 12 test.

“That means we are dealing with a high level of infectivity in this case.”

She said everyone at the Crown Plaza will stay on while the usual protocols were undertaken.

“While compliance across the managed isolation sites for vaccination had been very high, we will continue our search in a thorough way across both sites as you would expect,” Ms Ardern said and thanked the first positive case for getting tested.

“If it was not for you getting tested when you did, this could be a much more difficult situation. Having said that, we are prepared for cases to get worse before they get better. That is always the pattern in these outbreaks. But today, we believe that we have uncovered the piece of the puzzle we were seeking. That means our ability to circle the virus, lock it down, and stamp it out generally has greatly improved,” she said.

Cases now in quarantine

Dr Bloomfield said that all cases in the community are being transferred safely to a quarantine facility or are already there.

He said that 12 of the 21 cases have already been confirmed as being part of the same Auckland cluster. Eight other cases are currently under investigation.

“These new community cases are not unexpected, as the Prime Minister said, and we would expect the number of cases to continue to grow in particular because of the large number of locations of interest and the mobility of these cases over the few days before the lockdown started,” he said.

As of this morning, more than 360 individual contacts have been identified, although this does exclude contacts from large settings.

“Through the day-to-day, that number will increase significantly,” he said.

Complaints of gatherings

Dr Bloomfield said that officials are fielding a large number of complaints about people holding gatherings and they were being referred to Police.

Ms Ardern said that New Zealand is appropriately at Level 4.

She said that Ministers will meet tomorrow morning (August 20) to decide the lockdown level for the rest of the country outside Auckland and Coromandel.

About Lockdown Four
All of New Zealand is now at Covid-19 alert level 4. This will be reviewed after three days for all areas except Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula which are likely to remain at level 4 for an initial period of seven days.
A community case of Covid-19 has been identified.
Stay at home where possible and follow the Alert Level 4 guidelines. This will stop the spread of Covid-19 and save lives.
Everyone is asked to do the following:
Wear a mask and keep two metre distance from others whenever you leave your home.
If you are sick, call your doctor or Healthline on 0800-3585453 for advice about getting tested.
Keep scanning QR code at every place of visit
Practice good hygiene: wash hands often.
Services including supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics and petrol stations will stay open at Alert Level 4. Face coverings are mandatory for all people – both employees and customers – at businesses and services operating at Alert Level 4 involving customer contact.
For more information on Alert Level 4, visit www.covid19.govt.nz
-Published under a Special Agreement with www.rnz.co.nz

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