Vaccination numbers rise but lockdown level stays at Four

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South Seas Healthcare CEO Silao Vaisola-Sefo: 300 jabs every day (RNZ Photo by Rowan Quinn)

RNZ Wellington, August 20, 2021

All of New Zealand will remain at alert level 4 until at least Tuesday (August 24, 2021) midnight, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed.

The Cabinet will meet on Monday (August 23, 2021) to decide on the next move on the country’s alert levels.

Ms Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield provided an update on the country’s alert level situation at a media conference at 3pm.

New Zealand went into lockdown at 11.59pm on Tuesday (August 17, 2021). Auckland and Coromandel were initially set to be in level 4 for seven days, while the rest of the country was put into level 4 for three days.

There have now been 31 community cases of Covid-19 officially confirmed in Auckland and Wellington, with 11 new cases announced this afternoon.

Time to assess impact

The Prime Minister said that the delay in the opening until Tuesday means that there will be more time to assess how much of the country has been affected.

“We believe that we will be in a better position to make an assessment about all of New Zealand with that full seven days, granted Auckland is looking like it will have the challenge of being the primary site of this outbreak,” she said.

Ms Ardern said that the country was in a “reasonable position,” but it was still early days in the outbreak and it was too soon to draw any conclusions.

“We are still waiting on a large number of contacts to be tested. We just don’t quite know the full scale of this Delta outbreak. All in all this tells us we need to continue to be cautious. It is important to note that the cases at this point appear to be linked and there were not cases popping up where they were not expected,” she said.

Cases in Auckland, Wellington

A large number of locations also meant the country was likely dealing with more cases, and with cases confirmed in Wellington today, health authorities were now dealing with an outbreak that was not isolated to Auckland.

“It is much better to assure ourselves now than allowing the virus to spread easily,” she said.

She urged people to check locations of interest and if they have been there at the time they should get a test. However, she warned that if they were there earlier or later, a test was not necessary.

“Many people have been doing the right thing and have encountered long wait times at our testing stations. Please do remember you can also call your GP to see if they are testing. Contacts should stay home and isolate. Others should, under level 4, stay home with their bubble,” Ms Ardern said.

Mask mandatory

She reminded New Zealanders that anyone over 12 visiting an essential service was required to wear a face mask.

“We are also asking people to just wear a mask as they leave their home generally. Remember people have got the virus just by walking past someone. People should be washing their hands, scan, be kind and check in with friends and family. Following the rules to the letter does mean we can reconnect faster,” she said.

Ms Ardern said that the lockdown method was tried and true.

“Keep up the amazing work and everyone – and I mean everyone – needs to play their part.”

Dr Bloomfield said that testing rates across the country have been six to ten times the usual level, which should be maintained.

He said that 24,000 swabs done in one day in Auckland is 50% higher than the previous single-day record.

Yesterday (August 19, 2021), health authorities managed to link the current cases of the Delta variant in this country to a traveller who arrived from New South Wales and was taken to Middlemore Hospital earlier this week.

Vaccination clinics have resumed operating after a one day pause to get alert level 4 protocols in place, but one Auckland clinic said it was now doing half the number of vaccinations that it was prior to the lockdown.

-Published under a Special Agreement with www.rnz.co.nz

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