Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for August 20, with Stewart Sowman-Lund. Want to get in touch? I’m on firstname.lastname@example.org
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What you need to know
- Entire country to remain in level four lockdown until midnight Tuesday.
- There are now 31 confirmed community cases of Covid-19 – 11 more than yesterday.
- Of these, 28 are in Auckland and three are in Wellington.
- 12 cases cannot be definitively linked to the rest of the cluster and are “under investigation”.
- Genomic testing has linked the community cases and an individual in managed isolation who stayed in the Crowne Plaza.
- The Covid-positive Air NZ crew member has now been confirmed as an unrelated border-related case.
6.30pm: First Wellington location of interest
The Ministry of Health has released the first location of interest related to the three people named earlier today based in the city who have tested positive in the delta outbreak. It’s One Sushi in Porirua, at 10 Serlby Place, on Tuesday August 17 from 6.15 pm to 6.30 pm.
5.00pm: Helen Clark pays tribute to Sir Michael Cullen
The former prime minister has just sent across the following tribute to her former deputy PM and friend, who has died aged 76.
“It is with profound sadness that I received the news that Michael Cullen passed away late last evening. My heart goes out to Michael’s wife Anne, his children, and his wider family at this sad time. Michael’s death leaves a huge gap in their lives, and in our country’s life given the very substantial contribution which Michael made to it.
“I worked closely with Michael for 40 years. We both entered parliament in 1981, and had known each other from the mid-1970s as young Labour Party activists. Michael was an utterly dependable deputy prime minister and minister of finance. One could throw any big and knotty policy challenge at him – there were many of those, and he would find a solution for it. Our government was indebted to his courage, determination, insights, and brilliance.
“Michael had a deep commitment to social democratic values. He came from humble origins which he never forgot and about which he wrote movingly in his autobiography. He was deeply committed to making New Zealand a place of which everyone could feel proud and in which each could feel that they had a personal stake.
“Many have noted Michael’s big picture and enduring initiatives like the New Zealand Superannuation Fund and Kiwisaver. His legacy, though, goes far beyond those. He was the minister of finance who made it possible to establish Working for Families which reduced inequality in New Zealand for the first time in decades. He made the finance available for interest-free student loans, 20-hours-free early childhood education for three- and four-year-olds, more affordable primary health care for many, and the establishment of Kiwibank. He made it possible to buy back Air New Zealand and KiwiRail from private ownership when each was in dire straits, and to invest the capital to make them viable parts of New Zealand’s transport infrastructure. He made the funding available for major purchases of land for the conservation estate, such as that of St James Station’s 78,196 hectares near Hanmer Springs. The funding package which he provided to me as minister for arts, culture and heritage was a huge boost to that sector. Ministers of finance can be a help or a hindrance to big policy moves – Michael was certainly the former. He always saw the big picture.
“When people remember Michael, they will remember the public face of a quick witted and clever man, capable of unleashing a sharp tongue, but fundamentally kind-hearted. Michael should also be remembered as a shy person who lived modestly and was humble about his achievements. The greatest tribute we can pay to Michael is that he made a difference for the better. If each of us did that, our world would be an immensely better place. May Michael rest in peace now.”
4.30pm: Almost 50,000 wage subsidy applications
As of 2pm today there were more than 47,000 applications from businesses and sole traders for the wage subsidy. To qualify, a business needs to have experienced, or expect, at least a 40% decline in revenue as a result of the alert level four move.
“We’ve increased the wage subsidy rates to reflect wage cost increases – $600 a week for each full-time worker (20 hours a week or more) and $359 a week for part-time workers retained,” said social development and employment minister Carmel Sepuloni in a statement. “We are encouraging employers and those self-employed to ensure the accuracy of the information they provide, as that will delay processing if it isn’t correct.”
More information on the scheme is here.
3.20pm: NZ to remain in lockdown until midnight Tuesday
New Zealand will remain in alert level four lockdown until 11.59pm on Tuesday night, the prime minister has announced. This decision will be reviewed by cabinet on Monday, when next steps will be decided upon.
Today’s lockdown extension will mean a full week at alert level four.
Speaking at parliament, Jacinda Ardern said the extension was necessary as we still don’t know the “full scale” of the delta outbreak. “While we are in a reasonable condition at day three, we believe it is too soon to draw any firm conclusions,” she said. “We now know that we are dealing with an outbreak that is not just isolated to Auckland.”
We need to remain vigilant, said Ardern, especially considering many contacts of confirmed cases have been isolating across the entire country.
Ardern added that it was still “early days” in the outbreak, but acknowledged the “good news” that the source of the outbreak had now been identified. It was positive, she said, that no random cases outside the cluster had been springing up.
As of 3.20pm, no locations of interest in Wellington had been identified despite three Covid-19 cases being confirmed in the capital. Bloomfield said these would be added shortly and would include several eateries, petrol stations and a workplace.
Asked why the lockdown was just extended for a further four days, Ardern said this was based on advice from health officials. “We believe we will be in a better decision to make an assessment about all of New Zealand with that full seven days,” said Ardern.
“When you are a hotspot that does lend itself to being extra cautious,” she said of Auckland. The PM would not speculate about whether lockdown would be extended again, but hinted that Auckland – as the epicentre of this outbreak – may require a longer time in level four.
“This is no time to be complacent,” said Ardern. “We do have Covid outside Auckland. It may well pop up in other parts of the country in coming days. The last thing we want is to further spread the virus during lockdown, because that only runs the risk of prolonging it.”
Asked about the long waits for testing, Bloomfield said the demand was unprecedented, and “the DHBs are really ramping up the testing to meet that … We’re continuing to increase the capacity and working with the DHBs to see what else we can do to support that.”
There was no information, yet, on how many contacts of confirmed Covid cases had returned to the South Island, said Ardern. Her understanding was that contacts were dotted throughout the country.
Bloomfield was asked whether he had given advice to extend the lockdown until August 31. He said: “My advice was that the lockdown extend right across the country through to Tuesday next week, and my view was that Auckland, plus or minus the Coromandel, would need to be extended beyond that, based on the data we have at the moment.”
The PM was quick to jump in, adding: “You’ve already heard me indicate, given Auckland is a hot spot, we’re likely to need a little a bit more time there. It’s difficult to say how long at this stage.”
What prompted the decision to extend lockdown?
The prime minister said the country was in a “reasonable position” at this stage of the outbreak. However, she identified four criteria for the decision to extend the lockdown till midnight Tuesday across the country.
- There is a large number of contacts, and it is not yet known how widely the virus might be spread among them. This includes people who may not return a positive test immediately after infection.
- The locations include risky sites such as bars, schools, church services.
- Cases outside Auckland have emerged.
- Because lockdown is only on day three, the infectious period still reaches back into the period before alert level four began.
3.10pm: Will lockdown be extended? Ardern and Bloomfield speak as case numbers grow to 31
Jacinda Ardern is about to reveal a decision on the ongoing nationwide lockdown. Before her address, the PM was close to tears while speaking of the death of former deputy prime minister Michael Cullen. The long-serving Labour MP died at the age of 76.
With the additional 11 Covid cases confirmed today, including three in Wellington, some sort of extension for at least the North Island seems almost inevitable. Media reports claim that the entire country will remain in lockdown until midnight Tuesday.
Bloomfield confirmed that a “small proportion” of contacts of confirmed cases are located outside Auckland, including in the South Island.
2.40pm: Latest on Covid-positive Wellington trio
Wellington’s mayor Andy Foster has revealed additional detail about the three Covid-19 cases confirmed in the capital.
It’s understood the trio were infected in Auckland after visiting a location of interest. They then travelled to Wellington, together, in a private vehicle.
Foster believed one person was dropped off in Johnsonville, before the other two travelled to Miramar on the other side of town.
At this stage, no locations of interest have been identified in the capital and the exact timeline of when they travelled has not been released.
2.10pm: Almost 1200 possible Covid contacts identified
As of 9am today, 1,189 potential contacts had been identified, said the ministry. “This number excludes contacts from large settings, such as Avondale College and the Central Auckland Church of Christ, which are still being assessed.”
Most of these contacts are in the Auckland and Waikato regions, with a proportion located in other areas throughout the rest of North Island and South Island. “As of 9am today, 642 contacts were in the Auckland and Waikato regions, 149 contacts were located throughout the rest of New Zealand, and the location of the remaining contacts is still being confirmed.”
The number of contacts is expected to increase.
Locations of interest
New possible exposure sites added by the Ministry of Health today include 11 dates for the Blockhouse Bay Christian Kindergarten, between August 3 and 17.
The latest locations are below and available on the ministry website here
2.00pm: Waitakere wastewater samples return positive Covid result
Wastewater testing of samples collected on Wednesday from the Waitakere area in Auckland have confirmed the presence of Covid-19. This follows detection in the sample from Tuesday.
There have been no unexpected detections to report outside the Auckland region, said the ministry.
Testing is in progress for a number of samples, most of which will be reported later today.
1.30pm: 11 new community cases, including three in Wellington; genomic testing links outbreak to MIQ
There are 11 new community cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, including three in Wellington.
In a statement, the Ministry of Health confirmed the three in Wellington had recently travelled to Auckland and visited a location of interest there.
Nineteen cases are now confirmed as part of the Auckland outbreak, with the remaining 12 under investigation to confirm the linkage to the outbreak. Initial assessment shows in most cases there is a plausible link. In total, there are 31 cases.
“All cases have or are being transferred safely to a managed isolation facility, under strict infection prevention and control procedures, including the use of full PPE,” said the Ministry.
Of the 11 new community cases reported today:
- One case is in a family bubble with a case reported yesterday;
- Two are in separate family bubbles with cases reported on Wednesday;
- Two are in a family bubble together.
“Public health officials are currently conducting interviews to establish how the new cases were infected and to determine further details of their movements. We will continue to release this information as it becomes available.”
Meanwhile, the international Air New Zealand crew member, reported yesterday, has now been confirmed as a border-related case, and not linked to the Auckland outbreak, based on the results of whole genome sequencing.
New genomic testing has confirmed a link between the community cases and a case in managed isolation who stayed in the Crowne Plaza. Whole genome sequencing has also linked three cases in a family bubble next door to that original MIQ case. “As a result, public health officials are now arranging further testing for those returnees who have now left, or due to depart, who were on the same floor,” said the ministry.
Preliminary results from the recent whole genome sequencing of 10 test results show that of the community cases sequenced to date, have been linked with the series of cases associated with case A – the 58-year-old tradesperson from Devonport.
Separately the Air New Zealand crew member has been linked to three other cases in managed isolation in a different facility. These four cases are not linked to the community cluster of cases and have a separate origin from overseas.
ESR has noted that these whole genome sequencing results are preliminary, and that additional analysis will be carried out before they are finally confirmed.
1.20pm: While we wait for the New Zealand case numbers…
Our Ministry of Health has not yet sent out today’s Covid-19 update – so in the meantime, some bleak news from across the ditch. New South Wales has recorded 644 new locally acquired cases of Covid-19.
Of these, just 134 can be linked to a known case or cluster and the source of infection for 508 cases is still under investigation.
NSW recorded 644 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm.
Of these locally acquired cases, 134 are linked to a known case or cluster – 107 are household contacts and 27 are close contacts – and the source of infection for 508 cases is under investigation. pic.twitter.com/cdIcVbmw2p
— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) August 20, 2021
And I promise, we’ll have the New Zealand figures as soon as we can.
12.55pm: PSA – the 1pm update is coming via press release
Just a little note for people getting ready to chuck on their TV at 1pm: today’s Covid-19 update will be coming via press release.
It’s expected to land in my inbox about 1pm, and we’ll have the full text of that statement for you as soon as I get it.
Ashley Bloomfield will be joining Jacinda Ardern at 3pm today with any further Covid-19 developments. It’s at this briefing that an update on our alert levels will be provided.
12.30pm: Hundreds of staff and patients to be tested at North Shore hospital after possible Covid exposure
Approximately 120 staff at Auckland’s North Shore Hospital may have had contact with a Covid-positive patient.
In a statement, the Northern Region Health Coordination Centre said at least 30 of those staffers had “direct contact” with the patient while the remainder were simply rostered on.
“These staff have been stood down and are following public health advice,” said a spokesperson. “Testing is being set up at the hospital for staff. We are working on plans with other DHBs to source staff from out of the region as required.”
Approximately 107 patients were in the affected areas at the same time as the positive patient. Of these, 29 remain admitted as inpatients and are being isolated and tested for Covid-19. Additionally, 78 have been discharged and are self-isolating at home and are being followed-up by public health officials.
Patients needing emergency care are being diverted from North Shore Hospital to other emergency departments across metro Auckland for now.
We’re expecting a fuller update from the Ministry of Health in about 25 minutes.
12.05pm: Covid-19 in Wellington? What we know so far
We’re expecting a press release from the Ministry of Health at 1pm detailing all the latest Covid-19 cases confirmed overnight. According to media speculation, we could be in for at least another 10 with the total number set to push past 30.
This morning, there has been rampant speculation that at least two Covid-19 cases are in the capital.
So far, we know:
- Several media outlets – including TVNZ, Newshub, RNZ, the Herald and Stuff – have reported of Covid in Wellington.
- It’s understood all the cases – of which there are at least two – are from the same family.
- According to one outlet, cases have been confirmed in both Miramar and Johnsonville. These are on opposite sides of the city.
- The Ministry of Health would not confirm the case(s) yet, directing media to its forthcoming 1pm update.
The Spinoff has not corroborated the above reports but they have now been reported by our five biggest media outlets.
Meanwhile, Act’s David Seymour has criticised the ministry for not confirming the Wellington cases. “The people of Wellington have a right to know,” he said in a tweet.
A great deal of frustration in Wellington that the Ministry of Health won’t confirm whether there’s a case in the city that’s being widely reported. Journalists are just trying to their jobs and the people of Wellington have a right to know. C’mon @minhealthnz
— David Seymour (@dbseymour) August 19, 2021
11.50am: Vaccine rollout almost back on track in Auckland
Just five community vaccination centres in Auckland remain closed today, following a brief pause in the rollout during the shift to level four.
In a statement, The Northern Region Health Coordination Centre said eight out of the thirteen centres were operating today. “The centres that are open include Manurewa, Ōtara, Henderson, Westgate, Mount Wellington, Auckland CBD, Albany and Tāmaki (Glen Innes).”
In addition: “Almost all general practices and all pharmacies” that provide jabs have resumed the rollout.
The centres that remain closed include Birkenhead, Epsom, Highbrook, Pukekohe and Takanini.
Meanwhile, The Spinoff has received reports of vaccinations continuing to be cancelled in Queenstown. “I was supposed to get jabbed tomorrow but this is cancelled and the first available appointment now is half September,” said a reader who reached out.
“Yesterday the Ministry of Health sent a cancellation email but this morning they sent a ‘reminder for the vaccination’. Apparently they forgot to turn off the reminder emails,” they said.
11.20am: Magazines allowed to publish under alert level four, after last lockdown saw industry collapse
Remember how last lockdown, there were severe restrictions on what print publications were actually able to go to print? It led, in part, to the collapse of the media industry and the decision by Bauer to pull out of the country.
See this, from March last year, by The Spinoff’s Duncan Greive. He wrote: “Publishers of magazines and community newspapers are reeling, after a ruling from their regulators at the Ministry of Culture and Heritage which has excluded non-daily print media from publishing through the level four lockdown.”
This time around, a set of updated guidelines for the print industry has been labelled a “breath of fresh air”.
NZ Geographic publisher James Frankham told The Spinoff that the Ministry of Culture and Heritage has responded to the “complexity of the sector” and focused instead on compliance with the government’s Public Health Order.
“For most magazines, activity falls easily into reporting, production and distribution. Field reporting must be strictly news production with all the adherent health and safety (and public health and safety) protocols. Few if any magazines will be reporting from the field,” Frankham said.
“Editorial production — like many businesses — has simply shifting to a work-from-home mode, for which magazines are already well adapted.”
The level of compliance goes further, Frankham explained. “Distribution must likewise be safe and compliant, using only certified supplier able to operate as essential businesses under alert level four. This includes printers, distributors, and freight. Complying with this is not particularly difficult as the supply chain is already low-contact or no-contact.”
So, where will you be able to buy these magazines if we remain in lockdown? Frankham confirmed that magazines will continue to be supplied directly to subscribers under alert level four along with essential businesses able to operate (e.g petrol stations and supermarkets). Bookstores will hold copies for later distribution.
“For New Zealand Geographic which is going to press today this is welcome relief. Like most Kiwis, we’re not looking for exceptions, just for clarity around compliance,” added Frankham.
10.10am: Ex-deputy PM Michael Cullen dies
Former deputy prime minister Michael Cullen has died, at the age of 76.
Cullen, who also served under Helen Clark’s leadership, had been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer in March last year. He retired from parliament in 2009.
In a statement shared by speaker of the house Trevor Mallard, it was confirmed a public memorial service for Cullen would be held in Tāneatua in due course. A private funeral will take place as soon as possible.
Along with a six year stint as deputy PM, Cullen served as deputy Labour leader for over a decade from 1996 to 2008. He also served as a minister of finance, tertiary education and as the attorney-general.
Cullen ‘one of the most influential figures’ in NZ politics – Jacinda Ardern
The prime minister has paid tribute to Michael Cullen, labelling him one of the most influential figures in New Zealand politics over the last 40 years. “Intelligent, funny and kind he left a significant legacy for the country,” said Jacinda Ardern.
“New Zealand is so much the richer, in every sense of the word, for Michael’s life. He gave his life to making this place better for everyone.
“He fought for social justice at every turn, understanding the need for balance and pragmatism at times, but always focused on the big picture and the long-term.
“We will miss him terribly, and we are sending all our love to Anne and his family. We are devastated, but know that our grief is only a fraction of that which they will feel at the loss of a husband and father.”
10.00am: Reports of Covid-19 in Wellington
There are unconfirmed reports of two Covid-19 cases in Wellington.
If true, this would be the first evidence of Covid-19 outside of Auckland during the current outbreak. However, it’s unclear where this information has come from.
While we haven’t independently corroborated the claim, similar reports have now been run by the NZ Herald, Stuff, Newshub and RNZ.
More specifically, RNZ has reported that it “understands there are two positive cases in eastern Wellington”. Stuff has claimed that the cases are from members of the same family, while Newshub has reported the pair live in Miramar.
A ministry spokesperson told the Herald: “The ministry doesn’t comment on speculation. We do comment on confirmed cases and these numbers are provided each day in our 1pm statement or press conference, or as soon as practicable.”
The next official update from the ministry will be at 1pm.
9.00am: Locations of interest – the latest
Locations of interest linked to the current Covid-19 outbreak have topped 120, with possible exposure events dating back to August 1. Yesterday alone, 79 new locations of interest were posted to the Ministry of Health website.
No new locations have been added overnight but, in case you haven’t been hurriedly refreshing the page like me, here is a brief recap of the latest.
- KFC Botany Downs (the second time this site has been linked to a possible outbreak)
- New World Green Bay; New World Mount Roskill; Countdown Botany Downs
- Dressmart Onehunga
- Bunnings Mount Roskill
- Icco Sake Bar, Morningside
- Westfield Albany (and a number of stores within) and LynnMall
The full list is available here and will continue to be updated
8.20am: NZ Post worker tests positive for Covid-19
A New Zealand Post worker has tested positive for Covid-19, the company has revealed. It’s not yet known whether this is a case that’s already been identified – and thus already in our 22 case tally – or a new case that will be announced at 1pm.
According to Newshub, NZ Post’s chief operating officer Brendon Main said the team member was last at work on Monday. They then fell sick and have not been at work since.
“We are working with the Ministry of Health to immediately contact those who are considered close contacts, and any person who worked on the same shift nearby this case are in isolation and will be tested,” Main said.
8.05am: The Bulletin – Decision day on whether to extend lockdown
Today’s top story from The Bulletin, by Justin Giovannetti:
The missing link. A sigh of relief ran through the Beehive yesterday when genomic testing connected Auckland’s delta cluster to the border. This outbreak might be smaller and more contained than originally feared. However, there’s a substantial risk the virus might have spread at over 100 locations of interest identified so far in the country’s largest city.
This is news we all wanted. The parameters of this outbreak are becoming clearer. A returnee from Sydney, travelling on a red zone flight, arrived in managed isolation on August 7. Two days later they tested positive. Teams are now attempting to link the returnee to the rest of the cluster, while tracers are focused on containing the remaining cases and their contacts. One News reports the Crowne Plaza is being combed for clues.
The scale of the outbreak is still significant. As the prime minister told the nation yesterday, the development provides “some optimism and a strong serving of caution”. While this is still a working theory until a firm link is proven, it’s certainly a good one. The NZ Herald reported that the limited timeframe of the outbreak and the massive number of locations where infected people might have been, roughly cancel each other out.
Thousands of contacts will need to be tested. The combined roll of Avondale College, Northcote College and Lynfield College, all of which have been linked to a positive case, is more than 5,700. Hundreds more will be linked to restaurants, churches and SkyCity casino.
In breaking news this morning. Patients needing emergency care are being diverted from North Shore hospital after a positive case received treatment there before being diagnosed. The short stay surgical unit has also been closed. The person could have been infectious at the time. Keep in mind, the period from infection to infectious with delta can be only 24 to 48 hours.
Where to next? Cabinet will meet this afternoon at 1pm and a decision on whether the lockdown outside Auckland is extended will be announced around 3pm. Owing to the infectious nature of the delta variant, the government has felt vindicated by the snap lockdown so far. “Level four is where New Zealand needs to be at the moment,” Jacinda Ardern said yesterday. The prime minister has previously indicated that any move down the alert levels would incremental. RNZ expects an extension.
Could the south island open up? It’s possible, reports Stuff, but there could be contacts from the Auckland cluster who have headed south. Some experts, like Nick Wilson, are calling for the country to be split into large regions that would be cut off from each other, with the land border heavily policed to stop people from moving between zones. The upside being that some regions could open earlier.
The vaccination programme is now open to children. In a move detailed in The Spinoff’s live updates, children’s commissioner Andew Becroft has backed the government’s decision to open up vaccinations to the 12 to 15 year-old cohort. Medsafe already approved the change. People in this age bracket will be eligible for a vaccine from September 1, or parents and caregivers who are already booked for a dose can just bring their eligible children along. The message is clear: let’s just get this done. This adds 265,000 more people to the eligible group in a critical expansion of the vaccination programme.
The situation across the Tasman is worsening. New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian said that her state “is learning to live” with the virus, according to ABC. With 681 new cases yesterday, much of greater Sydney is under some form of lockdown. The state’s plan now is to try to vaccinate itself out of its current troubles. However, 61 people have already died in the delta outbreak.
When are you supposed to wear a mask? The country is in its third day of lockdown and mask use is compulsory while using an essential service. If you’re struggling to figure out where to wear a mask, the general advice is: Going outside? Wear a mask, according to Newshub. However, in a welcome moment of levity, the prime minister explained that masks aren’t essential while people are running. “Engaging in a very strenuous run while wearing a mask might become difficult, I couldn’t speak to personal experience,” she said.
Is it time to rethink the country’s strategy? Thomas Coughlan (paywalled) argues in the NZ Herald that it isn’t clear anymore whether hard lockdowns and a slow vaccine drive are a workable plan. The situation in Sydney, with expanding case numbers despite a lockdown, has raised questions about whether delta spreads too quickly to be confined. New Zealand’s vaccine programme has been painfully slow, but seemed to be finally picking up steam when this outbreak arrived, with a record 55,000 doses administered the day before we went into lockdown.
7.50am: The day ahead – lockdown decision looming
Today’s a big one: not only will we learn the details of any new Covid-19 cases – including further information about the recently confirmed 22nd case – but the country will learn whether or not we leave lockdown. Of course, lockdown continuing in Auckland and Coromandel is almost guaranteed (the PM said on Tuesday night that she expected level four would continue there until next Tuesday).
Here’s today’s tentative agenda:
1pm: We can expect a press release from the Ministry of Health. We’re anticipating new Covid-19 cases to be announced after the total jumped to 22 this morning.
3pm: Jacinda Ardern and Ashley Bloomfield will reveal next steps in the lockdown and whether any parts of the country will move down alert levels.
7.00am: North Shore hospital ‘diverting patients’ after treating 22nd Covid case
The Auckland Covid-19 outbreak has grown by one overnight, with 22 cases now confirmed. More are expected in the day ahead.
The new case is a “young man” currently being cared for at Waitakere Hospital, but who had been at North Shore hospital prior with an unrelated condition. Given the incubation period of the virus, the DHB said it “assumed that the person could have been infectious during the admission to North Shore Hospital”.
“The DHB has taken immediate action to close the North Shore Hospital Emergency Department and Short Stay Surgical Unit to new admissions. Diversions to other hospital emergency departments are in place as the DHB this morning contacts staff and patients who may have been exposed to Covid,” said a statement from the Ministry of Health.
Affected staff will be stood down and advised to follow public health advice, said the ministry, and potentially exposed current patients will be notified and isolated as well as tested in the hospital. “Patients already discharged will be followed-up by public health officials.”
Speaking on RNZ, associate health minister Ayesha Verrall said further details about the case will be available at the 1pm briefing. It’s too soon, Verrall said, to confirm whether this new case has a direct link with the growing cluster.
Meanwhile, cabinet will today decide whether or not the lockdown will continue beyond the three day period, or seven days for Auckland and Coromandel. Bringing the rest of the country out of lockdown would depend on the “degree of confidence” that there is not undetected transmission, Verrall said.
Last night brought news that students at two Auckland schools have tested positive. The combined roll of Avondale College, Northcote College and Lynfield College – the three schools linked to the outbreak – is more than 5700 students.
- The number of Covid-19 cases in the Auckland community has risen to 21.
- Two of the community cases are in North Shore Hospital.
- The source of the outbreak is believed to be a Sydney returnee who spent time in MIQ.
- There are now more than 100 locations of interest.
- The Pfizer jab will be made available for children aged 12 to 15.