There have been no new community cases of Covid-19 reported in New Zealand today, but there are two more possible cases at the Pullman Hotel.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield have provided an update on the situation in Auckland on the eve of the region’s anniversary weekend.
Watch the media conference here:
Hipkins said the lack of any new community cases meant there was no reason why any travel plans should change over the long weekend.
“The level of community testing with no new positive results in the community, so far, does provide reassurance at this point that people thinking about whether they or not they should be travelling in or around Auckland or Northland around the long weekend can do so.”
But Hipkins reiterated that people should be following the essential level 1 public health advice.
Dr Bloomfield urged people to continue using the Covid Tracer App and stay home if sick.
There have been 38,000 Covid-19 tests processed in the past week and that nearly 2 percent of Northland’s population had been tested for Covid-19.
Dr Bloomfield said locations of interest were always being updated on the Ministry’s website and anyone who was exposed to any of those locations should self-isolate and call Healthline. He said so far 262 people linked to those locations were isolating and have been tested.
There were no new cases of Covid-19 reported on Thursday, following the confirmation of two cases – a father and daughter – in Auckland on Wednesday. The other case, a 56-year-old Northland woman who tested positive on 26 January, was classified as recovered on Thursday.
Dr Bloomfield said the Northland case reported on Sunday has recovered. Their 11 close contacts have returned negative tests and their are no further exposure being identified at this safe, he said.
The close contacts who have come to the end of their isolation period will start being released from today.
The three cases were all contracted from a case in the Pullman Hotel, a managed isolation facility, in central Auckland. The case source was sent to a quarantine facility when they tested positive in the Pullman.
Of the 353 guests who left the Pullman Hotel during the targeted timeframe, 314 have returned negative tests. Health officials are following up the with remaining guests.
Hipkins saids ESR staff were doing environmental testing to assist the investigation into how the infection was transferred between guests. They have been on site all day and preliminary results from that should be available this evening or early tomorrow morning.
“We absolutely need to know exactly what might have been happening at the Pullman and what we might need to change.”
He said a number of changes have been made over the past month to managed isolation procedures and to procedures around incoming arrivals.
“And from tomorrow, all returnees will need to stay in their rooms after their day 12 test prior to their departure – that’s an interim step while we continue to investigate what happened at the Pullman.”
On Friday morning, epidemiologist Michael Baker told Morning Report the government should impose a week-long home quarantine for returnees once they have left managed isolation facilities to reduce the risk of community spread.
However, Marriette Dodd, a teacher who returned from the United Arab Emirates in June, said a week of home quarantine after leaving MIQ would be impossible for many new arrivals to organise, with some having nowhere suitable to isolate.
Advice from the Ministry of Health in regards to recent cases in community:
- The recent cases of Covid-19 in Auckland and Northland have been linked to Managed Isolation and Quarantine. There is no evidence so far that suggests community transmission.
- The locations visited by the recent cases can be found on the Ministry of Health website
- To help stamp out Covid-19, it’s important the right people isolate and get tested.
- If you were at the locations of interest at the times stated, you need to; isolate away from others, call Healthline 0800 358 5453 for advice on when and where to get tested, and remain isolated until you have a negative test result.
- If you were not at a location of interest at the stated times and you have no symptoms you do not need to be tested.
- If you were not at any of the locations of interest at the stated times, but you have symptoms, call Healthline for advice on 0800 358 5453
- If you are going to get tested, remember you may have to queue. Please take food and water and continue to be kind to each other and our public health team.
- Everyone should continue to scan QR codes using the COVID Tracer app and turn Bluetooth on to help stop the spread of Covid-19.