This story originally appeared on RNZ and is republished with permission
There are seven new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today, six of them in the community, Director of Public Health Caroline McElnay says.
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Dr McElnay says one case is an imported case, a woman in her 20s who tested positive in Christchurch in managed isolation on day three of her stay.
The other six cases have all been linked to the current cluster, one via a workplace and the others are household contacts.
She says 2455 close cases have been identified, 2404 of these have been contacted.
Some 10 people are in hospital, 8 are on a ward, two people are in ICU, while 15 people are considered to have recovered, bringing active cases in New Zealand down to 126.
Dr McElnay says 9257 tests were processed yesterday.
The Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship church cluster now has eight cases, she says, and three of those have been genomically linked to the main Auckland cluster.
She says the investigation into the church services and wedding is an ongoing part of the investigation into the source of the outbreak. All of the eight cases reported are close contacts to each other.
Anyone who attended the events mentioned yesterday at the church should seek a test, anyone with symptoms who attended should contact Healthline.
Dr McElnay says a lot of testing around the cluster is trying to identify the source of the cluster, but as yet it has not been found.
There are only a small number of people who can’t be linked epidemiologically to the big cluster, Dr McElnay says.
- If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP – don’t show up at a medical centre
More guidelines on mask wearing
Health Minister Chris Hipkins says a new order will be signed this afternoon to set out how mandatory face masks on public transport and ride shares will work in practice.
He says face coverings do not need to be worn on school buses, chartered buses or inter island ferries.
They also do not need to be worn by passengers in taxis or rideshare services, but drivers will need to wear masks, he says.
Drivers are not obliged to deny people entry as some people will have a legitimate reason for not wearing a mask, he says, and the minor public health gain from wearing masks in taxis and ride shares does not offset the difficulty to enforce.
People with a disability will not need to wear a mask, neither will people aged under 12. Hipkins says wear a face mask just as if you would wear a seltbelt.
Police will not stop people coming on and off buses to make sure they’re wearing a mask. “We are asking for good will,” he says.
He says in the early stages people need to be kind and cooperative.
A further three million masks will be released into public stock, he says.
Pacific community ‘incredibly helpful’
Hipkins says there’s no plan to review the decision to move Auckland to level 2.
He says Māori and Pacific people are involved in contact tracing.
“The Pacific community have been incredibly helpful,” says Hipkins, “They’re saying yes to the test in far greater numbers than others.”
There is asymptomatic testing among close contacts, he says, but “not everybody across Auckland should run and get a test if they’re asymptomatic.”
Dr McElnay says there were not many cases in Pacific communities during the previous outbreak.
“The support from the Pacific community has been tremendous,” she says.
She says people are more vulnerable when they have close living situations.
Hipkins says he will be meeting with Air New Zealand this afternoon, which today reported a loss. He said the government doesn’t want to end up with no airlines flying in and out of the country.
“There are good protections in place now but we’re looking at how we can make them better.”
The Roche report into contact tracing is being released today, he says. There are now about 1500 people using the national contact tracing centre for the purpose of contract testing.
Over recent weeks the NZ Covid Tracer app has been improved, he says, and trials for bloothtooth technology are under way.
“Overall I am very encouraged by the way our contract tracing is working around this current cluster.”
There are now about 1500 people using the national contact tracing centre for the purpose of contract testing.
Hipkins says it could be another week to 10 days before case numbers drop back down.
There are a couple of events that may have added significantly to the overall cases numbers, he says.
We don’t need to hit zero cases before we move down a level, he says, but the cluster needs to be contained.
Yesterday there were five new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, three cases in the community and two in managed isolation.
Director of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield called for people who had attended the Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship to isolate and seek a Covid-19 test after five people associated with the church had tested positive.
Pop-up Covid-19 stations will be moved around Auckland this week in a bid to ramp up testing.
Health Minister Chris Hipkins announced QR codes will become mandatory on public transport from 11.59pm on Thursday 3 September.