This story originally appeared on RNZ and is republished with permission
Seven new cases of Covid-19 have been reported in the community in New Zealand today, with all but one already linked to the cluster responsible for all the previous community cases.
Health Minister Chris Hipkins and Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield are providing today’s Covid-19 update.
Watch the briefing live here:
Dr Bloomfield said there were no new cases to report from managed isolation.
The one new case that remains under investigation is in addition to the one case yesterday that is being investigated.
“But in both cases we feel quite cofident that they will be linked to the outbreak.”
He said 54 people linked to the cluster have been moved to a quarantine facility, including 24 of the people who have tested positive.
The seven new cases reported today bring the total number of confirmed cases to 1258.
The number of active cases in NZ is 56, of which 37 are from the community outbreak and 19 are imported cases in quarantine.
The national contact tracing service has 1090 close contacts identified and 934 of those have been contacted by 10am this morning, Dr Bloomfield said.
Test results from the Kingswood rest home facility in Morrinsville that have been done so far have come back negative from all staff and residents.
Dr Bloomfield said the two people that have tested positive for Covid-19 in Tokoroa are being transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility and their whānau and close contacts are in self-isolation and they are receiving support.
On travel exemptions on the Auckland border, Dr Bloomfield said they had received more than 100 requests. All have been acknowledged and 45 have been approved.
Details about the exemptions are on the Ministry of Health website.
Dr Bloomfield said masks were now available out in the community.
Yesterday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that Auckland will remain in alert level 3 while the rest of the country remains at level 2.
The current alert levels will remain until 11.59pm on 26 August, but will be reviewed on 21 August.
Today epidemiologist Sir David Skegg told RNZ’s Kim Hill that New Zealand needs to dramatically improve its pandemic response if it is to avoid going in to lockdown every time there is an outbreak.
And Hipkins told Kim Hill that in reviewing the lockdown next week, they will be looking at the spread of the virus outside of Auckland, cases without a clear link to the existing cluster, and finding a likely source of the cluster.
They would also be looking at genome sequencing and results of testing on border staff, he said.