There are 13 new Covid cases in Auckland and they all will now go into quarantine.
All of the 13 cases are linked to the original four confirmed cases from the new outbreak in South Auckland. The new cases include children. One is a girl aged one to four while the other is a boy between the ages of five and nine. Another girl who tested positive is aged between 10 and 14, while a teenage male (age from 15-19) is among the new cases.
Family members of confirmed cases may also be required to go into quarantine, director general of health Ashley Bloomfield says.
Bloomfield said they’d given moving confirmed cases into quarantine facilities “a lot of thought”. It would help prevent spread between family members and limit the spread in the community from people coming to visit.
It would “really strengthen our response”, he said.
Bloomfield said they were confident there was the capacity for those people and the Health Ministry was working with MBIE to ensure that.
There are now 17 active cases in the community. Nineteen other active cases are in managed isolation and are directly linked to the border.
Given all the new cases are linked, they’re being treated as clusters and Bloomfield said they “fully expected” more cases.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there wasn’t any evidence at this stage there was a “super spreader” event.
Bloomfield said he didn’t agree with the modelling which shows there could be between 25 and 100 cases and they were working backwards to find the source.
The earliest time the confirmed case had symptoms on July 31 which meant it could have been “several weeks ago” the first case was in the community, said Bloomfield.
Positive case visited aged-care centre
One of the people who’ve tested positive has visited an aged care facility in the Waikato which Bloomfield said he wouldn’t name yet as family members were still being notified.
The visit was when the person wasn’t displaying symptoms but they developed symptoms the next day.
All staff and residents in the unit will be tested.
Bloomfield said he didn’t think the Waikato needed to move into a higher alert level because it was clear the locus was in Auckland.
He said from last time, 95 per cent of cases happen in workplaces or households – not casual contacts.
Bloomfield said any pertinent information, such as travel updates, would be shared as and when needed not just at the 1pm press conferences.
One new case in managed isolation
In managed isolation there is one new case – a woman in her 30s who arrived from the Philippines.
That brings the total number of active cases to 36.
The new Covid cases in Auckland community
One of the cases is the Mt Albert Grammar School student who is a relative of one of the already confirmed cases.
The student wasn’t symptomatic at school so the chance of exposure by anyone in the school community is low, said Bloomfield.
But they should monitor their health and contact Healthline if needed.
Three of the cases are Americold employees and another seven are family members of these employees.
All staff across all sites are being tested.
The Americold surface swabs were done this morning and results will “hopefully” available later today, said Bloomfield.
But Ardern said the “most likely” scenario was a human-to-human spread but they wanted to rule other options out
Another case is an employee of Finance Now – they were admitted to North Shore Hospital but have since been discharged. One of their family members is another confirmed case.
All confirmed cases are now to be managed in a quarantine facility.
Ardern said the latest numbers showed the “seriousness of the situation” but said it was being dealt with an urgent, calm and methodical way.
She said we know a cluster “grows before it slows” and we should expect to see that happen again
Officials were still tracking down the source of the cluster – known as the index case.
Aucklanders should work from home when they can and only go out for essential items, and should wear a face covering if they do go out for exercise, food or a test.
If you are well and in good health, Ardern asked for people to “stay put” to not overwhelm testing sites.
For those businesses which can’t have people working from home and aren’t customer-facing, they should have the appropriate measures in place, said Ardern.
All businesses across New Zealand should put a QR code at their entrances before August 19 to avoid penalties.
There are 10 checkpoints are operating in Auckland and by 7am roughly 17,000 cars were stopped – 312 were turned back. Ardern said police were reporting attempts to travel to their baches.
Ardern acknowledged the anxiety felt by some New Zealanders at the pace of the response, but said the speed should act as some comfort that they were going hard and early.
There will be another 1pm update tomorrow and another after Cabinet meets to decide whether to extend alert levels.
Ardern said “while we’re in a heightened state of alert” she believed New Zealanders would understand why the restrictions were in place.
“I think they’ll understand and see why that’s necessary.”
Whether some parts of the country could move back to level 1 is one of the things Cabinet would consider tomorrow, she said.
Ardern said which businesses could be open in Auckland was “exactly, exactly the same” as last time and more information was on the Covid-19 website.
Anyone with reports of shops price-gouging masks should report it to the Government’s report line. Ardern said they were keeping a “very close eye” on it.
Ardern said about price-gouging: “We’re asking people not to try and capitalise on the situation that New Zealand finds itself in.”
She reminded New Zealanders they could fashion their face covering which was adequate.
Covid positive family went to Taupo as well as Rotorua
Testing is available for anyone who was in these places at the same time the confirmed cases visited in Rotorua:
• 3.30pm – They checked into the Wai Ora Hotel
• 8pm – They dined at the Herb and Spice restaurant
• 2.30pm – visited the Pak n Save
• 3.30pm – Heritage Farm
• 4pm – Skyline Gondola and luge
• 8am – made a day trip down to Taupo for a sailing trip and all other visitors and staff will be tested.
• 3pm – returned to Heritage Farm
• Had dinner at Burger Fuel then headed back home.
The Ministry of Health utilised the alert function on the Covid Tracer app for the first time to alert people who were recorded as being in the same location as the confirmed cases on their trip to Rotorua.
There have been about 986,000 downloads of the Covid Tracer app – which is up 338,000 in the last 48 hours.
The testing of staff at the border was “an adjunct” to the strict protocols in place at the hotels and the testing was another layer.
There are also measures and protocols at the maritime border and port workers in Auckland are being tested.
Ardern said for people queuing up for tests, it wasn’t the actual test which took time but getting people’s details so urged people to have their NHI numbers ready and said if anyone doesn’t know it, to get tested at their GP which will have that information.
Officials are considering “pool testing” but it was most effective in batches of low positive results, but they were looking at it for some parts of New Zealand.
Ardern on Covid conspiracies
Ardern said the conspiracy theories weren’t new, particularly that Covid-19 wasn’t real, but the global evidence was it was “very, very real”.
‘No blame or shame
Bloomfield said his priority was to make sure the virus didn’t take hold in communities.
He said there was no blame on anyone who had caught Covid-19.
“There is no blame or shame in having Covid-19 – the virus is the problem … people are the solution.”
He thanked people for being tested.
It’s important to note any positive case is isolated along with their families.
Today’s test results reveal the first trends from the push for mass testing, following the re-emergence of community transmission on Tuesday.
Bloomfield confirmed this morning a Mt Albert Grammar student in Auckland had tested positive – a person who was a close contact of the family whose members have tested positive.
He did not know if the student was one of the four probable cases announced yesterday.
He said some of the original family who had tested positive were in a quarantine facility but not all of them.
Cabinet ministers will meet tomorrow to decide whether Auckland might be eased into alert level 2, stay at level 3, or moved to full lockdown.
Tomorrow’s Cabinet decision on the future of the lockdown will depend on factors including the extent of the new Covid-19 outbreak, the containment of known chains of transmission, and whether the source of infection has been found.
Bloomfield would not say this morning how he thought the decision would go.
“We are getting all our information together so we can get the best possible advice. I feel confident we will have a lot more good information to inform a good decision,” he told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking.
Meanwhile, the Lakes District Health Board has released further information about where two people who tested positive for Covid-19 visited while in Rotorua, including the Fat Dog cafe on Sunday, August 9 between 1.30pm and 2.30pm and Burger Fuel Redwoods on August 10 between 7pm and 8pm.