There are seven new cases of Covid-19 today, director general of health Ashley Bloomfield has revealed.
All are in the community – there are no cases in managed isolation. Six cases are linked to the Auckland cluster and one case is being investigated.
That is in addition to the case being investigated yesterday. Bloomfield was confident both cases were linked to the cluster.
There are 56 active cases in New Zealand, of which 37 are in the community.
Some 1090 close contacts linked to the cluster have been identified – 934 have been contacted so far – and 86 per cent of close contacts have been contacted.
The two Tokoroa cases have been transferred to Auckland and their families are in isolation.
All residents of the Morrinsville rest home have all also returned negative results.
So far, 1.6 million mask have been dispatched across community groups.
There have been 100 requests for people to leave Auckland’s borders – 45 have been confirmed, Bloomfield said.
The Government is working with officials from Japan and Belgium, in terms of two now-Covid-19 positive people who had been in New Zealand.
Bloomfield said both people were “low risk”.
He thanked everyone who had come forward to be tested.
But he said there had been reports of online abuse, directed towards those who had tested positive for Covid-19.
“To say that’s a pity is an understatement.”
Health Minister Chris Hipkins said the abuse was “disappointing and dangerous”.
He said people need to be able to come forward for testing without worrying about online abuse.
Hipkins warned people not to believe everything they read on social media. This comes as rumours circulate online about where the Auckland cluster originated.
He said the 1pm information was designed to give people the most complete picture as possible.
Talking about misinformation and speculation rife on social media, he said there would be much more public concern if test results were published in real time.
“My advice to everyone is, if you hear it here at 1pm, it’s true.”
Asked about compliance in Auckland, Hipkins pleaded with people to obey the rules.
“We all want to be out of level 3 as quick as we can.”
He called on people to maintain social distancing and continue good hygiene practices.
Hipkins said there had been no positive tests at the border in the past few days.
He said by Monday, all frontline staff would have been tested.
Some far, 583 staff in isolation, 980 airport staff and 270 maritime staff have been tested.
There were 23,000 tests yesterday – that’s 49,700 tests since Tuesday.
Bloomfield said he was “not fed up” of receiving misleading information from officials.
He talked up New Zealand’s testing abilities.
He said he would have liked testing to be rolled out faster than it has, when it came to the Jet Park Hotel.
Hipkins said the “testing is a back stop” and prevention work was the main focus.
Hipkins said he “absolutely accepts responsibility” for the lack of testing at the border facilities, but he stopped short of apologising.
He thanked everyone involved in the testing process.
He said some tests might take up to 48 hours to be tested because of the volume of testing. He asked people to be patient as they await their test results.
On the testing of Jet Park employees, Hipkins said the focus was on responding to the outbreak.
“That is what we want everyone focused on.”
“We make every effort to verify that information,” he said, of testing of frontline staff.
He said he was not aware of reports that a fire alarm had gone off at the Jet Park hotel. But he said he would look into it.
Bloomfield said there were protocols in place to ensure people don’t mix.
He said there had been testing at the Americold cold store today.
In this outbreak, most people with Covid-19 are of Pacific and Māori descent. Hipkins said “everybody will be treated the same”.
Bloomfield said local iwi had been working with the Tokoroa cases.
The vast majority of transmission happened in households, Bloomfield said.
He added the Government was doing all it could to support families.
In terms of the one “likely” linked case today, Bloomfield said the information arrived quite late today so officials could not yet definitively say it was linked to the Auckland cluster.
But Bloomfield was pretty sure it was linked.
On face mask price gouging, Hipkins called on people to report that behaviour.
Auckland University Vice-Chancellor Professor Dawn Freshwater this morning confirmed a student at the University of Auckland had tested positive for Covid-19.
Asked about the case this morning, Hipkins said there would be people in the community who know about cases before the 1pm briefing.
But he said the press conferences were “the authoritative message” on new Covid-19 cases.
There were 12 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the community yesterday and one probable.
Last night, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Auckland would remain in level 3 lockdown for an additional 12 days.
The plan is still to eliminate the virus and Ardern says she is confident the new measures will help with that goal.
She revealed the new outbreak was a strain of Covid-19 not seen in New Zealand before.
Officials are still searching for the origins of the case.
Hipkins said this morning there was no “clear link” the new outbreak was linked to managed isolation or quarantine facilities.
But what is now known is the new strain is “most likely to have originated in Australia or the UK”.
“But at this point, we still don’t know how this cluster came into contact with Covid-19 in the first place.”
He said police had secured the Americold cool store in Auckland’s Mt Wellington so there was no contamination when it came to testing.
Officials are investigating whether the virus came arrived on cargo through New Zealand’s ports.