• There are 12 new confirmed cases, including two in Tokoroa. They are all connected.
• There is no need to stockpile medicines. The supply chain has not been affected.
• There have been reports of verbal and physical abuse of healthcare workers.
• The “majority” of border workers will be tested by the end of the day.

There are 12 new confirmed cases of Covid in the community and one probable case, director general of health Ashley Bloomfield says.

One of the 13 cases is in hospital. All of the new cases are linked to the existing cluster, though one – the person in Auckland Hospital – is still under investigation but it is not yet cause for concern.

There are 30 active cases connected to the recent outbreak.

Bloomfield started today’s briefing reminding New Zealanders: “The problem is the virus, it is not people – people are the solution.

There is no blame or stigma attached to anyone having Covid-19 and we should treat each other how we would want to be treated – with dignity and respect.”

Two of the new confirmed cases are in Tokoroa and are close contacts of one of the Auckland cases who which first tested positive this week.

The trip to Tokoroa also included a visit to a Morrinsville rest home – which was reported yesterday. The resident they visited has since returned a negative test and all other residents and staff have been tested.

“The visit occurred while they were feeling well and before they were aware of any potential exposure or they were infectious.”

Bloomfield said the cases were rapidly isolated and contact traced.

Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield gave the latest update at 1pm today. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield gave the latest update at 1pm today. Photo / Mark Mitchell

A bespoke quarantine facility is being set up for the wider whānau of the two Tokoroa cases to help limit the spread.

And in Auckland, 38 people have now moved into quarantine at the Jetpark Hotel.

Hipkins said health advice is the risk remains low in the Waikato region because the cases could be “clearly linked” to the Auckland cluster and “we got in and we got in early”.

The national tracing service has 771 close contacts identified and have contacted 514 as at 10am. The ministry is asking anyone who is called by a contact tracer to “please take the call”.

Another 386,000 people have now downloaded the Covid Tracer app, bringing the total number of downloads to almost 1.2 million – almost one in five New Zealanders.

Details of today’s new cases


School’s shock at virus link

Bloomfield said Mt Albert Grammar, Taeaofou i Puaseisei Preschool, Glamorgan School in Torbay and Auckland’s Southern Cross Campus were closed after confirmed cases were linked to them.

Bloomfield also wrongly said that Pakuranga College was closed and was linked to a new case.

Pakuranga College principal Mike Williams was later told that it does not have a Covid-19 case at the school despite the announcement.

He said the error caused “huge stress in our community” and left him with no confidence in the health system.

“If that’s how their system is, it’s no wonder we’ve got Covid,” he said.

“It doesn’t give you any confidence, does it? Can you have confidence in the Ministry of Health any more? No.”

Williams said he did not know whether Bloomfield confused Pakuranga College with another school or not.

“The Ministry of Health system must be really bad, or he can’t pronounce Māori words properly, I’m not sure,” Williams said.

Williams was in a Zoom meeting when Bloomfield mentioned the college in his 1pm press conference, and his phone and emails “started going off”.

“Even my DPs [deputy principals] were asking, ‘why didn’t you tell us?’ I said I would have if I’d known!”

‘A good picture’

Bloomfield said while he was never pleased to see another case, it was good to see they could be traced back to the original family.

“I think we’re getting an increasingly good picture … and the picture we’re getting is a very good one.”

Bloomfield said the index case – where the infection originally came from – “is still a piece of the puzzle we’re looking to fill”.

Yesterday a record-breaking 15,703 tests were processed, bringing the total number processed since the in the last 48 hours to almost 26,000.

“We’ve seen no evidence of a Covid-19 case outside of Auckland that is unrelated to the cluster that we are dealing with,” said Health Minister Chris Hipkins.

“This is good news.”

Tests from Auckland are being prioritised and there is some pool testing for large batches unlikely to have a positive result.

Bloomfield was not aware of any other large events – besides schools and the previously reported church service in Māngere East – which a positive case had attended.

He said there was “very good evidence this hasn’t been lurking in the community”.

Key messages for Auckland

If you have anything to do with these locations, you should get a test:

• The Ports of Auckland.
• Americold.
• Finance Now.

Anyone who was at one of the locations in Rotorua or Taupō at the same time as the Auckland family and now has symptoms should also get a test.

Hipkins said if you are not unwell, you should not try and get a test because that will slow down testing of priority people.

“If you are well and you are seeking a test you could be preventing someone we need to get tested getting that test. We completely understand that people are feeling anxious but this is our plea to Aucklanders over the next couple of days.

“If you are well, if you are not a border worker or you’re not employed in an MIQ facility, if you’re not an identified close contact or have come into contact with a known positive case and if you’re not showing any symptoms please do not come to a CBAC because it’s slowing down these priority groups,” Hipkins said.

Other New Zealanders should remain vigilant, wash their hands, stay home if you’re unwell and to call Healthline or your GP if you have any doubts.

Testing of border workers

It is now compulsory for frontline border workers to be tested, Hipkins said.

“Compulsory testing is quite a big lever to pull. I think the Government exercises a great deal of caution when making it compulsory for someone undergo a medical procedure.”

The Government has been under fire this morning for the lack of testing of the 6000-7000 workers at the border of in managed isolation or quarantine (MIQ) facilities.

Despite weeks of requests, the Ministry of Health has been unable to provide data about the testing of these workers.

Newshub reported last night that, according to its own calculations, about two-thirds of those working at the border in Auckland haven’t been tested at all.

Hipkins said today the Government expected the majority of customer-facing border workers tested by the end of the day. Testing so far has included:

• 100 of the 141 customs staff.
• About 37 of the 50 MPI staff.
• All Immigration NZ staff at Auckland Airport have been tested on site.
• Staff working night shifts have been tested at CBACS or GPs.
• 500 staff at the Ports of Auckland have been tested.
• 2459 people work in border hotels, of those 1435 have been tested.

Hipkins said not all border workers were at risk of coming into contact with the virus which was why not all had been tested.

Bloomfield said border workers were now being ordered to be tested because we’re in “an outbreak situation”.

Attacks on healthcare workers

Bloomfield said he’d had reports of healthcare workers being abused and attacked and that was unacceptable.

“Please remember that all healthcare workers are doing their best to help not just you, but all New Zealanders. I know how hard they’re working both in Auckland and around the country.”

Hipkins said this was a very difficult situation for people working on the frontlines, whether the police, health workers or those working the phone.

“Please be patient, please be kind, these people are working exceptionally hard to be providing New Zealanders with the service they deserve.”

He said under no situation was it acceptable for them to be attacked.

Bloomfield said from his experience as a health board chief executive he’d also experienced people verbally and physically abusing healthcare workers.

“It’s both inexplicable and completely unacceptable.”

Meanwhile, the chief executive of Pharmac told Bloomfield this morning some people were stockpiling medicines and he urged people not to do that as it might mean some people could go without.

Cabinet meeting

Bloomfield will soon give his advice to Cabinet on whether the alert level restrictions need to change. The current alert level 3 restrictions for Auckland and level 2 for the rest of New Zealand are set to expire at midnight tonight.

Cabinet is meeting at 3pm, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will announce its decision at 5.30pm today.

Cabinet will look at a number factors when it meets at 3pm, including the number of new cases, where they are, whether they can be connected to the existing cluster, and whether the source of infection has been found.

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters claimed last night the source was a breach at a quarantine facility, but Health Minister Chris Hipkins said this morning he was not aware of any evidence of that.

Cabinet will also consider at how compliant New Zealanders will be with lockdown rules, and the economic impact of further alert level restrictions.

The second wave

On Tuesday, the 102-day streak of no community transmission came to an end after four people in an Auckland family tested positive without any link to overseas travel.

Yesterday, the first results of the mass testing revealed that the cluster had 17 confirmed cases and one probable case, all linked to the family and all in Auckland.

A staffer at cool store facility Americold is among those at the centre of the outbreak.

This afternoon, the Herald revealed there were two new cases of Covid-19 at the coolstore, bringing Americold’s total cases to 13 while the Auckland cluster itself grows to 19.

The cluster’s travel history includes Rotorua, Taupō and Morrinsville.

Meanwhile, up to 300 people have been told to get tested urgently after a Covid-positive family attended the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa Māngere East Puaseisei on Sunday.

A preschooler at the Taeaofou i Puaseisei Preschool, opposite the church, has also tested positive. Many of the church’s youngest members attend the preschool also.

Also in Māngere East, a 6-year-old pupil at Southern Cross Campus tested positive, as did a student from the Manukau Institute of Technology.

The Covid risk also extended to Auckland’s North Shore last night after a student at Glamorgan School in Torbay tested positive, sending the school into lockdown.

Two Noel Leeming stores on the North Shore were also been told someone who tested positive had visited over the weekend.