New Zealand has four new cases of Covid-19 in the community, all connected to the case discovered yesterday, which is confirmed as the highly transmissible Delta variant.
One of the new cases is a nurse at Auckland Hospital.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told RNZ’s Morning Report the health worker was fully vaccinated
“The health workforce are very well versed and mapping these issues and have done in the past.
We have had Covid-positive cases in our health workforce before. What’s different on this occasion is that we have this individual who is fully vaccinated.”
Ardern said the four new cases were the workmate of the 58-year-old Devonport man and the workmate’s close or household contacts.
“It confirms level 4 is the right decision,” Ardern said.
“These measures have worked before and they will work again.”
Auckland City Hospital has taken some immediate actions to shut down any potential spread.
This included unnecessary movements between wards, testing all staff and patients on the ward the health professional worked on and standing down, testing and isolating staff on the same ward.
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Ardern said testing may give more information about a potential source or connection to the border.
“Once we get genome information that then starts to help helping us to narrow down potential sources, but it’s not something I can provide further information on now, we will be looking to give an update at 1pm, if we can.”
Any decision on longer lockdowns would be affected by how widespread the infections are, she said.
“If we identify the source was potentially a case from some distance from where we’ve identified this community case, that then gives you a bit of an idea of how many others may be affected.
“Whether or not we’ve got potentially unknown cases that are further away from the eventual index when we find it – that will be the kind of information we’re looking for to make those decisions.”
The new cases were not necessarily surprising, she said, with previous variants not everyone a case was in contact with would become infected nor even all their household members but the likelihood of transmission of the Delta variant is much increased.
‘Tentative’ indication of border link
Epidemiologist Nick Wilson told Morning Report that the Auckland nurse being one of four new cases gave a tentative indication of a link between the outbreak and the border.
“It gives a possible link to the border in that we know that yesterday there was a person with Covid in a hospital, according to the Ministry of Health website.
“And in fact there have been occasional cases in recent months [of] people going to MIQ getting Covid quite seriously and having to go to hospital.
“So, it is possible that this hospital worker was infected through one of those cases being hospitalised from the border.
“That gives us a tentative idea of what may have happened but we absolutely need the genomic testing to clarify that and other investigations of course,” he said.
With the number of new cases announced this morning there was is an increased chance that the cases in the community were highly infectious, Wilson said.
“Some people will spread Covid quite a lot and others quite often not spread it to anyone else, so that is concerning that there are these other cases, but also somewhat reassuring that we have a potential link to the border here.”
Wilson said the government’s decision to move the entire country into level 4 lockdown was justified as any close contacts of the new cases would now be at home.
“This hard and early response is definitely very appropriate and the government is really making the right decisions on this. It’s going to increase the chance of successful control and we really want to avoid any situation like Sydney with a delayed response and ending up with a prolonged lockdown situation.”
This is an official COVID-19 ALERT.
All of New Zealand is now at Covid-19 alert level 4.
The alert level will be reviewed after 3 days for all areas EXCEPT Auckland & Coromandel Peninsula which is likely to remain at level 4 for an initial period of 7 days.
A community case of Covid-19 has been identified.
Stay at home where possible & follow the Alert Level 4 guidelines. This will stop the spread of COVID-19 and SAVE LIVES.
Everyone is asked to:
Wear a mask and keep a 2 metre distance from others whenever you leave your home.
If you are sick, call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice about getting tested.
Keep on scanning QR codes whenever you leave your home.
Practice good hygiene – wash hands often.
Services including supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics & petrol stations will stay open at Alert Level 4.
For more information on Alert Level 4 go to [the government website www.covid19.govt.nz]