New cases of Covid-19 dropped significantly today – down from a worrying 45 new cases yesterday to 19.
One of the new cases was outside Auckland – a secondary school student in Northern Hauraki who had been self-isolating for 10 days and tested positive after becoming symptomatic.
The government said it still had a broad control of the Delta outbreak.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said maintaining control was key while vaccination rates climbed.
“We simply do not have enough people vaccinated in Auckland or in New Zealand to tolerate a widespread outbreak but maintaining control is not a given,” she said.
“We still need the restrictions that we’re using, I know they’re incredibly hard and they will ease but for now they’re doing a job for us that’s why we need people to keep following them.”
Two new sub-clusters were identified in Auckland – the southeast Auckland cluster and the West Auckland cluster.
“It’s those two sub-clusters that are really giving rise to the new cases at the moment,” Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield told media this afternoon.
Of today’s cases, 16 were known household or other contacts, one was a household contact not previously identified and one was a possible contact.
“We’re expecting another 30 or so cases in the coming days from day five and day 12 testing,” Bloomfield said.
Ardern confirmed today the travel boundary around the Auckland region would remain, even if current alert-level 3 restrictions were eased. Cabinet is reviewing the country’s alert level settings on Monday.
Suburbs testing low
Only 7 percent of those living in Auckland’s suburbs of interest have been tested for Covid-19.
Henderson, Papakura, Clover Park, Māngere, Favona, Manurewa and Mt Wellington/Sylvia Park have been associated with unlinked cases and known clusters.
It was revealed today 12,974 residents from those suburbs of had been tested since last Monday – just 7 percent of the 183,729 people living in the areas.
Thousands of migrant workers stuck in visa limbo will soon have the chance to apply for fast-tracked residency.
The government gave details today of its one-off resident visa that could see about 110,000 people already in New Zealand apply.
Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi told Morning Report about 55,000 family members already here in New Zealand would be covered.
The one-off 2021 Resident Visa includes over 5000 health and aged care workers, around 9000 primary industry workers, and more than 800 teachers.
Faafoi said some construction and manufacturing workers would also be eligible.
The government confirmed it was considering buying MIQ hotels and converting them into quarantine facilities.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said commercial negotiations were underway, so he could not get into details. He said having facilities close to an airport and staff was crucial.
“Well there are a range of possibilities, including buying the Greenfield site,” he said.
“But there’s also the potential of converting other facilities and putting a significant amount of capital works into an existing facility for example, or a range of existing facilities, to move them to more of an ideal quarantine fit.”
Police border figures
As of 11.59pm yesterday 29 September, a total of 368,079 vehicles had now been stopped at the checkpoints on Auckland’s northern and southern boundaries, with a total of 6039 vehicles having been turned around.
Police said there were 23,060 vehicles processed at the checkpoints yesterday, with 270 of those vehicles were turned around.
Police had also received 1257 online breach notifications relating to businesses, mass gatherings or people in Tāmaki Makaurau and Upper Hauraki.
Hurricanes player apologies
Hurricanes loose forward and Wellington rugby captain Du’Plessis Kirifi today apologised after being caught hosting a party during the alert-level 4 lockdown. He said he had learned a valuable lesson.
Kirifi, 24, and partner Mila Reuelu-Buchanan, a Northern Stars netballer, were fined by police for hosting and attending parties.
Kirifi conceded it was a foolish decision to host the gathering at their Porirua property. He and his partner also attended a gathering in Titahi Bay.
Road spikes stop fleeing driver
Police revealed today officers used road spikes and an Eagle helicopter to catch a driver who fled a police checkpoint at the Auckland border yesterday.
Police say the man was turned around at a checkpoint south of Auckland for not having proof he was allowed to travel and no evidence of a recent Covid-19 test.
A police Eagle helicopter monitored the vehicle and it was eventually stopped by road spikes about 50KM away near Puriri in the Hauraki Plains. The driver was arrested.
Concerns increase over Māori vaccination rates
Māori health advocates voiced their increasing concerns today about the growing number of Covid-19 cases among Māori.
Of the number of people with active cases in Auckland, 39 percent are Māori.
National Māori Pandemic Group co-leader Sue Crengle said, with that community particularly vulnerable, the figures were worrying.
She said it was important barriers were removed for Māori health providers to lead the response.
Pacific Music Awards online
The Pacific Music Awards will be held online instead of being a live event in Auckland due to Covid-19 restrictions. Tagata Pasifika will screen the awards on 6 November.
Pacific Music Awards Trust spokesperson, Reverend Mua Strickson-Pua, said decision was made with the wellbeing of communities in mind.