By RNZ News
New Zealand has 12 new community cases of covid-19 – all in Auckland and all connected to existing cases, the Director-General of Health has revealed.
There is also one new case in managed isolation.
Dr Ashley Bloomfield and Health Minister Chris Hipkins today gave the latest details on the outbreak and the government’s response.
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Dr Bloomfield said the 12 cases in the community were all Auckland based, and none had travelled outside the Auckland region recently.
He said from early investigations, all had a connection to the existing outbreak as close contacts of cases already reported.
Two of the new cases are household contacts of the case previously reported that is still under investigation – the doctor from Mt Wellington.
Three people are now in hospital. Two are in an Auckland City Hospital ward and one is in a Middlemore Hospital ward.
Child in managed isolation
One has previously been reported as already in hospital, one was admitted overnight from a quarantine facility and the other was a community case.
The one case in managed isolation is a child who arrived in New Zealand on August 3. They had been in isolation at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland, tested negative on day three of their stay and subsequently tested positive at a day 12 test. They have now been transferred to a quarantine facility.
Today’s coronavirus media briefing. Video: RNZ News
Dr Bloomfield said 66 people had been moved to managed isolation facilities, including 29 people who had tested positive. There were 69 active cases, 49 from the community and 20 imported.
He said 1536 close contacts had been identified from the community cluster – as of 10am today 1322 of those people have been contacted.
Health officials are working closely with two religious organisations in its contact tracing work. It is likely more information about these organisations will be released later today, Dr Bloomfield said.
One of the positive cases visited Toi Ohomai Institute of Technologies Tokoroa campus before they were feeling unwell on August 10-11.
The total number of confirmed cases is now 1271.
Testing system working at ‘top speed’
Hipkins said 23,680 tests were processed yesterday, and it was taking longer to get results than usual because of the high volume of demand.
He said the usual 24-hour turnaround is now 48 hours, but positive results were reported first, and high risk swabs headed to the front of the queue.
Hipkins said he was pleased with the speed and efficiency of testing staff.
“The system is working at top speed.”
There are now 1,374,200 users on the Covid tracer app.
Hipkins said travel in and out of Auckland remained very restricted, but police were seeing an increase in people trying to get in or out of Auckland.
As at 4pm yesterday, 50,468 vehicles had been stopped at checkpoints around Auckland. Of those, 676 were turned back. 428 of those were seeking to leave Auckland – the rest were trying to get into Auckland.
‘Cultural acceptance’ needed for masks
Talking about the legality of making masks compulsory to wear while in public, Hipkins said the main issue at the moment was a supply issue.
Five million masks have been released with three million going to community groups for those who can’t afford masks, while supermarkets are working to stock up on them.
“But look, here’s the reality, we could make it compulsory and spend a lot of time on enforcement, what we need here is a cultural acceptance among all New Zealanders, that if we’re encouraging you to wear a mask, we’re doing that for a reason.”
Hipkins said New Zealand was actively exploring all options for a vaccine, and making sure the country was “ready to go” when a vaccine is available.
“On the health end, we’re focused on being ready when a vaccine is available…”
There were seven new cases of covid-19 reported in the community in New Zealand yesterday, but no new cases to report from managed isolation.
This article is republished by the Pacific Media Centre under a partnership agreement with RNZ.