‘Don’t vilify covid cases’ warns PM as NZ reports nine more in community

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ... "It is those who shame others, those who seek to blame - they are the dangerous ones." Image: PMC screenshot

By RNZ News

New Zealand has today reported nine new cases of covid-19 in the community and two in the country’s managed isolation and quarantine facilities while Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has warned the nation against “vilifying those who have caught the virus”.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said there were eight people in hospital due to covid-19 – two in Auckland City, one in North Shore Hospital and five in Middlemore Hospital, including one in an intensive care unit (ICU).

An additional person in Waikato Hospital was hospitalised but not as a direct result of covid, Dr Bloomfield said.

READ MORE: Al Jazeera coronavirus live updates – France reports new post-lockdown record cases

Dr Bloomfield also confirmed that the St Lukes case had now been linked to larger cluster through genome tracing, and that the person may have been on the same bus with another case.

The possibility that the Rydges hotel maintenance worker caught the coronavirus from the lift was still being investigated.

One of the new imported cases is a female in her 30s who travelled from London via Hong Kong and arrived in NZ on 15 August, before becoming unwell on August 19.

The second is a male in his 50s who returned from Basrah via Dubai and Sydney between August 6 and 17. Both cases have been transferred to isolation facilities.

Church related
Of the nine new community cases, five were related to different churches in South Auckland and four were household contacts.

Dr Bloomfield said 88 of the 89 cases in the community are linked to the cluster and one is under investigation.

Today’s covid media conference. Video: RNZ News

Dr Bloomfield said there were 223 contacts from churches linked to the main cluster in this country – 170 tested, and further tracing would continue.

There were now 143 people linked to community cluster in quarantine, with positive tests. There were not a total of 1315 confirmed cases, including 105 active cases and 16 in managed isolation.

Dr Bloomfield said surge testing of border workers was nearly done – further testing in Auckland will start next week and then regular testing will begin.

Yesterday there were five new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, all relating to the existing Auckland cluster.

Dr Ashley Bloomfield ... Dr Bloomfield said surge testing of border workers was nearly done. Image: PMC screenshot
Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield … surge testing of border workers is nearly done. Image: PMC screenshot

Vilifying ‘dangerous’
Cabinet met this morning to review the settings for the alert level restrictions throughout the country and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it will meet to decide the next steps in the plan – and the alert levels for Auckland and rest of country – on Monday.

Ardern said the range of the cluster had been identified and New Zealand was not dealing with multiple outbreaks – the majority of cases had already been contacted traced and put in isolation.

She said the country was getting in front of the virus.

The Prime Minister began her comments at today’s press conference by thanking those who had been tested.

“We would not have got in front of this cluster without them.

“Vilifying those who have caught the virus, or those who helped keep us safe by getting tested is something that I simply will not tolerate,” she said.

“It is those who shame others, those who seek to blame – they are the dangerous ones.

“They are the ones who cause people to hesitate before getting a test, they are the ones who make people feel afraid.”

She said New Zealanders needed to stick together, supporting each other and acting responsibly to defeat covid-19.

This article is republished by the Pacific Media Centre under a partnership agreement with RNZ.

  • All RNZ coverage of covid-19
  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP – don’t show up at a medical centre.
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