Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says if New Zealand had not moved into lockdown, daily case numbers could have been around 550.
Cabinet has confirmed that all of New Zealand south of Auckland will move to level 3 from 11.59pm on Tuesday night.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today this would be for at least a week, to be reviewed by Cabinet next week.
Northland will likely join the rest of the country at alert level three from 11:59pm on Thursday, Ardern says.
Cabinet has also confirmed Auckland will remain at alert level four until September 14. Cabinet will consider next steps for the region on September 13.
Ardern said level 4 “is making a difference”.
“The job is not yet done and we do need to keep going.”
53 new community cases
Earlier, the Ministry of Health reported there were 53 new covid-19 cases in the community today – a significant drop from the last days with new cases in the 80s.
In a statement, the ministry said all 53 cases were in Auckland.
The total number of community cases in Auckland is now 547 and in Wellington it is 15, bringing the total number of active cases in the community outbreak to 562.
For Auckland and Northland, Ardern said cases in Warkworth were found late in the lockdown and were not equivalent to the cases in Wellington, where cases were monitored and did not appear to have spread.
“We just haven’t had that level of time for the cases we’re concerned about in Warkworth, and with possible contacts beyond. Once we have that same level of reassurance in Northland we feel safe to move alert levels,” she said.
Ardern said the government was awaiting test results from wastewater in Northland, and tests from people who were at locations of interest. If they all came back clear Northland could move to alert level 3 at 11.59 pm on Thursday.
“Just an indication here if all those tests come back clear,” she said.
Ardern said that if New Zealand had not moved into alert level 4, estimates of the number of new cases today could have been about 550.
‘The more we limit …’
“The more we do to limit our contact, the faster we will exit these restrictions,” Ardern said.
“Auckland is doing a huge service for all of us. And not just now, but throughout this pandemic. It’s Auckland that has maintained our gateway to the world, that has done a lot of the heavy lifting in welcoming Kiwis home safely, that has worked hard to keep Kiwis safe when there has been an outbreak. Auckland has done it tough.”
Ardern said the government was considering further restrictions under level 4 to prevent transmission occurring at the workplace.
“It is a privilege to be open at level 4,” she said.
Asked about supply of vaccines, Ardern said decisions would need to be made this week about whether New Zealand could continue to scale up vaccine delivery beyond what the government had initially planned.
She said New Zealand had about 840,000 doses of the vaccine in the country, and had been receiving about 350,000 each week.
“Our planning has been for the programme to administer 350,000 doses per week. We have the supply and infrastructure to do this sustainably over a long period of time.”
There had been an increase in demand, she said, and the government was working to reach that but falling short would merely mean falling back to the government’s earlier plans.
“If we are unable to do this then the worst-case scenario is we pull back to our planned volumes … contrary to the reporting, we are not running out of vaccine.”
Associate Minister of Health Ayesha Verrall has slammed Bay of Plenty District Health Board (DHB) after it asked Pacific people to show their passports at covid-19 vaccination appointments.
The DHB apologised last night over the move, acknowledging it was not the DHB’s policy, nor a requirement, and that it had affected trust and confidence with its Pacific communities.
This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.