New Zealand today reported a drop by a third in the number of new community cases of covid-19 to 60 after a record high yesterday.
The Ministry of Health said 56 of today’s cases were in Auckland and four were in Waikato.
Yesterday the ministry reported 94 new community cases — the highest number since the pandemic began.
There were also two cases reported at the border today.
Authorities also reported that three positive covid-19 cases staying at an Auckland managed isolation facility allegedly escaped last night.
There were two separate escapes involving the three people who were staying at the Holiday Inn Auckland Airport managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facility in Māngere, South Auckland.
Two were caught five minutes later.
The other involved a woman with covid-19 who has since handed herself in to the police after fleeing quarantine in Auckland last night.
Police said she was being taken to a custody unit before appearing in Manukau District Court tomorrow on a charge of failing to comply with a health order.
She was allegedly on her way from hospital to a quarantine facility and had stopped to collect belongings from home, when she fled.
Twenty-two of today’s 60 cases are yet to be linked to earlier cases. There are 166 unlinked cases from the past 14 days.
43 people in hospital
There are 43 people in hospital, including five in intensive care.
The number of community cases connected to the current outbreak is now 2158 and there have now been 4854 cases in this country since the pandemic began.
In announcing today’s new covid-19 case numbers, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said infections were still expected to rise and daily numbers would bounce around.
He continued to encourage New Zealanders to get tested for the virus.
“Of the four new cases today in Waikato, two of those are close household contacts who were already in a quarantine facility and the other two were also known to have likely links to existing cases.”
The total number of cases in Waikato was now 56, 10 of whom have now recovered.
Dr Bloomfield again urged people in Waikato to get tested
“Yesterday, New Lynn’s Shadbolt Park was classified as a location of interest. It’s now been reclassified as an exposure event and has been taken down from the Ministry of Health website.
“Having looked further into the event, which was being managed by a PHU elsewhere in the country it is now being assessed as an exposure event with a small number of people who are contacts.
“They are all known, have all been contacted and are now isolating.”
42,809 vaccine doses given
There were 42,809 vaccine doses given yesterday — 10,392 first doses and 32,417 second doses.
He said health teams in Auckland had moved away from using suburbs of interest as part of their testing regime because the infections are widespread across the city.
Testing instead was going to be focused in areas where there was a higher test-positivity rate, where the risk of unidentified cases is considered potentially higher.
“People with symptoms and even if they are mild symptoms, even if you are vaccinated in New Lynn and the North Shore suburbs of Rosedale, Redvale and Bayswater please do go and get tested as soon as possible,” Dr Bloomfield said.
He said it was important to determine whether there were undetected cases in those communities.
Dr Bloomfield also said from Thursday healthcare employees working into quarantine and isolation facilities would be allowed to work in other healthcare facilities without the need for a 48-hour stand-down period and negative test requirement.
“This will allow greater flexibility in using that MIQ workforce and of others being able to supplement that workforce and reduce some of the real pressure that is under that workforce,” he said.
Third dose for some
He said information was going up on the Health Ministry’s website soon relating to the third dose of the Pzifer vaccine for immuno-compromised people.
It would include the inclusion criteria, including how this small group of people would be identified and when they would receive their third vaccination.
“You will not be able to book a third vaccine on the Book My Vaccine website … details will be up on the website later this afternoon,” he said.
Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki has pleaded not guilty to breaching bail and lockdown rules governing mass gatherings.
It is Tamaki’s second court appearance in relation to mass gatherings.
He was granted bail by Judge Josephine Bouchier to appear before the Auckland District Court next year.
Police have also laid charges against four people in relation to organising and attending mass gatherings in the upper North Island on October 16.
This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.