National’s leader Luxon and Bridges test covid-19 positive – record 696 cases in NZ hospitals

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National Party leader Christopher Luxon
National Party leader Christopher Luxon ... among several New Zealand MPs who have tested positive for covid-19. Image: Angus Dreaver/RNZ

RNZ News

National Party leader Christopher Luxon is the latest in a string of members of Parliament reported to have tested positive to covid-19 as New Zealand has indicated a record 696 community cases nationwide in hospital.

In a statement issued on Monday afternoon, Luxon said he had not been showing symptoms but had been testing regularly as a precaution, including on Sunday morning, with all tests returning negative results.

But a test done earlier today came back positive and he was now isolating at home with his family, who had all tested negative.

Luxon said he felt fine and intended to participate in Parliament and meetings remotely.

Earlier today, National MP Simon Bridges, a former party leader, and backbench Labour MP Anahila Kanongataá-Suisuiki were also reported to have tested positive for covid-19.

Bridges is National’s spokesperson for finance and infrastructure.

Kanongataá-Suisuiki said in a Facebook post that she had tested positive on a day 3 test of home isolation, after her daughter had contracted the coronavirus.

In a social media post, she said she had lost her sense of smell and taste, but was “feeling ok”.

Last week, Environment Minister David Parker reported testing positive, and said he had minor symptoms and was “not feeling too bad”.

He had not been in the Beehive since the previous week, so was not with other MPs or staff while infectious, he said.

Minister of Police Poto Williams also shared on Facebook she had tested positive to the virus via a rapid antigen test and was isolating.

17,522 new cases
The Ministry of Health reported 17,522 new cases of covid-19 in the community today and 696 people in hospital.

The seven-day rolling average of community cases is 17,921, up from 17,272 yesterday.

“Care needs to be taken when interpreting daily reported cases, which are expected to continue to fluctuate,” the ministry said.

“This means that the seven-day rolling average of cases gives a more reliable indicator of testing trends.”

More than 47,000 rapid antigen test (RAT) results were reported yesterday, including 16,625 positive results.

Unvaccinated four times over-represented
There were 192,492 active cases confirmed in the last 10 days and not yet classified as recovered.

Of the 696 in hospital, 13 are in ICU. The average age of those in hospital is 57.

The ministry said: “While still early in the omicron outbreak, the figures show that, based on the data available, unvaccinated people are four times over-represented in the current hospitalisation data.

“Just 3 percent of eligible people aged 12 and over in New Zealand have had no doses of the vaccine. However, of the eligible people in Northland and Auckland hospitals with covid-19, 13 percent have had no doses of the vaccine.”

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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