Covid update: Director-General of Health says six of the latest cases have been linked to the new cluster, with one under investigation; Hipkins not drawn on election timing

Covid update: Director-General of Health says six of the latest cases have been linked to the new cluster, with one under investigation; Hipkins not drawn on election timing

There are seven new Covid-19 cases in the community.

Minister of Health Chris Hipkins and Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield provided the update on Saturday.

Bloomfield said six of the seven new cases were definitely linked to the new cluster and he thought it likely the seventh would prove to be so.

Separately, asked about the timing of the election and when there would be a decision, Hipkins would not be drawn. He said the decision to be made was whether or not to allow the dissolution of Parliament on Monday (as currently scheduled). His comments appeared to suggest a decision would likely be announced on that tomorrow. 

There are now 37 cases of community transmission, with 35 of them linked and two under investigation, including the one new one on Saturday. Bloomfield thought that both these cases would prove to be linked.

Nearly 24,000 tests were processed on Friday.

Everybody at the Kingswood rest home in Morrinsville had now been tested and returned negative tests.

New Zealand now has 56 active cases, including 19 who were returning people in quarantine.

Bloomfield briefly commented on two cases that had involved international travellers from New Zealand, one testing positive in Japan and one in Belgium.

He said there was believed to be a "low risk" from the two.

Hipkins said there was no evidence of "random cases" outside the identified cluster turning up, which was encouraging.

He issued a plea for Aucklanders to abide by the level 3 rules. "We want to be out of level 3 as soon as we can."

Both he and Bloomfield stressed that Covid-19 was the problem - not the people with it. And they expressed disapproval at pockets of anger emerging towards those with Covid.

Auckland will remain at Covid-19 Alert Level 3, and the rest of the country Level 2, until August 26.

The alert levels will be reviewed on August 21.

The wage subsidy will be extended nationwide while Level 3 restrictions remain in place. 

This means a business anywhere in the country, not already on the wage subsidy while Auckland is at Level 3, could be eligible. 

This was the statement issued by the Ministry of Health:

There are seven new confirmed cases of COVID-19 to report in the community today. 

There are no new cases to report in managed isolation.

Six are already linked to previous cases in the cluster, and one remains under investigation. This adds to the case from yesterday which also remains under investigation to firmly establish the link to the current outbreak.

Details of these cases are on our website. 

To date, 54 people linked to the cluster have now been moved into a quarantine facility, including 24 people who have tested positive.

The seven new confirmed cases to report today bring our total number of confirmed cases to 1,258 which is the number we report to the World Health Organization.

The total number of active cases in New Zealand is 56, of which 37 are from the recent community outbreak, and 19 are imported cases in managed isolation and quarantine facilities.

Of the 37 cases, 35 are linked to the cluster, and two remain under investigation, but are believed to be linked to the same cluster. 

Our national tracing service has 1,090 close contacts identified; they have contacted 934 as at 10am this morning, and they are all self-isolating. We are in the process of contacting the remaining close contacts.

If you are called by our contact tracers please take or return the call.

The key measure we use for contact tracing effectiveness is 80% of people contacted within 48 hours, and for the period August 6 – 12, we have contacted 86 % of those close contacts within 48 hours.

Testing

We are seeing unprecedented testing across the country, with laboratories delivering results on a daily basis well above previous capacity of around 13,000 in a day.

Yesterday our laboratories processed 23,846 tests for COVID-19, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 548,260. 

Because of the high volumes that we are seeing it may take up to 48 hours for swabs to be processed through the labs. 

However, this is not the only part of the process – these still need to be reported back through primary care and reported back to the patient. 

All parts of this process are currently under pressure and delays may be seen at various points. 

It is important that only people who fit the criteria are getting tested so that the highest risk swabs are getting processed as quickly as possible. Swabs of close contacts and other high risk people are prioritised. 

Tokoroa cases

The two people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Tokoroa are being transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility, and their whanau and close contacts are in self-isolation with oversight from the local Medical Officer of Health. Of their close contacts, all have returned negative tests to date. 

Morrinsville aged residential care facility

An update on the test results from the Kingswood Rest Home in Morrinsville – all staff and residents at the facility have been tested and are negative for COVID-19. 

Two staff remain in self-isolation as a precautionary measure. 

Masks 

The Ministry of Health's National PPE Supply Chain has made five million masks available for community use. Two million of these have been delivered to Countdown and will be available for purchase through Countdown supermarkets around the country.

Deliveries of the three million earmarked for vulnerable populations began yesterday with 1.6 million masks dispatched across 125 groups – including food banks, maraes, Pacific community churches and Aged Concern. 

Further orders for 400,000 masks were received yesterday.

Travel exemptions

As Auckland is now at Alert Level 3 and the rest of the country is at Alert Level 2, there are a range of restrictions around people entering and leaving Auckland city. These restrictions are designed to protect the health of people both inside and outside Auckland.

Essentially the Auckland city 'border' is closed. However, some exemptions are allowed - for example, people entering or leaving Auckland to: return home, access medical services or to transport a child as part of a shared caregiving arrangement. 

People should check if they can travel before departing. 

Other exemptions may also be granted if you have an urgent and compelling need. 

So far the Ministry has had more than over 100 requests for exemptions, all have been acknowledged and are being processed and a number have already been approved. 

Details of this and how to apply for an exemption can be found on the Ministry of Health website. 

Other investigations 

We continue our investigations into the two travellers who left New Zealand and later tested positive for COVID-19 overseas. 

One case is a Japanese traveller who left New Zealand on 8 August and transited through Singapore enroute to Japan. The other case is a Belgian traveller who left New Zealand on 6 August and transited through Singapore enroute to Amsterdam. Both travellers were asymptomatic in New Zealand. 

These cases are all considered low risk and to date, there is no evidence of any transmission in New Zealand.

However, as part of our proactive response we continue to actively contact trace and test any close contacts of these people.  So far all results of the testing have been negative.

We have contacted 11 of the 13 close contacts of the Japanese case so far. These people are all in self-isolation and are being tested. 

We have identified one close contact of the Belgium case. This person is in self-isolation and is well.

Further case investigation and contact tracing are underway.

NZ COVID Tracer

NZ COVID Tracer has now recorded 1,303,200 registered users, which is an increase of 655,000 in the last four days, and 130,000 in the last day. 

There have now been 186,480 QR codes generated – an increase of nearly 99,000 in the last four days. 

The number of poster scans has now reached 4,379,850. 

Conclusion

Once again, COVID-19 is the problem – not the people who have it. 

People are the solution here – and we thank everyone who has come forward to be tested. We are hearing reports of some online bullying and nasty comments directed towards people who have contracted COVID-19, which is both unacceptable and counter-productive as it may put people off coming forward and being tested. 

There is no shame, and no blame, in having the virus, or any infection.

People who we know who have tested positive for COVID-19 are to be commended – they have done their bit, and their quick action in coming forward to be tested, and then being in isolation, is protecting all New Zealanders. 

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.

101 Comments

12
up

Chippy thinks testing border staff is a "backstop".

Great. So tell us where the new outbreak started?

Unbelievable.

10
up

It is a backstop. Testing is the last line in the defence, because:
1. It is possible to get false negatives.
2. It is possible for someone to return a negative test, and then immediately be exposed and become ill, but if they act as if they are 'known negative' and let their guard down from their usual activities, they risk infecting people.

The appropriate thing to do is to put in protocols and measures to prevent spread, including wearing PPE, minimising contact and increased cleaning procedures, all of which have (largely) been in place.

There are some concerning reports of staff in MIQ hotels who have been observed being too close to the public and not wearing masks, however.

If it's only a backstop but they're rushing to test them all now then it isn't a baskstop.

noun
noun: backstop; plural noun: backstops; noun: back-stop; plural noun: back-stops
* an emergency precaution or last resort.
"the human operator has to act as the ultimate backstop when things go badly wrong"

As I said, it's the last line of defence. You don't do testing as the first step, because it can be unreliable and also give a false sense of security. You don't only do testing and not bother doing anything else, as if testing is a silver bullet.

It's another layer of defence - and the last layer (hence backstop). It's still an important layer. Same reason planes have 2 pilots, even though you technically only need 1 to fly a plane.

Just because something is a backstop, doesn't mean it isn't important.

Just because something isn't bulletproof doesn't mean you don't bother doing it until you're called out on not doing it.

I agree, this backstop, because it is important, should have been in place sooner. I've never said otherwise. I'm just pointing out that people are over-reacting about how important testing really is.

Yes, if we weren't doing ANYTHING else, testing would be crucial - because it would be the single layer of defence. But that's why we have multiple layers of defence, so if any single layer fails, the other layers can be there to pick it up.

It is fair to say that testing is of a different nature to the other layers - the others are all preventative and can't give you an early warning that someone is sick even if they appear not to be, whereas testing can identify if an individual is a specific risk or not and allow control of the potential outbreak vector directly rather than the other measures which are precautionary and general in nature.

IMO people are acting like not doing regular testing is a cock-up that rates at 9 or possibly 10 out of 10 on a severity scale. IMO it's more like a 6 because of all of the other measures that were being taken.

that the point other things were not in place, airport workers do not wear masks or gloves in hot zones, they are not temp tested when they enter zones, same at the ports, it is only the stevdores that go on the ships to remove lashings that have possible contact, but they use the same lunch room, toilets as the straddle drivers and others go fiqure.
at the airport it has only ever been the staff looking after incoming passengers going into quarantine that are monitored
the whole border situation has been weak and holes everywhere, whom ever set this up does not know what goes on at airports or ports how people interact, surfaces that could be contaminated, how many different roles there are when a plane or ship comes in
i.e from the daily flight from melbourne handlers get up into bulkhold to retrieve cargo that was placed there 3 hours earlier from someone in melbourne
lashings on frozen containers on the ship, the crew take temps so touch surfaces ten minutes before stevedores come onboard to undo and can touch same surfaces
so this was always a matter of time.

Do you have any references for these deficiencies you're claiming?

Unfortunately Lanth, that's the problem.. there have been quite a few anecdotal accounts of deficiencies but as soon as someone from "officialdom" seeks evidence the whole procedure is tightened up, everyone works to "best practice" and the result is - "nothing to see here". I've personally seen this effect in Heavy Industry where the site has advance warning of a WorkSafe "random" inspection and suddenly everything is squeaky clean and compliant..only to revert to "normal transmission" later.. it's a joke

plenty, the airport is a big village, everyone knows everyone, if they dont you know someone that knows someone and there are so many people related on the airport you can know whole familes and they work all over the airport in different sections.
one example
i work with a wife of a customs officer that was at the airport terminal , this became our running daily joke has he been tested yet, nope, does he wear a mask, nope, does he even get checked nope. he got his first text on wednesday night to be tested, bit late after months of greeting passengers and he is no longer there moved off the airport to be safer for his family
as for the other bits of the airport i grew up there so know many many people and the airport is a giant talkfest so everyone talks about what is going on to everyone, and like all work places the guys doing the day to day see and do stuff they know is wrong but middle management say all ok no risk
i.e air NZ staff were flying from aussie then to fill hours were doing domestic flights which they complained about as unsafe.
now they are flying domestic quarantine flights then onto domestic flights on the same day.
we have chilled products coming in which get moved straight from plane to truck to importer, never seen a glove worn when handling it.
i could go on and on but like i have said they need someone that knows the whole process of the airport, it is a big big place and has so many parts i bet most people dont even know how many people work on or around the airport, it is approx 15000 and a large proportion have contact with someone in their day whom has had contact with a plane or freight that has just made a 3 hour trip from melbourne.
and now we are getting more and more flights coming in with more freight .
MPI did a better job years ago of turning the airport and airport oaks area into a bubble for gypsy moth than CDHB has done for covid

Well somewhat longwinded but you've proved my point. Thanks trader

Ok, so no reference, just anecdote and hearsay.

That's a freakn insult Lanthanide and you should know better. Those observations are coming from people who are at the coalface, who experience the deficiencies daily. Just because they don't fill out a nice little peer reviewed report and get sign off from their Manager doesn't make it any less relevant or factual.
You should be ashamed of that last comment and do the people on the ground at these facilities a disservice

Why aren't these people talking to the media if it's so blatantly obvious and as bad as described? Don't you think Tova would have loved to have a top-of-the-hour expose on this 3 weeks ago, about how the government was screwing up the management of the border?

The media have a requirement to do due diligence and verify and corroborate their stories, as they would with such a story like this. Yet somehow none of these hundreds of people apparently working in these conditions has bothered to talk to the media because of their concerns of how it is not being taken seriously.

If you're pointing finger at the people at the top, you can also point the finger at the people "just following orders". There's historical precedent for holding such people to account for their actions.

What a load of bollocks..we both know the media would go to the management first to "verify" the story. And they'd get the usual whitewash. People on the ground are fearful of employment sanctions so won't go public. I could give you many examples of management whitewashes but I'm a contractor to these industries and would like to continue paying my bills. I'm sure even you realise that the "whistleblower" covenants in most industries are merely window dressing. I have a friend who took photographic evidence of an incident that resulted in a significant Chlorine gas leak a few years ago. Sent it to WorkSafe. That friend is now banned from both Pulp Mill sites in the central NI. He's lucky he's still employed (albeit in a reduced capacity)

What a load of bollocks..we both know the media would go to the management first to "verify" the story.

No, we don't "both" know that at all.

Media often reports things like this, and then they say "when approached, management disagreed that this was happening". Doesn't stop the story being reported.

You don't need to look much further than the media reporting about the flu vaccines, reporting from many doctors saying they had shortages and couldn't get them, and then reporting the MoH saying there was no shortage etc. They didn't bury the story as you're suggesting they would just because the MoH disagreed.

Stop obfuscating Lanthanide. There's a big difference between listening to multiple doctors with the same story and listening to multiple "squaddy's" with the same story. One set of complainants are deemed "qualified" the other are just "anecdotal and unverified" - your words not mine.

Yip, Tova is really picky about who she listens to. She will turn down a headline making story because she doesn't like the people tipping her off. She's very snobbish like that.

There is the "Truth as reported" and then there is the actual truth. Anything and everything offical has been "managed" in some way. Often layers deep. To get the real truth you have to dig far deeper than the company spokesperson, or the media release.

So lets be honest, 99% of New Zealand "Journalists" (including Tova) wouldn't be able to get access to the person that deals with the real data. Most don't get past the Media Spokesperson, or maybe the CEO. A few of the better ones may get a senior manager. The exceptional ones might even get to a mid/low level manager or a couple of frontline staff (that have been vetted and prepped by said management).

But they are not getting to the analysts, specialists, and data gurus. They are far to well protected.

Re politics in particular. Most of the reporters have some ripping stories to tell, of course it is all "off the record" stuff so will never be officially reported or confirmed.

Actually Lanth, your comments about PPE and the like are interesting, All those measures are , as any one familiar with PPE use knows, the actual "last line of defence". You test so you can measure so you can manage. Repeated frequent testing is the FIRST line not a backstop. If workers refuse they should be replaced. This is an emergency situation we're in, not a normal everyday workplace. Everyone has choices - theirs is endure a repeated testing regime or find another job.. Simple

PPE is the last line on the hazard control hierarchy.. but testing to see if they have been hurt/infected/injured doesn't even appear on that hierachy, because it doesn't prevent anything. Testing detects something after the person is infected, and likely not for a few days after they have been infected.

Lanthanides' comments are accurate. PPE is the last layer after reducing contact, and other engineering/administrative controls, but still miles before testing to see if all your other controls have failed.

I sure as hell wouldn't have you doing a JSAA for me.

As I said.. this isn't a normal workplace, in your example the PCR testing could be likened to a verified isolation procedure, It is the primary control to identify & isolate the hazard.. all else is secondary. I sure wouldn't sign onto your JSA either, given you have blind faith in the isolations.
As for Lanths comments he was proposing PPE was the amongst the first line of defence, along with distancing

No, a PCR test is not able to be likened to an isolation. An isolation positively removes a source of harm, a positive test (or a negative test) doesn't change anything.

There is nothing special about this workplace compared to any lab that deals with handling infectious/hazardous substances.. Tests are after the fact, monitoring performance of your hazard reduction measures, they are not, and never can be a hazard reduction method.

You're joking right?? How do you identify a source of harm, especially an invisible one, without testing for it. Your Lab has already identified what they're potentially dealing with before they start handling it. How'd they do that?? Guess? You seem to be missing the point that before you instigate control measures you have to identify the hazard, which in this case a PCR test does.

The hazard is: people may be infected with a disease and we don't know if they are or not. The controls to Eliminate, Isolate and Minimise that risk include avoiding contact with the infected people, isolating them in a particular place, using PPE where you have to.

Testing would help you to know who you need to treat more seriously (but again because you can get false negatives, you shouldn't treat someone who gets a negative test as being 'safe', and they could be infected immediately after such a result as well) but it doesn't actually Eliminate, Isolate or Minimise the hazard in itself - which is people may be infected with a disease and we don't know if they are or not.

So tell me.. how do you identify an infected person? Wait till they go symptomatic or test? I know which route I'd rather take, and sure doesn't entail PPE and hoping for the best. I've said it here previously - there should be tests conducted every 4 days, MIQ workers themselves should have been isolated and tested regularly (now belatedly happening), people who are clear after 12 days should be segregated from recent (0-10 day) arrivals. This Govt is running on a wing and a prayer. Don't get me wrong.. I don't think anyone else would have done any better, but the current MIQ effort is adhoc and reactionary. In the old "school report" days they'd be marked with a "could do better with supervision" remark

So tell me.. how do you identify an infected person?

Since there is no definitive way to be sure someone is infected or not, because the tests can produce a fairly high level of false negatives depending on how far through the infection the person is (as high as 30% for the first 24 hours), you don't.

You treat everyone in the target population (eg, people from overseas staying in an isolation hotel) as if they have the disease and take all appropriate Elimination, Isolation and Minimisation steps as necessary when interacting with them, including PPE.

An additional layer of defence is to then regularly test the workers, as well as offering testing on-demand. Up until recently they had only offered testing on demand (including allowing testing of an asymptomatic worker if they requested it).

The tests are conducted at day 3 so the likelihood of false negatives falls.Further testing at day 7 would reduce that possibility even further. Up until recently (starting last week when professionals flipped out) there was little or no mandatory testing of staff. On demand and on request testing doesn't cut it in a Quarantine facility. Hiding behind a statement that "mandatory compulsion to undergo a medical procedure is a high bar to set " is just straight out dodging the issue. Those MIQ facilities should have been watertight. To date they seem somewhat leaky. As I've said previously, the choice is simple - take the tests or find a new job. Under the Workplace HSE laws there would be legal precedence for compulsion.

The tests are conducted at day 3 so the likelihood of false negatives falls.Further testing at day 7 would reduce that possibility even further.

This is not relevant to testing of staff, which is what we're actually talking about, and not relevant to your general claim of "how do you know if someone is infected or not". I replied by saying YOU DON'T because YOU CAN'T. You take all appropriate precaustions, including PPE, on the assumption that everyone is infected.

Testing of staff is important, but is not the first line of defence as you keep maintaining it is. Similarly testing of people in isolation is not the first line of defence, isolating/quarantining them for 14 days and observing they have no symptoms is - testing is the backup.

On demand and on request testing doesn't cut it in a Quarantine facility.

Staff in the quarantine facilities have been tested weekly, although I am unsure how long that has been going on, it may only be a few weeks old.

Testing of staff in isolation facilities and other border workers has only been on demand. I agree it is not sufficient and have never said otherwise, nor am I defending the lack of such testing, and have never defended it.

Hiding behind a statement that "mandatory compulsion to undergo a medical procedure is a high bar to set " is just straight out dodging the issue

That's the reason that was given. Bloomfield talked about it at length today in the press conference as well, there are many different sites, many different employers, many different employees working on many different shifts, getting tests at many different places including community testing centres and GPs. Co-ordinating all of that is not a simple click of your fingers.

Again, it should have been done, but since testing of staff is a backstop, this isn't a 9 or 10 out of 10 lapse of judgement / competence, it's more like a 6 out of 10.

As I've said previously, the choice is simple - take the tests or find a new job

Totally agree in the case of MIQ workers, since they were employed for that job. Other workers on the border, not so much.

A comparative view in my opinion would be random breath testing, or minesite drug testing. Not testing, in my books is the same as just letting the drunks drive. It is not a backstop, it is a preventative measure. You are testing first, to stop the idiot before they cause trouble.

For Covid, all workers should be tested before and after entering the workplace, every single time.

How do you do this in reality? Same as mine sites/Oil rigs. You put them on a swing shift. You test them before they enter the site, they stay isolated themselves until proven to be negative, They then stay onsite for the duration of their swing. They are then tested and isolated again, before being allowed to leave. A 3 week swing of 2/10/2 with 7 days off should do it easily.

Yes it would suck big time for the worker, so you pay them more to compensate. Give them $500 $1,000 $1,500 heck, $2,000 a day each. It is still a bargain compared to the costs of going into lockdown again.

As for Lanths comments he was proposing PPE was the amongst the first line of defence, along with distancing

I didn't, actually. Here's where I mentioned PPE:

The appropriate thing to do is to put in protocols and measures to prevent spread, including wearing PPE, minimising contact and increased cleaning procedures, all of which have (largely) been in place.

Nothing in there says PPE is 'first', just that its among the measures to be done before testing. Which is correct, because testing is the last line of defence, so everything is ahead of it.

You placed testing after PPE - by Lanthanide | 15th Aug 20, 1:41pm

It is a backstop. Testing is the last line in the defence, because:
1. It is possible to get false negatives.
In a nutshell - you're wrong, except for the low percentages of false negatives. The way your post was written you seemed to be advocating that as long as PPE was worn, distancing was observed then testing was secondary. If testing is secondary QPQ PPE must be primary

Yes, I agree I placed testing after PPE. Because it's a backstop. That's what it means - last.

Well I'm kind of over trying to point out the fallacy of your opinion. You have your idea and I have mine. Happy mask wearing

There's no fallacy at all. I replied above why testing is not the 'first line' of defence as you suggest it is - because the false negative rates can be as high as 30%.

Those false negative rates can be high, but 30% seems a bit too high. Subsequent testing at day 7 would reduce the incidence of false negatives. Just because a test has a relatively high error rate on the first sample is no reason to discount it, especially when a further test can be taken from the subject at a later (day 7) stage, giving you two tests on the same subject.
BTW if the tests are so prone to error why are they being used as definitive conditions for release from MIQ? Are you saying we are letting 30% (potentially) of people out who are actually positive?? Sorry Lanthanide your argument is as leaky as our border

You're conflating multiple different things.

My reference to the tests having as high as 30% false negatives rate is specifically in response to you saying "well how do you know if someone is positive" and the point is you can't. That's why tests are not the first line of defence like you keep insisting they are - if someone is in their first 24 hours, getting a negative result from them is not a guarantee the aren't infected.

Just because a test has a relatively high error rate on the first sample is no reason to discount it

I agree and I never said it was.

What I said is that you can't rely on a negative result to mean they aren't infected, thus you can't say "ok, this person is not infected. We can put them into a special 'not infected' wing and stop social distancing, stop increased cleaning, stop wearing PPE around them, because our first line of defense, the test, showed they are negative".

Not sure how many times in how many different ways I need to spell this out to you.

BTW if the tests are so prone to error why are they being used as definitive conditions for release from MIQ?

They aren't the definitive condition. The condition is you have served 14 days in isolation and returned a negative test on day 12, or you have served 28 days without developing symptoms if you refused testing. As far as I'm aware, no one has opted to serve 28 days isolation yet.

Are you saying we are letting 30% (potentially) of people out who are actually positive?

Of course I'm not saying that, because they aim to weed everyone who is positive out of the isolation facilities ASAP to prevent spread.

It is entirely possible for someone to have caught COVID 19 on day 11 in isolation and return a negative result on day 12 and then be let out into the community to spread it. But that didn't mean we are letting 30% of people who are positive out, because the vast majority of positive cases go into quarantine, where I don't know what the release conditions are, but probably the definition of "recovered" which requires 10 days without symptoms.

Here's the reference for the false negative rates: https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1808

One community based study of 4653 close contacts of patients with covid-19 tested RT-PCR throat swabs every 48 hours during a 14 day quarantine period. Of 129 eventually diagnosed with covid-19 by RT-PCR, 92 (71.3%) had a positive test on the first throat swab, equating to a sensitivity of 71% in this lower prevalence, community setting.

i have been harping on for weeks that there was no testing at all of border staff or airport or port workers.
now everyone is being tested, even truck drivers.
better late than never

There has been testing, it just hasn't been routine and automatic for people working on the border or in isolation hotels. People working in the quarantine hotels have been tested weekly, although I'm unsure when this began, it may have only been in place for a few weeks at present.

If anyone working on the border or in MIQ hotels came down with symptoms they would be tested and sent home from work until they'd recovered from whatever it was they were ill with. If someone who was unsymptomatic wanted to get a test, they were allowed to do so (this was reported last week when Megan Woods said it wasn't the case, and the next day Chris Hipkins said she was wrong).

OMG , 7 cases!!! Mr Orr, another zillion printed please, we need rock star housing economy during the pandemic!!

[ Unsubstantiated rumours are dangerous to spread. OK, you can find that sort of rubbish on social media, but passing on unverified rumours is not something that we want to enable on these threads. Please desist. Others, don't do it. Making stuff up to fit a conspiracy narrative is mentally lazy. Life is full of uncertainties and we just need to live with them, with maturity. I know there are some people who can't handle uncertainty, but that is no reason to make stuff up or invent 'certainties'. Ed. ]

thats wrong because the first person infected from americold was not that family, they were the first that came forward it has been tracked back to an earlier worker having it and passing it on

Genomic sequencing will be able to verify or dismiss this claim.

Yes the rumour has all the appearance of scuttlebutt, and let’s all hope that is so. While the aim may have been very embarrassing for the government, more sinisterly, it threatens all of us. Hard not to conclude that perpetrators of such publications, are not at heart, of entirely malicious persona.

All due respect too the editor but how can we get to the truth of the matter if only msm and govt narratives are acceptable.

I mean is banks creating money out of thin air a conspiracy and worthy of being silenced. It some countries you get locked up for questioning the govt. It all starts with the little things. Since msm is unbalanced and promotes the govt line, I welcome all views and ideas regardless of how offensive and abhorrent same my feel about it.

Of course your site your rules but outside of forums like this people are being silenced.

All due respect too the editor but how can we get to the truth of the matter if only msm and govt narratives are acceptable.

Because the government isn't holding back relevant information or lying to us. If there is truth behind the allegations in the comment that were deleted, the government will tell us in due time.

Btw the broad outline of the allegations is that the case came from a prisoner deported from Australia back to NZ and this person was inappropriately visited by one of the people who is now positive. There was more to it than that which is where it started to become fairly disparaging / prejudicial scuttlebutt, so I'm not repeating it.

Hipkins and Bloomfield talked about online bullying today in the standup, and these allegations were directly in that vein.

"The government will tell us in due time."

That's gold. That's the written equivalent of "your call is important to us, please hold.... the wait time for this call is .... 2 .... hours..."

Pretty sure the DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER (the government) is going around saying there was a quarantine breach. You may want to call him out too.

This was discussed at length at the 1pm press conference yesterday.

The government's official reports come at the 1pm briefings, anything they say has been verified and is vetted (to the best of their ability). Anything said outside of the briefings is not.

They also pointed out that Winston was very clear to say in the same interview that he has not heard it from an official source and that the media should ask Winston follow up questions.

Winston does not officially represent the government with his statements, only the official press release from the government theatrette does.

"The government will tell us in due time."
.. and Lanth will explain why it is only a tiny-winy problem and not the government's fault anyway ..

"Because the government isn't holding back relevant information or lying to us."

You seem very certain of this, do you really believe a govt would not lie? Because if you believe that, man does my Nigerian uncle have a deal for you.

I don't believe in all the conspiracies, but it pays to listen to them, as often they either have a kernal of truth (no matter how small) or at least raise a valid question.

For example, I did my own research on masks, and wore one both times I left the house in the first lockdown. Turns out the Govt was wrong on that one. So the question is:
a) Were they lying/hiding/covering something? (like a shortage of masks)
b) Were they fed bogus information? even though Europe were encouraging masks, as was Fauci well before we went into Lockdown the first time.
c) Were they stupid? Afterall, the only other anti-masker at the time was President Chump.

Masks aren't a simple issue, it wasn't obvious that wearing one is helpful:
1. People may incorrectly believe that makes are 100% effective, and so engage in riskier behaviours while wearing one, and end up getting themselves infected when they wouldn't have otherwise (eg, stop physical distancing, or have a house party with masked guests)
2. Tests had only been done on manufactured masks, it was not clear that homemade masks would be effective. They didn't want a run on manufactured masks as these are best reserved for people in high contact situations well have been trained how to use them.
3. People assumed wearing a mask would help prevent someone becoming newly infected by COVID, when actual testing has shown mask use is far more effective at preventing a positive person spreading it to others - this is why research is necessary, because assumptions can turn out to be wrong.
4. Improper use of PPE, including masks, can increase the risk of transmission. We now know from #3 that masks prevent it spreading from infected hosts, so the risk of an uninfected person being infected while taking off their own mask is reduced, if everyone is wearing masks. But this was not initially known.
5. With public health messaging it is very important to give accurate information to the public. If you suggest something that the it to be wrong or actively bad for people, the public may start to distrust you and stop listening to future messaging. The government was giving accurate information on masks - the WHO and clinical testing did not, at the time, recommend the use of masks.

Wearing masks could actually have made you more susceptible to the disease, or simply done nothing but be health and safety theatre. It has subsequently be shown that masks are useful against COVID, but not in the way many had assumed.

Who would get the blame if the government said "masks for all!" and then hospital workers had none left? Who would get the blame is the government said "masks for all!" and then it turned out, through a particular quirk of SARS-CoV-2 that masks actually increased transmission and not decreased as assumed?

@Lanthanide .........What utter Bull.... this Government has been caught out lying to us about the testing that was NEVER done at the airport and NEVER done at the Quarantine facilities

The Government is and has been lying , plain and simple .

Coming on TV at 1pm everyday with platitudes and stage managed media spin .

Now we know its just a pack of lies fed to us daily , and the truth is coming out albeit very slowly

Haha careful Boatman.. the one man cheerleading squad will not be happy and will unleash a storm of obfuscation and justification upon your house. He will unleash the dogs of halftruths and minutia upon you

You won't get to the truth reading wild unsubstantiated rumours copied from unpleasant twitter posters - in fact, unless you are able to check the "facts" being presented, you will never get to the truth. The internet is aswill with lies and misinformation.

This is about that utterly stupid fb post doing the rounds, isn't it? I have already pulled up an old friend for sharing it. This is getting beyond the pale and it is time to call it out, every. time. you. see. it. I don't care who it is I am calling out, either.

I'm not familiar with the FB content being spread. See my comment above for a very general outline of what was posted here.

I'm amazed that with all the testing across both contacts and non-contacts that is being done, that we haven't yet found any new (i.e., not linked) cases. Hoping we really did get onto this one early enough.

Astonished myself. Fully expected this to be well entrenched and impossible to curtail. Still be surprised if it was caught early enough but here’s hoping.

Yes, it does seem to be falling in our favour so far. Not the best possible outcome, but certainly well on the 'good' side of the ledger.

Today's results are encouraging - yet still a bit early to tell ( we have no idea where the index case came from ) .
Here is hoping ...

We may never know where the index case came from. The longer time goes on without a link identified, the less likely it is that one will be identified.

True. My point is that until we do we cannot draw as much from test results as we might be able to otherwise. Still encouraging results ..

Aye, long ago, almost forgotten, in the very early days, the elderly lady who fell victim on the West Coast, was from a contact still unknown, do believe?

Probably a frail old lady with a false positive. Like those false positives in Tanzania. The goat. The papaya.

As long as we are only testing symptomatic close contacts then we can't be sure. I'm perplexed as to why they persist with this. You won't find community transmission if you're turning people away from the wider community for testing, which appears to be happening.

They're not only testing symptomatic close contacts.

Everyone in the rest home in Tokoroa was tested. They aren't all symptomatic. Anyone in the community who isn't a close contact but has symptoms can get tested.

GIVEN that this case appears to have been caught early, there's not a lot of value in testing asymptomatic people who are not known contacts of the cases, because it's highly unlikely they have it so it's just wasting resources better spent on people who have a higher chance of having it. Since Auckland is in level 3, everyone should be minimising contact with strangers anyway, so even if someone was somehow infected with COVID 19, when symptoms developed later they can get tested later and in the meantime exposure to others in the community should be limited. For people who remain asymptomatic and never develop symptoms, they're generally quite a bit less infectious anyway, so it's possible they won't pass it on to anyone else anyway, particularly if they are observing social distancing in all situations that they should be (eg, including their workplace).

As you say , it would be better if more random tests were done. But we can take comfort from the very low positivity rate (wobbling randomly around 0.1%) they get from testing: foreign arrivals, symptomatic people, and known contacts of the preceding.

Kate
Agreed. Just 7 cases in 24,000 test (0.007%) positive - especially when there was a weighting of high risk close contact tested - indicates that the incidence is seemingly contained to the one cluster.
One can only hope that individual responsibility by all - i.e. everyone - means that other clusters do not emerge. This cluster is traced back to one situation and is clear evidence of the consequences for the whole country and in this case particularly Auckland.
One person acting irresponsibility can have dire consequences and as such I have no problems with prosecutions and maximum penalties.

Yeah I am surprised too. Mathematically it is stacked in favour of it infecting people outside the cluster.
Fingers crossed.

By definition if they can trace it back to the existing cluster it becomes part of that cluster and not a separate one.

The main reason for putting Auckland into L3 is to reduce the chance of untraceable spread. It also seems our contact tracing system is working very well and as designed, putting paid to the doom and gloom mongering by the likes of Sam Morgan (but, I do think the government should just go ahead with the COVIDCard).

i like the covid card idea, for data purposes it look far safer than enabling bluetooth on phones to do the same.
this is less big brother than some of the apps out there
Singapore’s TraceTogether, released on March 20, is a more limited coronavirus tracking app that keeps a record of close contacts between the phones of registered individuals without registering where those interactions occurred. Unlike South Korea’s database, it is optional, and in fact only about 25 percent of the population has signed up. It uses a phone’s Bluetooth function to detect and log every instance when two people (or at least their phones) come close enough to each other for Bluetooth to recognize the signal.

And dear officials!!!Can I please ask you a favour?? PLEASE announce your decisions during the stock market open hours , not just 30 min after . You would spend more time with your family

HUHH????

it is a worry we are having cases leave NZ that are being testing on arrival as positive in the last few weeks
that makes 4 now, the only common dementors is they all left auckland airport
one a direct flight to sydney, maybe had covid here months ago
three transited through singapore ,
korean, belguim and japanese passengers, possibly caught in singapore but unlikely as they tested positive on arrival
and as of today they have not been able to rule out they did not catch here

It doesn't - it presents a view from a talkback radio host. Who do you want to get your information from?

TV NZ , talkback , maybe tv3
Ryan is better than Mike Hosking , the fact is that the South Island doesn't give a fat rats arse , My local Pak n Save which is in top ten is has put signs of tracing that's it no number counting .
Hey don't worry about the cost as if there is say a major disaster no money in the kitty if say the Alpine Fault went or Wellington get hits by the one .
Sorry folks not Covid first nothing else matters
I have a mate that offered 79k to payback in the building industry as he was not entitled to it "don't worry keep it" that sucks
When are people going to wake up
Jazzy is not going to save us long term but be kind

Ryan Bridge is as dumb as a sack of hammers, but yes, still better than Mike Hosking

Michael Reddell has the the complete lack of economic analysis squarely in his sights in this article. He's managed to dig up references to non-Gubmint papers which attempt some answers based on QALY. RTWT and the links.

There are no public 'answers', chiefly because the core question - is this the right response and if not why not? - has never been asked by those who compel lockdowns, in any rigorous way.

Grant Robertson was asked on Friday why the best economic response was a health response. He said it was partly belief, but also studies that has been done on the 1918 flu pandemic and other pandemics since then.

I didn't really listen to his answer in full but it's there if you want to go listen.

There is a certain level of necessary cognitive disconnect when approaching lockdown. If you can justify the saving of 2000 lives from Covid by locking down 5 million people, how can you not justify locking down 5 million people to save 600+ lives for regular flu, or locking down the roads to save 300+ lives from car accidents, or... or...
I mean there are foods out there that kill people, High glycaemic index foods, processed foods, alcohol is prolific, smoking kills in high numbers every year. Heart disease is a massive problem. No lockdown for any of those things, no outright ban, not even mandatory labelling on alcohol products. So yea, Covid is a very precious one of many malaises. Worthy of full spectrum lifestyle changes. Why?
Well, how about this: Big Data is bigger than big Oil. Right? So if you want to make profit from oil, what do you do? You extract more oil. If you wanna make more profit from data? ....

If you can justify the saving of 2000 lives from Covid by locking down 5 million people, how can you not justify locking down 5 million people to save 600+ lives for regular flu, or locking down the roads to save 300+ lives from car accidents, or... or...

1. Car accidents aren't contagious.
2. The flu is a well-understood virus. Most people have some latent resistance to it from past exposures, effective vaccines and treatments exist. That is not the case for COVID-19, yet.
3. COVID-19 appears to have long-lasting impacts on some people ever after they've recovered from the initial illness, including cognitive and other genearl physiological impacts. The 'flu pretty much doesn't.

I mean there are foods out there that kill people, High glycaemic index foods, processed foods, alcohol is prolific, smoking kills in high numbers every year. Heart disease is a massive problem. No lockdown for any of those things, no outright ban, not even mandatory labelling on alcohol products

Those are generally 'lifestyle' things. A few cigarettes are unlikely to result in lung cancer. A few processed foods are unlikely to result in obesity. A few drinks are unlikely to result in liver failure, etc. The problem is when those things are taken to excess.

In a free and open society, it turns out that we have, by and large, decided that self-control and choice are more important freedoms than the government banning cigarettes, banning alcohol, banning sugary foods etc. That's simply what has happened. Any political party campaigning to ban those things (or ban cars) would not be elected, and thus those things are not banned.

There is no upside good to the SARS-CoV-2 virus like there is upside good to cigarettes, alcohol, cars and sugary foods.

Political parties are free to campaign at this upcoming election what the most appropriate response to COVID-19 is. If a political party makes the case we should not have lockdowns and should just let people die, they can campaign on that. If they get enough votes, they'll win and be able to put their policies into force.

That's democracy.

Chris hipkins admitted on Q @ A that front facing airport staff at the border were not getting tested,
whom knew, just about everyone that worked at the airport and we have been telling people for months
the only time you got tested if you went to your local GP's with symptoms, ie cough, runny nose
good to see jack giving it to him this morning about how weak our border was

He also said it in the 1pm briefing yesterday.

Pity how 'just about everyone at the airport' who had known this for months didn't bother telling the media about it.

because most want to keep their jobs, and would get sacked straight away if they found out it was you that talked.
but if they stood outside countdown, habital fix or subway around feeding time, as as you saw them walk past in their high viz's or uniforms,
its pretty easy to pick whom is a terminal worker if you know what you are looking for
asked the question have you had a covid test lately, and do you work at the terminal most would give an answer

because most want to keep their jobs, and would get sacked straight away if they found out it was you that talked.

That's what unions are for. Speak to the union and get the union to raise the matter publicly. Yet that didn't happen either.

So now you are trying to shift the blame for MoHs deficiencies onto the workers because they didn't bring up their concerns. Pity MoH and the minister didn't do their job properly and audit the numbers from day one. Everything about this response has been reactionary and continues to be. So much for getting ahead of the curve.

No, not at all, I'm just saying that not everything is purely up to the government, as people seem to think.

"Why didn't the government do something?!? It's a travesty!!!"

Why didn't the people on the ground, who apparently thought it was dodgy, do something? Or, perhaps, the people on the ground *didn't* think it was dodgy either?

Everything about this response has been reactionary and continues to be. So much for getting ahead of the curve.

Blatantly untrue. We were the first OECD country to block travel from people in China. We had a stockpile of 280,000 test kits at the start of this latest outbreak, which is a good thing too because they're been testing on the order of 15,000 - 20,000 people per day, so are quickly using up that stockpile - if we were purely "reactionary" as you claim, we wouldn't have had such a large stockpile available. The government proactively ordered additional influenza vaccines once they saw the COVID outbreak spreading around the rest of the world. We already had a contact tracing system set up in NZ, it was broken into discrete regional health boards but work was quickly put into place to make it into an integrated national solution - we didn't have to create a contract tracing system from scratch, starting with nothing.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of individual things that have been done proactively ahead of time, and they worked as expected and because they worked as expected you haven't complained about them because you're not aware of it. Responding to a pandemic is a very complicated thing that requires thousands of people involved. Mistakes are made, and some of the mistakes have been quite bad and potentially quite serious, but the existence of some mistakes doesn't mean a terrible job is being done.

If "everything" was purely reactionary as you have claimed, we never would have eliminated the virus. Simple.

Well put it this way, whenever there is a published issue surrounding the response the impression is "ohhh, hadn't thought of that.. we'll get on to it"
If you want to troop the colours for the Govt response go for your life but most thinking people know that we dodged a bullet the first time thanks to our geographic isolation and few entry points.
Telling me that "There are hundreds, if not thousands, of individual things that have been done proactively ahead of time, and they worked as expected and because they worked as expected you haven't complained about them because you're not aware of it" is pretty disingenuous. People care about the big picture stuff not the minutiae. Stuff like an incompetent Health Minister (Clark), border breaches, lack of testing in MI facilities, PPE not reaching staff in a timely fashion and when it did much of it was unusable, people being turned away from testing clinics because they closed at 4pm, insufficient number of testing clinics leading to multi hour waits.. it's a list that could go on

Stuff Headline from Yesterday.
'We’re leaving no stone unturned': Did New Zealand's outbreak come from a Melbourne cool store?
To paraphrase the response of the worldwide scientific community. Not F&$#%N likely!
Ms Arden is pushing the narrative of the Americold worker being the 1st case to develop symptoms at every opportunity. The government has also thrown MPI and police resources at investigating the Americold site for surface traces of the virus and their supply chain. This has been decided on as the best way to misdirect the media and the public to focus on a highly unlikely scenario. Rather than the much more likely scenario that a worker in one of the managed isolation facilities contracted the virus from an infected guest and passed it on. Even in the Jetpark hotel which is exclusively for symptomatic and Covid possitive arrivals the level of testing was only 57% of staff within the past 2 weeks.

the other option is it came through the ports, there are guys that have to go onboard the ships when they arrive i.e pilots, stevedores, shipping line staff,
they changed the rules so the captain and sailors could not come off a while ago but there is still contact with them and its only a 4 day sailing from melbourne
all of those guys that go onboard dont operate in a (example NRL) bubble but mix with others when they come off the ship
that is my suspicion behind the mass testing of everyone that visits the port of auckland and port of tauranga within 72 hours

There's also another possibility - It DID come from the MIQFs but the vector case is lying through their teeth about contact to avoid prosecution. Most Med. professionals are saying transmission from a surface contact is extremely unlikely. Hopefully NZ doesn't waste a lot of time and money chasing a red herring. Ardern knows if the case originated from a breach of MIQFs AGAIN the electorate would turn on her quickly and severely. It'll be interesting to see if she delays the Election. I pick she will delay but only for a short time, maybe Oct.10.. just enough to appease other parties but not long enough for the results of any investigation to be released beforehand

Rather than the much more likely scenario that a worker in one of the managed isolation facilities contracted the virus from an infected guest and passed it on.

Everyone agrees its much more likely. However there is no confirmed path from the index case to anyone at the border or any traveller, and genomic testing has also returned an inconclusive result.

It's appropriate that the government investigate other possibilities, even if they are unlikely. That's how science is done and how new discoveries are made. After all, nothing has ever happened, until it happens for the first time.

Even in the Jetpark hotel which is exclusively for symptomatic and Covid possitive arrivals the level of testing was only 57% of staff within the past 2 weeks.

Have you got a reference for that statistic please?

Re Jetpark testing statistics. Stuff article from Friday. https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/122446345/coronaviru....
Until 100% of the workers that have worked at any time in the previous 3 weeks in a Managed Isolation facility or in customer-facing border role have had a fresh COVID 19 test. We cannot eliminate the border as a source of the virus. The mystery index case may not have even had symptoms.
Genomic testing is only a fingerprint for the particular version or strain of the virus. Millions of people in the world can be infected with the same virus strain. It does not give information like person A got it from person B. Just that A and B have the same version of the virus.
The strain that is circulating in New Zealand is present in at least the UK and Australia. Doesn't really tell us that much.
Would love to know if all positive NZ cases in managed isolation had genomic testing prior to the outbreak and if so how many of them were infected with this strain. Would obviously speed up the trace and narrow the number of workers needing intensive follow up testing.

Read an article this morning on Newsroom (or might have been RNZ) that there have been ~640 successful genomic sequencing tests done, so given the number of total positive test subjects ~1250, it doesn't seem they can construct the full genome easily.

Thanks for the Jetpark links. I don't understand how they came up with the 57% number though:

There were an additional 140 staff working at quarantine facilities, and 55 people working in transportation of returnees and Covid-19 cases.

A total 130 of the staff at the Jet Park hotel, a quarantine facility in south Auckland, have been tested for Covid-19 in the past 14 days, Stuff has learnt.

This equates to 57 per cent of the workers at the facility, which houses people in Auckland who are confirmed to have Covid-19.

AFAI am aware, Jet Park is the only quarantine facility, so assuming they are including drivers in the figure, 130 / (140 + 55) = 66.66%, not 57%.

If you exclude drivers then it's 130/140 = 93%, which is very respectable.

Genomic testing is only a fingerprint for the particular version or strain of the virus. Millions of people in the world can be infected with the same virus strain. It does not give information like person A got it from person B. Just that A and B have the same version of the virus.

Yes and no. In NZ since we don't have community transmission, knowing the strain of the virus in the community means we can rule out anyone in isolation who had a different strain as being the introduction point.

Further more it does actually slightly mutate from person to person - that's how 'strains' develop in the first place. Have a look at the first diagram in this article: https://theconversation.com/the-coronavirus-genome-is-like-a-shipping-la...

You can see that very very minute variations in the virus can be distinguished from one another. So it can actually be possible to say person A from Australia had a particular strain, but person B from Australia has a slightly different strain, and it is the slightly different strain that is present in community spread in NZ then we can say it didn't originate from person A but did originate from person B.

Of course if there were two people from Australia that happened to have the same strain, and these people were unrelated to each other, then yes it wouldn't be clear which of the people were the root cause of the outbreak in NZ. But again looking at the diagram on that link above, it is actually possible to distinguish very minute differences in the virus from each other, like a fingerprint.

Read the article carefully. 140 is not the number of staff at Jetpark. It does not say the number of staff at Jetpark. It just says 130 Jetpark staff tested equates to 57% of the staff. So the number of staff working at Jetpark is probably about 228.
Yes, it looks like Genomics is highly beneficial in tracing the source of an outbreak and linking people into clusters when there are multiple possible sources of transmission. Especially in a country that has been Covid free in the community for 100 days.
Do all of the cases in the NZ community now have the same genomic version of the virus?
Have we genome sequenced all of the positive Covid19 samples in Managed isolation in the past 100 days? If not, why not?
Hopefully, if we haven't genome sequenced all positive cases in the last month. That we at least kept the samples so we can now.
Then do any of those positive cases in managed isolation within the past month have the same genomic sequence of the Covid19 virus as the cases in the NZ community now? Suggests we could narrow the search pretty fast.

Read the article carefully. 140 is not the number of staff at Jetpark.

I did read it carefully. It says "an additional 140 staff at quarantine facilities". That's why I said AFAI am aware Jetpark is the only quarantine facility, therefore 140 staff is how many are there. It's certainly unclear and poorly worded, because if it were clear it would be obvious how they came up with the 57% figure and it isn't - you're having to assume how many people work at Jetpark and work backwards to get to 57%.

>_<

I simply cannot believe anything we are told on these daily news briefings any more .

Its just a stage -managed pack of lies from Government .

This Government has well and thoroughly screwed us , our economy is heading for the dumpster , and they come on TV every day and feed us more BS .