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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.