Covid update: Director of Public Health says there are seven new Covid cases, including one imported one

Covid update: Director of Public Health says there are seven new Covid cases, including one imported one

There are six new Covid-19 cases in the community - and one case identified in isolation, bringing a total of seven new cases.

Among the six community cases, five were household contacts and one was a workplace contact, all linked to the Auckland cluster.

One of the cases was a student at Mount Albert Grammar, who had not been at school since August 12.

There are 10 people in hospital, with two of these in ICU, one at North Shore and one at Middlemore.

A total of 15 people had recovered, leaving the number of active cases at 126, with 11 of these imported. 

There were 9257 tests processed on Wednesday, bringing the total to 719,320.

New Zealand's total number of cases now stands at 1351.

The update on Thursday was provided by Director of Public Health Caroline McElnay and Minister of Health Chris Hipkins.

McElnay also gave an update on the situation regarding the new 'mini-cluster' at the Mount Roskill evangelical fellowship church. 

She said there were now eight people associated with this mini cluster, all were close contacts of each other. Three had been linked via genome testing to the Auckland cluster but an epidemiological link was still being sought. 

She reiterated that people who had attended services at that church on August 8, 9, or 11 or attended a wedding there on August 7, who might become unwell, should contact Healthline.

Asked if he was nervous about Auckland returning to Level 2 as of next Monday with these numbers still being reported, Hipkins said, no, he wasn't, because all the cases were still within the identifiable cluster. "We know what we are dealing with."

It was not essential for Auckland to be reporting zero numbers before going to Level 2, he said.

McElnay said while desirable, it was not essential for epidemiological links to be made for all cases in order to be satisfied that a cluster was contained. During the first outbreak clusters had been identified and contained without all epidemiological links being established.

Hipkins revealed details about the new rules for wearing face coverings on public transport from Monday.

He says wearing a face covering on public transport is the right thing do and will help keep New Zealanders safe from Covid-19.

From Monday it will be compulsory for everyone aged 12 and over to wear a face covering on public transport and planes under Alert Level 2 and above, with certain exemptions for health, disability and practicality reasons.

Also on Thursday the final report of the Contact Tracing Assurance Committee (CTAC), led by Sir Brian Roche, was released.

The Committee was tasked with reviewing progress against the recommendations of an earlier, Verrall, report.

“The report concludes that New Zealand is now in an increasingly strong position, with an improved contact tracing regime,” Hipkins said.

“Work-ons in the report included scenario planning and system stress-testing, which the Ministry was in the final stages of planning until overtaken by real-life events in Auckland.

“More than two weeks on from the Auckland outbreak, contact tracing continues to be effective. As of yesterday, teams had identified 2,422 close contacts of cases, of which 2,368 had been moved into isolation."

This is the statement Hipkins put out on compulsory face covering wearing on public transport:

Health Minister Chris Hipkins says wearing a face covering on public transport is the right thing do and will help keep New Zealanders safe from COVID-19.

From Monday it will be compulsory for everyone aged 12 and over to wear a face covering on public transport and planes under Alert Level 2 and above, with certain exemptions for health, disability and practicality reasons.

“New Zealand has had real success in taking collective action to contain and stamp out COVID-19 because we’ve worked as a team,” Chris Hipkins said.

“I know this is big change and will take some getting used to but it is a small thing we can all do that helps us get back to the freedoms of Level 1.

“The advice from health officials is clear – the use of face coverings can reduce the risk of people spreading COVID-19, particularly where it is hard to maintain physical distance from others. Masks and face coverings do not replace physical distancing – they complement other public health measures.

“We want to make this as easy as possible, so any form of face covering will do. If you don’t have a mask you can use a scarf or bandana.

“We encourage everyone to get three or four washable masks each and are also investigating the potential distribution of reusable masks to those most in need.

“We know that some people won’t be able to wear masks for personal and medical reasons. Please be supportive of people as they get to grips with this new policy.

“Today I can also confirm that we will release a further three million masks for national distribution over the coming days as a one-off boost to immediate supply. This will be distributed among iwi, social services groups and community foodbanks in centres and regions where there is public transport.

“It will take time for people to adapt. Not everyone will have a face covering ready for the Monday morning commute but pretty quickly we will see face coverings become commonplace on public transport,” Chris Hipkins said.

NOTE:

The order today sets out that at Level 2 and above:

  • Face coverings should be worn on public transport and aircraft. That includes trains, buses, and ferries.
  • They don’t need to be worn:
    • By children under 12
    • On school buses
    • On charter or group tours 
    • On interisland ferries
    • On private flights
    • By private contractors of air services such as top-dressers
    • These groups are already likely within each other’s bubbles as part of a registered group or have space to physically distance.
  • In addition, face coverings do not need to be worn by:
    • Passengers of small passenger vehicles, such as taxis and uber. But drivers will be required to wear masks.
    • People with a disability or physical or mental health condition that makes covering their face unsuitable do not have to wear face coverings also.
    • There will be other times when it is not required – such as in an emergency, if unsafe, if people need to prove their identity or to communicate with someone who is deaf, or if required by law.

Not wearing a face covering on public transport will become an offence, punishable by a $300 infringement notice or a fine of up to a $1000 imposed by the courts. Enforcement of the rules will be light touch - starting with engagement, encouragement and education.

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49 Comments

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whilst in no way wanting to extend our current lockdown-- i thought that the MOH and Government were extremely clear first time around - that the correct health response - involved at least 14 days - one clear cycle of the virus - without any cases! there is no medical change so why now are we going to drop to level two when we are still not only getting several cases each day and as also unable to identify the full physical transmission routes - sequencing is one thing -- but does not allow us to identify close contacts of everyone in the transmission sequence dropping the levels appears to be a [political decision - not a health related one

When they announced the extension community cases were arriving at 5 - 10 daily. They still are. The reasonable expectation then was that Auckland would relax from level 3 based on that situation. Otherwise surely the government would have said there would need to be by then a quantified reduction in the daily community numbers. I believe a majority of Aucklanders will consider themselves as having been misled if level 3 continues into next week, unless there is a significant spike in numbers over the next three days.

They've said repeatedly it's not about the raw numbers of cases, it's about the circumstances in which the cases arise. The bus case and the 'mini cluster' at the church are items of concern because of their potential to materially extend the perimeter of the infection beyond the groups and communities currently known to be involved.

If we don't get any further such infections - and the church one happened something like 3 weeks ago - then Auckland will be able to move down to L2 on Sunday as planned.

The problem is if any cases have slipped through the net, and thus create new mini-clusters akin to this church one next week once community gatherings (although limited to 10 people) and cafes and restaurants can open.

As said, something significant, in the negative sense, would need to occur then, between now and the end of the week, to justify the continuation of level 3. And politically, it would be naive to think that the government is not sensitive to the political sway Auckland possesses, and the ramifications of, rightly or wrongly, knowledgeably or ignorantly, pissing off a whole lot of Aucklanders.

Yes I agree. I don't want to extend either. But if the alternative is a hard, level 4 lockdown for 6 weeks in September/October then I would prefer to extend now.

I think the government would have decided to remain at level 3 if they could afford it. It might involve political considerations, but I doubt there is a lot especially when the cluster is on Labour's turf (South Auckland).

If they make the wrong decision, it could be the end to their good numbers. But I would have expected to see the numbers drop by now. Why aren't they testing everyone in the community. eg going around all houses at night and testing everyone. I understand they did this in Wuhan when they got a second outbreak. They are nor Covid free apparently.

Why aren't they testing everyone in the community. eg going around all houses at night and testing everyone

Lots of reasons:
1. Testing isn't mandatory and you can't compel people to take a test
2. Tests cost about $200 each to process. Unsure whether this includes the time of the people administering the tests.
3. Tests can give quite a high rate of false negatives for people who don't yet have symptoms. Since the advice is "if you have symptoms, get tested", testing asymptomatic people who aren't suspected to have any link to an existing case is likely a waste of resources and may give a false sense of security.
4. A test is still just a moment in time. People can become infected immediately after returning a negative result.
5. The most effective thing is for people to self-isolate for 14 days. Lockdown level 3 and level 4 are basically enforcing a level of self-isolation on *everyone* in a community, as a way to avoid having to test everyone (which as noted from 1-4 is not effective / efficient use of resources - you could spend $200M on testing and still miss a case and a single case is all that's needed to start the ball rolling again).

Yes but those reasons negate the Ministry of health own reasoning for increasing the testing in this area in the first place, as a form of assurance to the community. eg They are likely to say they have performed 70,000 tests in teh last week, and have only found x number of cases, so we are confident that we have it ringfenced. But it is the cases they haven't found that are the problem. There are at least 3 people who have the virus that link to the border, and between a mini cluster, and a person in hospital, which they haven't been found yet.

$200 is nothing compared to the costs of lockdown. But that is diluted the more tests they do. Plus it largely pays for people to do the tests. So all that money stays in NZ and recycled in the economy. So it isn't like it is money going out of the country.
Only a very small percentage of people are refusing tests, as shown by the numbers refusing them in isolation hotels, are refusing them.

Bloomfield said his advice to the government was to extend level 3 lockdown till this Sunday.

But I have a sneaking suspicion that may have been one of several scenarios offered to cabinet, and it's a lie by omission.

I suspect the answer was "Extend until Sunday and then review before making a decision" rather than "signpost it seven days out, before you've even announced the ramp-up in testing to know whether it's a goer in the first place".

The reality is no one is going to pay attention to social distancing this weekend, so they got themselves to Friday, so there'd have been three days of additional testing with a focus on Auckland. If it's still out there, it's going to be everywhere by Sunday night.

If that is the case, and and I suspect that you are right, then they are very foolish.
The virus does not play by political rules and will drive a bus through them.
I suspect that we will get a huge suge latter on like Melbourne and be plunged into level 4 for a prolonged period.
They should also be requiring preflight testing for all people comming into the country.
The problem with National now having suggested it, is that Labour will be resistant to back down and introduce it. Especially before an election. (very foolish because a strong leader doesn't care were a good idea comes from) They are going to end up on the wrong side of history because the world trend is toward preflight testing and far better quick screening tests are now becoming available. They are not perfect but then neither is the current PCR test. Just catching 80% of the infected potential entrants before they get on a plane would be a huge advance.

Govt should just put a pack of 10 masks into each letter box, start with worst affected areas.

Clearly the plan is to get everyone used to living with a low level of the virus. This is the only way forward that makes sense and that fact is dawning on the authorities now. Things are a little better understood and the virus is not as lethal or as complicated as first thought.

I think the stock level of face masks is also a factor.

Govt is still not quarantining air crews. Leaving the door wide open for the next outbreak. So what is the point of lockdown?

Because the government did not have any confidence in the prompt identification of the infection source. They could not assess the magnitude of the spread either. Lockdown was their only option.

Yes, I can see a move away from elimination to suppression over the next few weeks.

I can't - it would blow the election wide open. I don't think is likely until after the election has been run.

Good point. They won't...

I think they would only move to that sort of stance once vaccines are available in the country. They'd say "right, now that our frontline health staff and most vulnerable communities have been vaccinated, we are moving to a suppression rather than elimination strategy. We're going to keep doing what we're doing now and will still contact trace any outbreaks and have targeted use of vaccines to limit spread of outbreaks, but we don't foresee going back into level 3 or level 4 lockdown from now on".

This could be as soon as Q1 next year.

which represents a complete and utter U turn - and effectively would be a two fingered salute to everything that has been achieved -- all the sacrifices made, jobs and livelihoods lost - i am not saying thats a wrong move - but its completely opposed to every statement made over the last six months of the best economic response is a strong health response and eradication not suppressing the curve is our stated goal

...which is why you do it, but without announcing it. E.g. we're moving down to L2 before we've had a day of zero cases, whereas we waited about two weeks after Lockdown 1.0 before we even contemplated moving to L3.

Our health system wouldn't cope. Even with just over 100 cases this time, it puts a lot of demand on the health system (20% of cases seem to need hospital care, and around 5% ICU care). Also means anyone 60 plus will be effectively under isolation at home until a vaccine. Makes the 14 managed isolation that returnees have to 'endure' look like a walk in the park.

10 in hospital out of 130 active cases is 8%, 2 in ICU is ~2%, then there are a whole lot of uncounted cases of asymptomatic and people who shrug it off immediately. More and more studies on hydroxychloroquine showing it can drop hospitalisations by a third to a half if taken immediately upon exposure (little to no benefit after get sick). Ivermectin similar, and a number of other drugs also look to be beneficial. https://twitter.com/covid19crusher?lang=en

Who's going to believe bold statements about the effectiveness of medications, backed by a reference to twitter?

As you are too lazy to read, here is the linked summary list of 6 papers from different countries and authors and their consistent results:
https://twitter.com/Covid19Crusher/header_photo
Standard treatment for wuflu is basically do nothing until hospitalized. Being able to use a 70 year old cheap and safe medicine to significantly improve upon the average outcome is wonderful news (aside from the orange man bad anguish).

So 6 pages on twitter make it believable? I have a bridge for sale....interested?

(aside from the orange man bad anguish).

It wasn't really "orange man bad anguish", it was "orange man inappropriately spruiks unproven drugs to useful idiots who will buy them up and use them regardless of their safety or efficacy". It's what he said that was the problem, not the fact that it was him who said it (because of course he's the only person who would say what he did in the way that he did).

At least one person died as a direct result of his actions.

You are taking about a snapshot in time. But some have been in hospital and been released. There have been more in ICU than just 2. Maybe it is 2 today. There were also 3 in ICU earlier in the week. So we don't know the exact number that individual cases that have needed ICU care in total so far.

Two questions.

A. Does anyone know/able to confirm the number of people that attended the Mt Roskill church both
1. The wedding
2. The church service.
Dates being 7 to 11 August, hence cases now being seen.

B. Can anyone confirm when/if sewage testing anywhere in Auckland region conducted.

yes they are doing sewage testing
Hon Dr MEGAN WOODS (Minister of Research, Science and Innovation): Waste-water testing is taking place as part of a research project led by Environmental Science and Research (ESR), with funding from the COVID innovation fund that I established in early April. Positive results for viral RNA have been received from four of the five collection points in Auckland. The latest results are the Jet Park Hotel, with strong, positive results on 18 August, which is to be expected, given it is our quarantine facility; the Southern Interceptor, where waste water from the Jet Park Hotel mixes with waste water from 100,000 households, a positive result on 18 August; the Central Interceptor, a weak positive result on 17 August; the Rosedale Interceptor, a weak positive result on 13 August. There have been no positive results from the Western Interceptor collection point. These results correspond with what we know about the location of cases across Auckland. These results tell us that there is COVID-19 in these areas but do not give us precise information about the number of people infected or the stage of infection. One-off testing was also carried out in Christchurch and Queenstown in early August, returning negative results.

Good to see they've been having poositive results.

Thanks, I wasn't aware of this.

Yes - a very interesting line of questioning https://vimeo.com/451361507 - does make one wonder where they were headed with the supplementary questions around dates, and that maybe National knows a little more than they were letting on? Wonder how the testing in Tokoroa is coming along.

I wonder if they have run analysis on the last 3 months of poo too? It is a pity that the poo from Covid cases in the quarantine is fouling (literally) the community testing results. So it isn't really able to show if there were covid cases out there in the community. I guess it is only really going help those communities that don't have quarantine facilities in them.

The numbers given were 400 for the wedding and 200 for each of the church services - but presumably there would be substantial double-ups of people within those figures.

even with double ups -- wew are still talking about a huge number of people who were free to move around for a significant period before we entered lockdown and may include a large number of essential workers who have now spent nearly three weeks in the community = ouch ouch ouch if that is the case

TV3 only mentioned 400, but that was just at the wedding. So we don't know if the 200 at the other services were double-ups, or potentially it could be 800. It sounds like it could be 'up to' 800. eg Some people may have gone to one of the services, but not to the wedding . From the shots of the building they use, it looks quite small, I really hope the cases are not the tip of the iceberg.

NZX still out. This from Spark on DDOS management:
As it’s managed at the Global Gateway that connects New Zealand to the world, malicious traffic is blocked at the point it enters the country – keeping it well away from your business and also eliminating any of your bandwidth usage.
These days, blocking a single IP address is not enough to stop attacks that come flooding in from many different sources to overwhelm your bandwidth or saturate your network or apps.

Two months ago Ardern promised us all those in isolation would be tested but is it happening ? - no. She is unable to say how many have failed to be tested on day 3 because, incredibly, no records are kept. Today she gushes that she will 'very quickly' respond to the current Christchurch CDHB meltdown, yet for a month prior she had ignored a letter from senior clinicians warning of trouble ahead. Does she just make things up, express what she'd like to happen with no real idea of how to make it so or is it just spin to keep the masses docile ?

to be fair it is not her fault . She is only responsible for "leadership".

And being the minister for performing arts and theatrical presentation

Fully expecting Level 2 to be extended beyond 6th Sept and actually don't have a problem if it was extended to the end of the year and beyond.

To us introverts Level 2 is just normal life.

Agree, apart from face masks coming in you can get on with things in L2. Issue is will they Leave AKL in L3, cant see numbers going away for the next few days, but the economic hurt and pressure must be huge not too stay a L3, but if the don't then it makes a mockery of the last three weeks for them.

WHEN'S THE BLOODY NZX GONNA OPEN... FFS!!!!

When will the boarder reopen? When will tourism resume as normal? When will the economic insanity of lockdowns come to an end? When will the government acknowledge the obvious, that Sweden and the like made the better choice.

very surprised the judge did this, this to me was a massive let down by all involved from both sides in communication which led to a bad decision, it sounded like they were going to get taken to see the body but arranging the logistics was taking so long because they were in rotorua
if those in charge knew about the situation why send them to rotorua? surely they could have found space in auckland, and if they were in auckland , the body could have been brought to the hotel for them for a few hours, (they have done this for others). and this whole situation would not have happened at all
this to me is an outcome of lots of bad decisions all around from both sides.
i hope those in charge have reviewed what happened so next time there are better choices and outcomes made.
i guess it depends on the judge you get as to sentence
the guy whom broke out to get booze was only fined 1000 and 40 hours community service, very weak sentence in my mind
the women in auckland got a 6 month suspend sentence, she has mental issues
A bereaved mother who led her children's escape from an isolation facility in Hamilton to attend their father's tangi has been jailed for 14 days.
https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12360207
https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/man-sentenced-over-booze-run...
https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/422702/woman-given-suspended-sentenc...

another day another border revelation , i hope the ship agents self isolate for 14 days (but i doubt that most go straight back to the office) and do a deep clean of their car
https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/122543232/concerns-internati...