Saturday, November 27

Covid-19 lockdown day 6: how it unfolded

All of New Zealand will remain on lockdown until at least Friday, while Auckland will remain at level 4 until at least August 31.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Chief Health Officer Dr. Ashley Bloomfield hold a press conference on the Covid 19 and post-Cabinet update at the Beehive Theatrette.

Jacinda Ardern holding a map showing known Covid-19 contacts are spread across New Zealand.
Photo: Things / Robert Kitchin

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement this afternoon saying Delta had an advantage in New Zealand before the shutdown.

He said early models suggested that the country would not reach the peak of the outbreak until day eight or ten after the lockdown began and New Zealand is currently only at day 6.

Ardern said known contacts span New Zealand and there may be more contacts that are not yet known.

He said the Cabinet made the decision to extend the lockdown on the grounds that the safest option now is to stay the course longer.

The cabinet has decided that all of New Zealand will remain at level 4 for four more days, until 11:59 pm on Friday, August 27. Ardern said these settings would be reviewed on Friday.

Auckland will remain the primary location for the outbreak and will remain at alert level 4 until 11:59 pm on Tuesday, Aug. 31, Ardern said. The level of the Auckland configuration will be reviewed next Monday.

Ardern said the extra time delaying the drop in alert levels gives New Zealand additional data and information and time to conduct tests.

Parliament suspended for a week

Ardern also announced this afternoon that Parliament would be suspended for a week, but said select committees would remain in line.

He said asking ministers to make themselves available to appear before select committees “will allow us to balance security and scrutiny.”

Parliament can be postponed for up to a month during an epidemic according to section 55 of the regulations, but the leaders of all parties must be consulted first and it must be on the written recommendation of the Director General of Health.

Opposition parties have been calling for Parliament to start afresh at Level 4 alert conditions, or reinstate the Epidemic Response Committee at a minimum, saying that the suspension of Parliament is undemocratic.

National leader Judith Collins said important questions needed to be answered about how the Delta variant came to New Zealand, and suspending Parliament meant the government would avoid such scrutiny.

ACT leader David Seymour said it was very different from having an Opposition-led Epidemic Response Committee as seen in the previous closing and, far from all parties agreeing, the decision was “dictated alone by Jacinda Ardern “.

Covid-19 statistics: 35 new community cases

In a statement, the Health Ministry said there were 35 new community cases of Covid-19 today, 33 of them in Auckland and two of them in Wellington.

That brings the total number of cases in the community outbreak to 107, 99 of them in Auckland and eight in Wellington.

Three new managed isolated cases were also announced today.

The ministry said it kept adding locations of interest as public health personnel completed interviews of confirmed cases.

As of Monday night, there were more than 400 locations of interest listed in the ministry website, most of them in Auckland.

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Photo: RNZ

Group of churches of Māngere

The Health Ministry is urging members of a Samoan church to isolate themselves and get tested after several Covid-19 cases were identified in attendance last Sunday.

That includes anyone who went to the Samoa Assembly of God church in Māngere on August 15 between 9 a.m. M. And 3 p.m. M. From that day.

The group has also spread to Wellington with three of the cases now in the capital.

Health CEO Ashley Bloomfield said the church represents the single event with the most cases.

Bloomfield said that more than 50 percent of the Covid-19 cases from this outbreak are ethnic from the Pacific and a further breakdown of cases by ethnicity is in the works.

Crowne Plaza Research

At the briefing on alert levels, Ardern said that the public walkway at the Crowne Plaza MIQ facility in Auckland had not been established as a problem.

He said it has barriers between ventilation and, and has been evaluated by infection control experts, but “we have not ruled out anything on or off at this time.”

Health authorities have revealed the time that the person with the first identified case of the Delta variant was in the lobby of the Crowne Plaza hotel.

They say that if the broadcast had taken place in the lobby, it would have been on Saturday, August 7, between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.

The Health Ministry has been trying to locate six people who were on an adjacent walkway at the time.

Of the six, four have been identified by CCTV and three of them have tested negative. Two remain to be identified.

Contact tracing system under pressure

By Monday night, there were more than 400 places of interest and more than 13,000 close contacts in the Auckland outbreak.

Contact trackers are working around the clock as they try to locate people who potentially came into contact with the virus at race events, in supermarkets, in fast food outlets and on public transportation.

Auckland authorities are urgently hiring more contact trackers to meet the demand.

Laboratories, testing sites and vaccination centers are also struggling as the health system struggles to keep up with the incursion of the Delta.

Dr Bloomfield said the country’s contact tracing system was working 100 percent, with its Covid surge plan in full use.

Ardern said he has not heard of a case where the contacts were not at home when the trackers contacted them. He said it is very encouraging to see the lack of cases that have been infectious in the community, compared to what has been seen in New South Wales.

The police are ‘satisfied’ with the implementation of the blockade despite the infractions

Generally, people are complying with the shutdown, although a small number of incidents still show up, police say.

As of 5 p.m. yesterday, 29 people across the country had been charged with 33 crimes related to breach of lockdown rules since it came into effect at 11:59 p.m. on August 17.

Those arrests were mainly the result of protests over the lockdown.

Another 85 people received a warning.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said public behavior was generally good.

“Officers will remain outside of our communities, particularly in high-demand places like supermarkets and Covid-19 testing and vaccination sites,” he said.

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