Saturday, December 4

Evidence from Waikato Covid-19 Cases Probably Linked to Current Group – Robertson

The small Waikato community where new cases of Covid-19 have emerged have been told to isolate themselves and undergo a Covid-19 test, says the deputy prime minister.

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Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Three people from a family in Whakatīwai tested positive for Covid-19 after a member of their household was found to have tested positive while on remand at Auckland’s Mount Eden Prison.

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said Morning report Officials have advised the city to get tested, but the Cabinet will wait to see what advice it receives before deciding whether to move the region to a higher alert level.

The Waikato is currently at Alert Level 2.

“Both Alert Level 3 and Level 4 have significant restrictions in terms of movement. Level 2 also has restrictions on distancing and wearing masks, etc.”

Roberston says there is no indication that the case came from Waikato and preliminary indications show that there may be an epidemiological link to one of the current groups.

“It is more likely that it was brought there and we are working through the contacts this person has with other potential groups that we are still working on.”

The person on remand at Mount Eden Prison was transferred on bail to a Waikato address on September 8.

“We know from the GPS tracking, because they were free on bail, that they stayed at the address until September 16.”

On September 16, the person appeared in court and was taken to Mt Eden for pretrial detention. It was in the transfer that they were tested for Covid-19, standard practice for Corrections.

It is within the power of the Court to rescue someone to an address outside the Alert Level 4 area, Robertson said.

The person’s family, two children and an adult, have since tested positive.

There are nine people in the home, he said. There is an outstanding result and five members of the household tested negative.

Robertson says one of the children may have had symptoms at school late last week and those school contacts were asked to isolate themselves and get tested.

There is a pop-up test station at the marae in Whakatīwai so others can be tested, he said.

“Obviously, anyone in the wider area should consider isolating themselves and getting tested.”

Robertson says the 20 cases on Saturday have been linked to the current outbreak.

“What that indicates, as officials have said in recent days, we don’t think we have widespread community transmission. What we have is a series of groups where, because Delta is what it is, and when it reaches a home , many people are infected, we will see a reasonable number of cases.

“What we are particularly focused on is whether we see cases arising, which would mean that we did not have the outbreak under control.”

With Delta, numbers are just one factor in decision making, he said.

“An important factor is whether we have uncontrolled transmission or transmission outside of homes.”

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