New Covid-19 cases were down significantly today, from a worrying 45 new cases yesterday to 19.
One of the new cases was on the outskirts of Auckland – a high school student in North Hauraki who had been self-isolating for 10 days and tested positive after becoming symptomatic.
The government said it still had extensive control of the Delta outbreak.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said maintaining control was key as vaccination rates rose.
“We just don’t have enough vaccinated people in Auckland or New Zealand to tolerate a widespread outbreak, but maintaining control is not a given,” he said.
“We still need the restraints that we are using, I know they are incredibly difficult and will ease, but for now they are doing a job for us, so we need people to follow them.”
Two new subgroups were identified in Auckland: the Auckland Southeast group and the West Auckland group.
“It’s those two subgroups that are really giving rise to the new cases right now,” Director General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield told the media this afternoon.
Of today’s cases, 16 were known household or other contacts, one was a previously unidentified household contact, and the other was a potential contact.
“We expect another 30 or so cases in the next few days from testing on day five and day 12,” said Bloomfield.
Ardern confirmed today that the travel limit around the Auckland region would be maintained, even if the current alert level 3 restrictions were relaxed. Cabinet is reviewing the country’s alert level setting on Monday.
Low tests in the suburbs
Only 7 percent of those living in Auckland’s suburbs of interest have been tested for Covid-19.
Henderson, Papakura, Clover Park, Māngere, Favona, Manurewa, and Mt Wellington / Sylvia Park have been associated with unrelated cases and known clusters.
It was revealed today that 12,974 residents of those suburbs had been screened since last Monday, just 7 percent of the 183,729 people living in the areas.
Fast track visas
Thousands of migrant workers caught in visa limbo will soon have the opportunity to apply for expedited residency.
The government released details today of its single resident visa that it could apply to some 110,000 people already in New Zealand.
Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said Morning report some 55,000 family members already here in New Zealand would be covered.
The unique 2021 resident visa includes more than 5,000 health and elderly care workers, around 9,000 primary industry workers, and more than 800 teachers.
Faafoi said that some construction and manufacturing workers would also be eligible.
The government confirmed that it was considering buying MIQ hotels and turning them into quarantine facilities.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said trade negotiations were underway, so he couldn’t go into details. He said having facilities near an airport and staff was crucial.
“Well, there are a variety of possibilities, including buying the Greenfield site,” he said.
“But there is also the potential to convert other facilities and put a significant amount of capital works on an existing facility, for example, or a range of existing facilities, to move them to a more ideal quarantine setting.”
Border Police Figures
As of 11:59 PM on September 29, a total of 368,079 vehicles had been stopped at checkpoints on Auckland’s northern and southern limits, with a total of 6,039 vehicles having turned around.
Police said there were 23,060 vehicles processed at checkpoints yesterday, and 270 of those vehicles were turned around.
Police had also received 1,257 online rape notifications related to businesses, mass gatherings or people in Tāmaki Makaurau and Upper Hauraki.
Hurricanes Player Apologies
Hurricanes are on the loose and Wellington rugby captain Du’Plessis Kirifi apologized today after being caught throwing a party during the Alert Level 4 lockdown. He said he had learned a valuable lesson.
Kirifi, 24, and her partner Mila Reuelu-Buchanan, a Northern Stars netballer player, were fined by the police for organizing and attending parties.
Kirifi admitted that it was a foolish decision to host the meeting on his Porirua property. He and his partner also attended a meeting in Titahi Bay.
Highway spikes stop running away from the driver
Police revealed today that officers used pickaxes on the road and an Eagle helicopter to catch a driver who fled a police checkpoint on the Auckland border yesterday.
Police say the man was returned at a checkpoint south of Auckland for having no evidence that he was allowed to travel and no evidence of a recent Covid-19 test.
A police Eagle helicopter monitored the vehicle and it was eventually stopped by highway spikes some 50 km away near Puriri on the Hauraki Plains. The driver was arrested.
Concern over vaccination rates for Maori grows
Maori health advocates today expressed growing concern about the growing number of Covid-19 cases among Maori.
Of the number of people with active cases in Auckland, 39 percent are Maori.
Sue Crengle, co-leader of the National Māori Pandemic Group, said that, with that community particularly vulnerable, the numbers are worrying.
He said it was important to remove barriers for Maori healthcare providers to lead the response.
Pacific Music Awards Online
The Pacific Music Awards will be held online rather than being a live event in Auckland due to Covid-19 restrictions. Tagata Pasifika will screen the awards on November 6.
Pacific Music Awards Trust spokesperson Reverend Mua Strickson-Pua said the decision was made with the well-being of the communities in mind.