The positive case identified in Katikati in the Bay of Plenty over the weekend has been retested and the result has been negative, says Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
The Bay of Plenty city of Katikati has been on high alert after a person tested positive for Covid-19 on Saturday.
Ardern said the person had a high CT count, meaning it could be an early infection, a false positive, or a historical case.
“That person was retested for it, and that result last night was negative.”
All members of his family have also tested negative.
Ardern said Morning report that despite the negative result, vaccination and testing rates should remain high.
“This is our message across New Zealand: This Delta outbreak is not just a problem for Auckland.”
Ardern said he was “absolutely” continuing the elimination strategy outside Auckland, and eliminating cases in the Auckland region, even if they could not reach zero.
“Right now we have the capacity for those other areas, when we know how it got there, for example, to reduce it to zero and then the capacity, if we can, to go back, for example, to level 2 environments.
“That is exactly what we are working for in Northland, where we have had a case in Waikato.
“In Auckland, what we are doing today is no different than the first day of this outbreak. We continue to work very hard to aggressively end all the cases we have.
“That doesn’t mean we get to zero.”
Auckland did not have enough vaccinated people and this becomes a “massive uncontrolled outbreak”.
“We haven’t reached zero, and generally that’s what we would have experienced in the past.
“But Delta is very difficult.
“It doesn’t change the fact that we are being very, very aggressive. We continue to use level 3 to help us, but we need to use that time to vaccinate.”
“Vaccines are already making a difference in the number of cases we have now – up to a 50 percent reduction in what we might have otherwise seen.”
Ardern cited Denmark as an example, which had very high vaccination rates and intensive care rates “in the 1920s.”
Alert level updates
Ardern will give an update this afternoon on how testing, mask wear and vaccines will be used in schools, which the Cabinet will consider today, along with any changes to the alert level.
Ardern declined to comment on the possibility of mandatory vaccinations for teachers. “What I can say is that the most important thing to the Cabinet, many of whom are also parents … is what reduces risk, increases confidence and ultimately takes care of our children.”
The government has not considered to date bringing Auckland back to level 4, he said, but “we will constantly assess the outbreak.”
“It is not a particularly sustainable long-term place to retain people because it depends on success at very high levels of compliance.” He didn’t think Auckland dropped to level 3 too soon.
Ardern said a decision had not been made on whether vaccination certificates would be used in hospitality settings, he said.
New south Wales
Ardern said it would not set a goal of opening up to a percentage of fully vaccinated people like New South Wales has done.
The Australian state began easing restrictions on gatherings and hospitality today, now the state has reached 70 percent of the eligible population fully vaccinated.
“You also have to consider how the outbreak is evolving, and the 70 percent of the eligible population is not a large part of the total population and does not tell you anything about the spread in local areas,” Ardern said.
“We’re being a little more particular because ultimately people don’t want to have to constantly use aggressive restraints.”
Ardern reiterated that the vaccine was brought in as soon as possible and there were discussions with Pfizer before the company finished its testing.
“There has been a misrepresentation of that for several weeks that sadly dives into the political space.”