There are no new Covid-19 cases in the community today after some “strong” testing numbers in the last 48 hours.
There are three new cases of Covid-19 in our managed isolation facilities.
Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins and health chief Ashley Bloomfield are announcing the latest information on new cases of Covid-19 at the Beehive.
At midnight Auckland moved out of level 3 lockdown after Cabinet – on health advice from Bloomfield – decided the Covid cases were well-contained and it was safe to move the region into alert level 2.
Bloomfield said the fact there were no new cases in the community provided continued assurance the outbreak was contained.
Bloomfield urged Kiwis to check the locations of interest identified by the Ministry of Health and follow the instructions for each location.
As of 11.30am this morning, all 31 close contacts from Papatoetoe High School have tested negative – besides the student who tested positive yesterday.
There were 1490 casual plus contacts – of those 1398 have tested negative.
Ninety-one results are still outstanding, but of those health officials are working to match 75 results with health records.
Bloomfield said any student or teacher at every school in New Zealand who felt ill should stay home and get advice about whether to get a test. Papaptoetoe school is closed until Monday.
The genome sequencing on the cases announced yesterday – the 12-year-old girl and the 16-year-old – is identical to the other family who tested positive and Bloomfield said the chain of transmission has been proven to be the Papatoetoe High School student infecting her classmate.
Student worked at McDonald’s
The 16-year-old case announced yesterday worked a “short shift” at McDonald’s on Cavendish Drive and anyone who was there at the same time is considered low-risk.
Some co-workers were identified as close contacts and will be self-isolating for 14 days and tested twice.
Bloomfield said the contact tracing system was working well.
The most likely source for the new outbreak remains the airport link from the LSG Sky Chefs worker who tested positive, but there is still no clear chain of transmission, Bloomfield said.
A “possible genomic similarity” has been identified between the recent cases and someone who tested positive while in managed isolation at the Four Points Sheraton in Auckland.
Health officials are investigating whether mingling at the break room at LSG Sky Chefs could have been where the woman was exposed.
Person-to-person transmission remains the most likely cause of infection, Bloomfield said.
Hipkins said there was “absolutely” the possibility they couldn’t definitively find the source of the infection – but could get to a point where they have a scenario which they think happened.
The vaccination programme for the 12,000 frontline border workers is still on track to begin on Saturday after a successful end-to-end dry run.
“The trial run took place in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch yesterday afternoon, ahead of the vaccination programme formally kicking off on Saturday,” Hipkins said.
“Officials have been working on logistics for months, and the dry run gave them an opportunity to stress test the system, identify any gaps and put plans in place for any event.”
Hipkins said the systems were “robust and flexible”.
“Testing included things such as vaccines being dropped and technology systems being temporarily unavailable, and included the arrival of a thermal protection box used to transport the vaccine to validate the safe and secure handover process.”
One hundred vaccinators will start to receive their vaccines tomorrow.
Bloomfield said when they ordered the Pfizer vaccine – which needs to be kept at -70C – there was a 15 per cent wastage built into the order but they now expected to get that number down to thanks to improved systems.
Masks compulsory on public transport
Hipkins reminded all New Zealanders they now have to wear face coverings on public transport.
The rest of the country is now in alert level 1 but masks are still mandatory on public transport.
This requirement will be reviewed by Cabinet on Monday alongside the current alert levels.
The Cook Strait ferry is an exception to the masks on public transport rule.
In Ubers and taxis drivers have to wear masks and passengers are encouraged to wear one.
Hipkins said the spike in Covid Tracer scans needed to continue.
“Everybody please keep scanning QR Codes.”
Hipkins called the border workers the “national heroes” of the Covid-19 response who needed support from their communities.
“We need to keep them doing what they’re doing.”
Hipkins said hesitancy to work in MIQ was mostly because of the scrutiny the workers experienced – and they were looking at how to improve work conditions further beyond ensuring they were all on the living wage and on permanent contracts.
Hipkins said people should realise the Covid response has been refined since the start of the pandemic which was why Auckland was able to move out of lockdown last night – a move which surprised some people.
He said they could work “very quickly” to isolate and stamp out the outbreak.
“The real test was did we do enough testing in the right places” to have the confidence to move out of lockdown, said Hipkins.
Staff at a South Auckland workplace where a woman tested positive for Covid-19 have all tested negative for the virus.
LSG Sky Chefs, based in Māngere, made the announcement in a statement to media just before 10.30am.
“A comprehensive test of all LSG Sky Chefs employees – conducted mainly on site by a task force from the local health authority – showed that no other member of the workforce is infected,” a spokeswoman for the company said.
The Māngere facility for LSG Sky Chefs, near the Auckland international and domestic airports, is the workplace of a woman from the family in Papatoetoe that tested positive for Covid-19 – and resulted in Auckland going into an alert level 3 lockdown at the weekend.
There have been close to 23,000 tests taken since the first new community cases were discovered.
But there was still one close contact whose test was outstanding and 363 “casual plus” contacts’ tests outstanding.