There are two new cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation facilities in New Zealand today, the Ministry of Health has confirmed.
Watch the briefing here:
The first case is a man in his 20s who arrived in New Zealand on 23 July from the Philippines via Hong Kong. He has been in managed isolation at the Rydges in Rotorua and tested negative for Covid-19 around day three of his stay. He has been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility after testing positive around day 12 of his stay in managed isolation, the ministry said.
The second case is a woman in her 40s who arrived in New Zealand on 1 August from the Philippines via Hong Kong. She has been in managed isolation at the Grand Millennium in Auckland, and tested positive around day three of her stay.
It has been 96 days since the last case of Covid-19 was acquired locally from an unknown source, the ministry said.
That brings the total number of active cases in managed isolation facilities in the country to 24.
The total number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 is now 1,219, which is the number reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
There is no one in New Zealand receiving hospital-level care for Covid.
There were 4140 tests processed yesterday for Covid-19, the total number processed to date is now 477,909.
Yesterday, the Ministry of Health said there were no new cases of Covid-19 in the country, but five previously reported cases had recovered.
The Ministry of Health say they are actively considering its advice to the public on use of masks.
"The updated World Health Organisation advice is that masks are effective in helping to reduce the spread of Covid-19 when worn by the public where there are cases of community transmission. The WHO also suggests that people should be prepared for the use of masks before the need to use them arises."
"We know that masks have been successfully used overseas to reduce transmission of Covid-19. Masks can be particularly useful when people are in close proximity to each other - including on public transport, in shops, and in other confined spaces. If there are further outbreaks of Covid-19, masks will be one important component of our strategy for containing the spread of the virus.
Legislation to charge some returnees passes all stages
Minister in charge of managed isolation and quarantine facilities Megan Woods said legislation for charging groups of returnees some of the costs for their stay in isolation facilities passed all stages last night and this morning and is now in place.
"It is an important step to ensure those people that need to come home can do so without being charged."
She said the regulations would come into force around mid-August.
Air Commodore Darryn Webb said the government was in the process of developing technological measures such as CCTV, door alarms, and motion detection systems for managed isolation and quarantine facilities.
"The combination of additional trained staff and technology gives us a strengthened and layered approach," he said.
Webb said "these facilities are not prisons" but they needed to make sure people did not break rules.
He said exemptions would only be approved in "very limited situations", and the majority of exemptions were declined.
There were 148 requests for exemptions from managed isolation last week, Webb said.
He said people, if they were planning to come back to New Zealand for a funeral, should realise it was highly unlikely they would be allowed to attend.
A dedicated website would be set up for those planning to return to New Zealand.
Woods said they had to have the ability to waive fees under the bill of rights.
Woods said they were working with their health colleagues to find out how often people were declining day three tests, and what measures they might bring in to deal with those people.
Guards falling asleep on the job
Woods said she was aware of seven instances of guards falling asleep on the job and said it was "unacceptable".
"This is serious business and we want to make sure people are aware of this."
Air Commodore Webb said there was an attempted breach yesterday at an isolation facility, where someone tried to walk out the front door and a security guard intervened.
The person was handcuffed and taken back to his room where he received a strong verbal warning from police, Woods said.
Emphasis on Covid app use amid warning on community transmission
This morning, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield reiterated his encouragement for people to use the NZ Covid Tracer app, adding that it could potentially prove invaluable in helping prevent another lockdown.
Despite more than 600,000 New Zealanders registering for the app, regular use has been slow to catch on and Health Minister Chris Hipkins has been urging the public to do their part.
Dr Bloomfield warned the public that they should not be complacent about it just because there were no known community transmission cases now. He said that it was inevitable that would happen, and people should be prepared.
"We're working on the basis that it could be at any time ... we have to be absolutely on our toes, and that's not just the health system, that's not just the contact tracing and testing system, it's everybody," Dr Bloomfield told Morning Report.
"That's the value and the importance of people getting into the habit of using the app, getting ready, and recording where they've been."
Shops, restaurants and schools across the country are being asked to redouble their efforts to display QR codes for the Covid scanner app. But Dr Bloomfield said he was not ruling out making it mandatory for businesses to display the codes.
- If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP - don't show up at a medical centre