29 Aug 2021

Covid-19 update: 83 new community cases reported in New Zealand

4:18 pm on 29 August 2021

There have been 83 new community cases of Covid-19 reported in New Zealand today.

 Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield leaving after the Covid-19 response and vaccine update at Parliament

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield leaving after the Covid-19 response and vaccine update at Parliament Photo: Pool / NZME

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says 82 of the new cases are in Auckland, with one new case in Wellington. The Wellington case is a close contact of an existing case, and was in isolation with no exposure in the community while infectious.

Dr Bloomfield and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern have held a media briefing on the latest developments in the government's fight against the Covid-19 Delta outbreak.

Watch the briefing here:

Dr Bloomfield said 34 people are now in New Zealand hospitals with the coronavirus, including two people in ICU. All are in a stable condition.

Three of those cases are in North Shore Hospital, 18 in Middlemore Hospital, 13 in Auckland City Hospital, while one is in Wellington Regional Hospital. Dr Bloomfield said the hospitalisation rate in this outbreak is 6-7 percent which is higher than previous outbreaks.

The total number of confirmed cases associated with the Auckland outbreak is now 511 - 496 in Auckland and 15 in Wellington.

Dr Bloomfield said more than 60 percent of cases are under 30.

He said 453 of the cases to date are epidemiologically linked, with the remaining 58 links being established epidemiologically and through the ongoing genome sequencing.

There have been 32,771 individual contacts that have been formally identified. About 80 percent have been followed up formally by contact tracers.

Dr Bloomfield said more than 1700 contact tracers are trained and available to do the initial calls, as well as all the daily follow ups with the large number of close contacts.

* Follow all the latest developments with RNZ's live blog

There were also two new cases reported in recent returnees in managed isolation today.

The total number of active cases being managed in New Zealand is now 551.

The country remains at alert level four until midnight Tuesday, when all districts south of Auckland will move to alert level three. Aucklanders have warned it may be several more weeks before the city can move down alert levels.

Dr Bloomfield said there were no new unexpected detections of Covid-19 in wastewater to report today. Samples collected in Christchurch after earlier positive results have so far come back negative. More samples will be taken.

Ongoing wastewater testing is occurring - 125 locations so far in this outbreak have been analysed, including 86 in the North Island, and 39 in the South Island.

There were 23,139 swabs processed, with more than 9700 taken yesterday across Tamaki Makaurau, including about a third in general practice. There are still 26 community testing centres open across Auckland today

'Continue to do your bit'

Ardern said the decision to go hard and early in this outbreak was paying dividends, but the public health teams and the health system could not do it alone.

"As always, together we will make a difference, and alert level 4 is something that we can all contribute to, so please, continue to do your bit."

She said there were still "mystery cases" coming through, with people whose infections required investigation. She said this meant people still needed to be vigilant.

Ardern said more than 75 percent of the positive cases reported yesterday were contacts of known cases. More than half of all the cases yesterday were household cases, showing how infectious Delta was.

A total of 25 people had exposure events outside of the household and there tended to be essential work sites that were not customer facing.

"We've asked for further analysis of the nature of these workplaces, so we can assess whether our level 4 rules on who is operating is being adhered to, and whether our public health protocols for those businesses that are operating are fit for purpose.

"We have a small number of workplaces that are operating at level 4 that have seen transmission within staff. I'm advised that it's four in total to date.

"This may not be a problem with the rules, say, on the factory floor but what is happening perhaps before or after shifts, or even during break times. We're looking at all of this in more detail, if we need to tighten up our restrictions further, we will."

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