2 Sep 2021

Covid-19 outbreak day 16 - How it unfolded

7:19 pm on 2 September 2021

Northland has been given to go-ahead to enter level 3 from midnight, meanwhile a man with Covid-19 escaped MIQ and an epidemiologist fears Australia will soon experience "absolute chaos".

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Photo: RNZ

The numbers

  • There are 49 new cases of Covid-19 in the community today.
  • The total number of cases in the outbreak is 736; 709 in Auckland, 16 in Wellington.
  • Eleven people have recovered from the virus this outbreak.
  • There are now 42 people with Covid-19 in Auckland's hospitals.

Man with Covid-19 escapes MIQ

A man who tested positive for Covid-19 escaped a managed quarantine facility in Ellerslie in the early hours of the morning after entering the facility yesterday evening.

He's since been arrested and a judge has bailed him to return to a MIQ facility.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says the alleged escapee was last seen at the Ellerslie MIQ at about 1am and the police were notified at 10:30am. A family member reported them missing.

In a statement, superintendent Steve Kehoe said police were liaising with the Ministry of Health to understand this person's movements since he left the MIQ facility and being located in Ōtāhuhu.

Checkpoints to be set up at Auckland-Northland border

It was news the region had been waiting for, today the prime minister announced Northland will be joining the rest of the country - not including Auckland - in alert level 3.

Following the announcement, have established a number of checkpoints at Auckland's northern border.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said Northland Police will continue to be highly visible and operate checkpoints and random stops inside their district, however they will no longer be located at the three fixed checkpoints locations that have been operating for the past week.

The northern Auckland checkpoints will be set up again at the following locations:

  • SH1/Mangawhai Road (Twin Coast Discovery Highway)
  • Mangawhai Road / north of Coal Hill Road
  • Black Swamp, west of Rako Road
  • Mangawhai Road and Cames Road
  • Mangawhai Road and Ryan Road

Funding boost for Pacific communities

The government is to give a $26 million boost to support Pacific communities during the current outbreak of Covid-19.

Associate Minister of Health Aupito William Sio said the funding would go towards Pacific health and disability services, community vaccination services and improving communications to specific groups within the Pacific community.

The minister said Pacific providers had proven that they are an essential part of the government's response to this outbreak.

"In the August 2020 outbreak and today, they are the heroes on the frontline everyday out there keeping our families and communities safe," he said in a statement.

"These providers are known and trusted by the communities that they both live and work in. They have the language skills and the cultural intelligence required for the most effective response.

"E fofo e le alamea le alamea, the solutions for our challenges lie within communities," he said.

MIQ booking delays

Despite announcing a managed isolation room 'virtual lobby', the government is yet to say when it will be launched.

Currently the scarce MIQ rooms are given to whoever sees them first, so those seeking them have to wait on the website for hours a day.

In July, MIQ co-head Megan Main said some sort of waiting list for MIQ allocations was under consideration.

And yesterday, the government confirmed a 'virtual lobby' would be set up to apportion rooms at random.

However an MIQ spokesperson could not give even a ballpark date of when it will be launched, only saying that work has started on the software.

The National Party is proposing a range of measures to improve the MIQ border booking system, including a waiting list for spaces and a ban on bots booking rooms.

'Low-trust' approach needs to be taken to border crossings - medical expert

University of Auckland emeritus professor of medicine Des Gorman says not enough safety precautions are being taken with those crossing the border south of Auckland.

Yesterday, 23,000 people with exemptions drove out of the city's Covid-19 alert level 4 lockdown.

While police reported few problems, University of Auckland emeritus professor of medicine Des Gorman told Morning Report more health precautions were needed.

"We're dealing with a very infectious virus and I don't think that's an environment where we should assume that a truck driver will go from point A to point B and not call in to see somebody or not stop on the side of the road, not interact with people, I mean what we've done is we've actually paid the price for having a high-trust environment," Gorman said.

"I think we need to have a low-trust environment."

Gorman said all people crossing the border should be required to be vaccinated.

'It will be chaos' - Australian epidemiologist

A top Australian epidemiologist fears Australia will soon experience "absolute chaos", based on its plan for easing Covid restrictions.

The New South Wales government has promised greater freedoms once 70 percent of adults are fully vaccinated.

The state is on track to hit that milestone in mid-October.

But Professor Marylouise McLaws of the University of New South Wales has told Worldwatch it's foolish that the threshold doesn't take children into account.

She fears hospitals will be overrun.

"It will be chaos. And it will be chaos for hospital admissions, and ICU, and ventilation, and we may run out of ventilators."

Victoria has also conceded it won't be able to eliminate the virus.

Fiji Covid-19 death toll passes 500

Eight more people died from Covid-19 in Fiji, taking the death toll past 500.

The Government also confirmed 290 new cases for the 24 hours to 8am yesterday.

Fiji now has 17,124 active cases. There were 2306 recoveries.

There have been 46,936 cases during the outbreak that started in April 2021.

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