7 Sep 2021

Covid-19: 21 new community cases in NZ today

2:50 pm on 7 September 2021

There are 21 new community cases of Covid-19 in the country today.

A testing station for Assembly of God congregations in Māngere.

A Covid-19 testing station in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said all the new cases were all in Auckland.

Dr Bloomfield said there was one additional case yet to be determined a border or community case.

Of the new cases today, Bloomfield said seven of these were within one whānau, and epidemiological tracing was trying to find out which of those seven people were infected first.

He said all the cases that had been sequenced in the outbreak had been clearly linked.

He said the outbreak now totalled 841 cases, and of those 147 had recovered.

The total number of unlinked cases had fallen from 33 yesterday to 24 today, thanks to the efforts of public health units, he said.

Analysis of yesterday's 20 cases shows 17 were contacts of known cases and 16 were household contacts already isolating. Just four were infectious in the community leading to eight exposure events.

The contact tracing database now has 37,971 contacts, a drop from yesterday after work to reconcile duplicates.

About 91 percent of contacts identified have had a test.

Some 7255 swabs were processed in labs yesterday, with about 5800 of those in metropolitan Auckland.

"The most important message from me today is if you have symptoms, please get tested," Bloomfield said.

He said he wanted to be seeing about 7000 tests a day, and it will be supplemented by targeted testing of essential workers.

Saliva testing wss being accelerated, he said, with a contract with a further provider being finalised and it is hoped to be available for workers who might need weekly testing because they are travelling across the Auckland boundary.

More than 830 border workers have now signed up for saliva testing, Bloomfield said, and it will become available to more people over time.

Bloomfield said border workers signed up to saliva testing will be mostly tested every two days.

He said there are other employers also doing their own saliva testing.

"It's a drool into a cup, rather than a nasopharingeal swab ... there are no capacity constraints with our current provider who's providing it across the border [workforce], however we are just finalising a contract with an additional provider ... for people who will be going across the Auckland boundary and also to support some of the other focused surveillance testing if needed across some of those employers across the Auckland region in the next few weeks."

Regarding the case that was found at Middlemore Hospital, Bloomfield said it simply was not practical to be testing every person who entered the hospital. He says there are red or green lanes depending on whether people are suspected to have Covid.

"People were wearing appropriate PPE for the circumstances for which the person was being assessed and managed at the time."

On vaccinations, more than 66,000 were delivered yesterday.

"Over 60 percent of eligible New Zealanders have had their first dose and nearly a third are fully vaccinated," Bloomfield said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reiterated this morning that "elimination is absolutely the right thing for us right now while we're vaccinating".

She would not say how many people needed to be vaccinated before stricter lockdowns are phased out. About 60 percent of the population has had its first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Except for the Auckland region, the country will move down alert levels, and this time alert level 2 comes with tougher rules.

Auckland stays in level 4 until 11.59pm next Tuesday 14 September; rest of New Zealand drops alert levels from level 3 to level 2 from 11.59pm tonight.

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