15 Jul 2020

Two new cases of Covid-19 in NZ today

1:40 pm on 15 July 2020

There are two new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand's managed isolation facilities today, Dr Ashley Bloomfield has confirmed.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins and the Director-General of Health have given the latest Covid-19 update.

Watch the update here:

The two new cases are a man in his 60s - arriving 10 July from Pakistan via Dubai - and a woman in her 50s who came from Dublin via Dubai.

Both are in managed isolation in Rotorua.

There are now 27 active cases in this country, but it has now been 75 days since the last case of community transmission.

There has been a total of 1197 confirmed cases in New Zealand.

Dr Bloomfield said the country needed to continue testing in the community and outlined the new clarifications of testing for clinicians, released yesterday.

He said people at the Novotel in Ellerslie - whose tests took longer than expected to be returned yesterday - have all come back negative.

Hipkins said the updated advice confirmed that testing remained free.

"If people are offered a test, I strongly encourage them to take it."

Dr Bloomfield said there was no cost barrier for GPs to undertake tests as they will be provided a fee, which has been agreed upon, for the cost of the visit and the time it took to do the swab. They were also provided with PPE, he said.

Dr Bloomfield said laboratories had the capacity and supplies, if widespread testing was needed.

Hipkins said one of the advantages of the testing regime for new arrivals was that people were tested after they had been exposed to others on their journey.

The Health Minister said contact tracing was a core public health response, and the Ministry was training its staff to do case investigation.

He said the contact tracer app was one part of a whole system of contact tracing that required everyone to take part, and about 596,000 New Zealanders have so far done this

The information provided is only used by the Ministry and only for contact tracing, he said.

"Please step up your efforts, scan wherever you go and keep a record of your movements."

He believed there was a degree of complacency, but the risk was growing everyday.

"Now's the time to be vigilant."

He said his team was working as fast as it could to get the app out when it did and was working to update it.

The Ministry of Health is working on a strategy for encouraging the uptake of QR posters in businesses but Hipkins said he could not give any details on this.

Dr Bloomfield said a local or regional lockdown would involve the police and possibly the defence force.

Hipkins said a dummy run will be done in a few locations to make sure everything goes as planned.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has laid out Cabinet's plan for if Covid-19 manages to slip through the border and break out in the community.

The plan involves three different scenarios and highlights that the response will first and foremost be at a local level.

Meanwhile, the criteria for Covid-19 testing has changed again and doctors are being urged to swab high-risk patients who are more likely to get critically ill from Covid-19.

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