23 Jul 2020

No new cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation facilities, Ashley Bloomfield confirms

1:27 pm on 23 July 2020

There are no new cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation facilities, the Ministry of Health has confirmed.

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It has now been 83 days since the last case of Covid-19 that was acquired locally from an unknown source.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said all of the cases of the last few weeks have been identified.

Dr Bloomfield said five of the previously current cases have now recovered.

The total number of active cases is 22 and the total number of confirmed cases in New Zealand remains at 1205.

There were 2419 tests yesterday, 2000 of them were community testing, Dr Bloomfield said.

He thanked New Zealanders for taking up the opportunity to be tested when offered a swab.

The NZ Covid Tracer app has had over 618,000 people sign up to it.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins said the Ministry of Health and government have had feedback that mobile data cost has been a barrier for accessing key Covid-19 information.

The Ministry and government have been partnering with mobile providers to access key health websites free of data charges.

"All of the mobile data charges for accessing these ... will be charged back to the ministry until June next year," Hipkins said.

On testing, Hipkins said he wanted to see about 4000 tests per day, but that could fluctuate.

Dr Bloomfield sent a survey sent to GPs was trying to find out why people were declining tests.

Analysis from the results of that would be shared in the near future, he said.

Hipkins there were a "whole variety of reasons" people didn't start using the Covid-19 app. However, the app was being improved.

The improvements included allowing people to manually enter information when there was no QR code at places they visited, he said.

"That will be allowed for. The second big improvement will allow people to add things in retrospectively."

"What we want is as close to a digital diary as possible."

"It is not the only tool but the better that information, the faster contact tracing can take place."

The app should be updated by the end of July, he said.

Hipkins said the free data for health services would be a good test for free access to other state and public services.

He said he could think of examples in education, welfare and career advice where that might also work.

The cost to the government of the free data was not clear yet.

Global coronavirus infections have surged past 15 million, a Reuters tally shows, with the pandemic gathering pace even as countries remain divided in their response to the crisis.

The five countries with the highest case numbers are the United States, Brazil, India, Russia and South Africa. But the Reuters tally shows the disease is accelerating the fastest in the Americas, which account for more than half the world's infections and half its deaths.

Meanwhile people hoping to return to New Zealand may have to wait a few days under a new managed isolation system.

Air Commodore Darryn Webb told Morning Report the requirement to book a spot in managed isolation when buying the ticket may mean a "slight delay".

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