16 Aug 2020

Covid-19 updates for Sunday 16 August

7:45 pm on 16 August 2020

NZ First leader Winston Peters joins other parties in seeking a new election date; a harmful claim is being circulated about a woman with Covid-19; Melbourne's lockdown is being extended and a record number of tests is being carried out.

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Photo: AFP / 123RF

There are 12 new community cases of Covid-19, all in Auckland and all connected to existing cases, the Director General of Health has revealed.

There is also one new case in managed isolation.

Dr Ashley Bloomfield says the 12 cases in the community are all Auckland based, and none have travelled outside the region recently.

All had a connection to the existing outbreak as close contacts of cases already reported.

Three people are now in hospital - two in Auckland City Hospital and one in Middlemore Hospital. None are in intensive care.

Fresh warning on rumours

Health Minister Chris Hipkins says New Zealanders need to be cautious about deliberate misinformation being spread on social media about Covid cases.

He says over the past 24 hours, rumours on social media have been taken to a "new and concerning level", including a claim that a woman in the current Covid cluster contracted the disease by sneaking into an isolation facility.

"Not only was it harmful and dangerous, it was totally and utterly wrong," he said. "It did not happen. It was fully investigated, and that investigation concluded that it was completely false.

"It was deliberately designed to create panic, fear and confusion and it is completely unacceptable," Hipkins said.

Record number of tests in Auckland

A record number of Covid-19 tests have been completed in metropolitan Auckland.

Between Wednesday and 4pm today 45,406 tests have been carried out.

More than 500 healthcare workers have been redeployed to support testing centres and facilities across the city and 14 new pop-up community testing centres have opened in the past four days, taking the total to 18 centres.

Laboratory staff are working through the night to process the tests with Christchurch laboratories providing additional capacity.

In Northcote, cars were bumper to bumper as congestion built around College Rd, where there is a Covid-19 testing site.

Cars have been bumper to bumper for days as Aucklanders wait for Covid-19 tests. Photo: RNZ / Jordan Bond

Victoria's emergency extended

The state of emergency has been extended in Victoria which has recorded 16 more deaths from coronavirus and 279 new cases in the past 24 hours.

There are now 16,764 confirmed coronavirus cases and 309 deaths in Victoria from Covid-19.

Premier Daniel Andrews said 11 of the 16 deaths were linked to aged care.

At present, 662 Victorians are in hospital with 40 people receiving intensive care - 29 of those are on a ventilator.

The state of emergency has been extended until Sunday, September 13, however, both Andrews and Australia's health minister are confident the rate of infection is slowing.

Police on horseback patrol the Melbourne central business district on August 9, 2020, as the city struggles to cope with a COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

Police in Melbourne patrol the CBD as they help to enforce a strict lockdown. Photo: AFP

Peters wants election postponed

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters wants the election delayed, saying there is now no ability to conduct a free and fair election on 19 September.

He has written to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, asking her to delay the general election to 21 November.

National says it could back 21 November as the new date.

Voters need to hear from all political parties about their Covid response plans and other policies, but until Auckland's alert level drops the "playing field is hopelessly compromised", Peters says.

Ardern will reveal at 10am tomorrow if the election will go ahead next month, or if it will be delayed.

Winston Peters speaks to media on his way to the debating chamber in Parliament, Wellington.

Winston Peters has passed on his request to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo: STUFF/POOL

Iwi seeks regional lockdown

A Ruapheu iwi is calling for an immediate regional lockdown there.

A person from the Auckland cluster who subsequently tested positive visited the Turoa ski area last Sunday.

Two people working for Ruapehu Alpine Lifts who came into contact with the person have tested negative.

Ohakune-based Ngāti Rangi says there are enough tourists already at Ruapehu, and outsiders, especially Aucklanders, should stay away.

Iwi chair Whetu Moataanem says there are a lot of vulnerable people living in the district and closing the region's border to eliminate the Covid risk completely is a no-brainer.

High Noon lift at Turoa

Turoa ski-field Photo: RNZ / Walter Zweifel

Port of Tauranga workers prioritised for Covid testing

Port of Tauranga workers will be prioritised for Covid-19 testing, as thousands of people are expected to attend an on-site centre from midday tomorrow.

Workers who have been at the docks since 21 July must be tested, to determine whether the port was the source of the new Auckland outbreak.

It's expected up to 6000 people will be tested.

Review the day's developments on our blog here:

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