23 Aug 2020

Covid-19: What happened on 23 August

9:06 pm on 23 August 2020

There are three new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, one linked to the Auckland cluster and two in managed isolation.

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Photo: AFP / FILE

Officials did not hold a media conference today, opting instead to release a statement.

The Ministry of Health said the one new case was a household contact of a previously reported case.

There were still nine people in hospital with the coronavirus, including three in ICU.

The two cases in managed isolation include a woman in her 20s who arrived in New Zealand on 16 August from Croatia via Switzerland and Hong Kong. She had been staying at the Sudima in Rotorua and has been transferred to the Jet Park quarantine facility after testing positive for Covid-19 around day three of her stay.

The other imported case is a person in their 30s who had been in isolation at the Grand Millennium in Auckland and tested positive around day 12 of their stay.

There is now a total of 114 active cases in New Zealand, which includes 18 imported cases from managed isolation facilities.

Cabinet urged to be cautious

University of Auckland Professor Shaun Hendy said the government will be carefully looking at the latest data when Cabinet meets tomorrow to consider changing alert levels.

Hendy said the community cluster was sprawled across Auckland and it would be a while yet before we could be confident there was no undetected transmission taking place.

Shaun Hendy at his kitchen table, where he's doing NZ's modelling of Covid-19

Shaun Hendy at his kitchen table, where he's doing NZ's modelling of Covid-19 Photo: Supplied

The government would be looking at a lot of different data, including the latest genomic information, he said.

"So they will be looking at a more complete data set than I have access to. Having said that. I would prefer them to be cautious, there's still a reasonable chance of undetected transmission out there, even though we have had very, very high testing rates over the last week and that will give them confidence."

He said to be sure Covid-19 had been eliminated it could take as long as several weeks with no detected cases.

Changes made to Auckland's travel restrictions

Two major changes to travel in Auckland during the Covid-19 alert level 3 lockdown have come into effect.

People can now transit through Auckland without stopping in order to travel for work.

In addition, patients who need to travel into Auckland for hospital appointments do not need a travel exemption.

The checkpoint at Bombay.

A police checkpoint in Auckland last week Photo: RNZ / Liu Chen

Those travelling through for work must show evidence of the purpose of their travel and their departure point and destination, but an exemption is no longer required.

Those travelling for hospital appointments just need to produce identification and an appointment letter or similar evidence in order to move through the regional border.

Covid-19 in Australia

Victoria has recorded another 208 cases of Covid-19 and 17 deaths, taking the state's death toll to 415.

The latest figures come after it was revealed on Saturday there had been two outbreaks in industries that had allowed to operate under the current level 4 restrictions.

Premier Daniel Andrews warned Victorians the state was a long way off easing level 4 restrictions, despite today being the half way mark of the six-week lockdown.

New South Wales recorded four new cases, while there were two cases reported in Queensland, both linked to a cluster at the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre.

Calls for staggered alert levels

Epidemiologist Michael Baker said the alert level system needed to be reviewed.

Because the alert level system was being used in regional areas, there might need to be a more nuanced approach such as intermediate levels like 1.5 or 2.5, he said.

Takapuna Beach Business Association also wants the government to consider a Covid-19 level 1.5 when Cabinet meets tomorrow.

Chief executive Terence Harpur said businesses in the Auckland coastal suburb had seen spending plummet more than 64 percent recently.

He said if a level 1.5 was introduced, businesses would be able to trade more freely and the economic impact of Covid-19 would be significantly reduced.

Masks recommended for children over the age of 12

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued guidance saying children over the age of 12 should wear masks, in line with recommended practice for adults in their country or area.

It admits little is known about how children transmit the virus but cites evidence that teenagers can infect others in the same way as adults.

Perpignan, June 10, 2020, Classes resume at the Lycée Arago in Perpignan. History class with wearing of the mask for the teacher and the students. High school student waiting between two classes on his mobile phone and wearing the mask.

Photo: AFP

Children aged five and under should not normally wear masks, the WHO said.

Professor Baker said at each level the use of masks needed to be specified and in some circumstances made compulsory, such as indoor events.

Meanwhile, the Neonatal Trust has launched a nationwide campaign to create masks for parents visiting their babies in neonatal units.

It has put a call out for donations of material, elastic, pre-made reusable masks or for people to pick up a needle and make them.

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