26 Aug 2020

Five new cases of Covid-19, three in community, two in isolation

3:27 pm on 26 August 2020

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says five people associated with a Mt Roskill church have been diagnosed with Covid-19 in the past few days.

Watch the 1pm briefing here:

Speaking at today's 1pm Covid-19 briefing, Dr Bloomfield confirms there are five new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, including three cases from the community and two in managed isolation.

Dr Bloomfield says two of the community cases were contacts of already known cases, and one is under investigation. One case from yesterday considered a household case in now also under investigation.

A woman in her 50s and a man in his 30s are the imported cases.

There are 134 active cases, 24 of them in managed isolation. Total confirmed cases increased to 1344.

Five people associated with the Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship have tested positive, Dr Bloomfield says.

Anyone who was at the services held at the church on Stoddard Road on the 8th, 9th and 11th August and a wedding on 7 August should be isolating and seek a test, he said.

Rānui, Randwick Park in Manurewa, and Point England are the locations of today's pop up testing clinics. Dr Bloomfield says this is to make sure the west and south Auckland Pacific communities are able to easily access tests and he would encourage these communities to do so.

There are a team of 70 people processing exemptions, Dr Bloomfield says.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins says the government and Ministry are working very closely with Pacific health providers to make sure they get the resources they need.

"Say yes to the test," Hipkins says.

Labs completed 8559 tests yesterday, bringing total tests to date to 710,063.

Regarding overstayers, Hipkins the government will not be using any information of people who have had a test for immigration purposes.

"We won't use that information to punish you in any way." He says the dots will not be connected and people should feel they can get a test without this being a concern.

Dr Bloomfield says there are 1121 places across the country that people can be tested, and he has written to all the DHB chief execs to give a clear expectation for how they should be ensuring access to testing.

QR codes to be mandatory on public transport

Hipkins says QR codes will also be mandatory on public transport after the recent case of someone infected travelling on a bus led to masks on public transport becoming mandatory.

"This latest requirement will add to the systems' overall effectiveness," Hipkins says.

While ticketing systems can identify some travellers, it is not widespread enough and this is why QR codes are needed, he says. QR codes are a faster way for contract tracing to take place, he says.

It will be required from 11.59pm next Thursday 3 September on buses, trains, ride shares and ferries. This won't be enforced by drivers, or transport operators, Hipkins says.

Hipkins says the govt has been working with supermarkets to make sure there are enough masks available.

People should be encouraged to use reusable masks where possible, he says. People can use whatever they find around the house for these, he says.

"Secondary school students should be wearing masks," says Hipkins.

Further details

Hipkins says there are 5204 people in managed isolation or quarantine, and 15 adults have refused a day 12 test. He says there have been 14 positive day 12 tests.

He says children are not routinely tested at day three. Not everyone needs a day-three test, he says.

Māori and Pasifika health experts have been added to the new health group. Hipkins says the group will be looking at all aspects of testing protocol.

Dr Bloomfield says testing rates are looked at by ethnicity and rates among Māori and Pacific are high.

Yesterday there were seven new cases in the community, all linked to the Auckland cluster.

The National Party has called on the government to extend the wage subsidy scheme for the extra days the restrictions have been extended to this week.

However, the minister of finance defended his stance, saying there had already been significant help for businesses and there needed to be a balance because every dollar that was being paid out was borrowed.

The Health Committee is also set to reconvene after pressure from both National and New Zealand First for the committee to resume and assess the response to the pandemic.

National's health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti had requested from the committee chair that Dr Bloomfield and senior health officials, including the minister of health, to be called before the committee.

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