19 Aug 2021

Covid-19 outbreak linked to case which came from Australia

5:31 pm on 19 August 2021

The current cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand have been linked to a traveller who arrived from Australia and was taken to Middlemore Hospital earlier this week.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Dr Ashley Bloomfield

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Dr Ashley Bloomfield Photo: Pool / Getty

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield have provided a Covid-19 update on day two of the nationwide lockdown, where it was revealed there were now 21 community cases.

Watch the update here:

Ardern said the current positive cases have been linked via genome sequencing to a traveller who arrived from NSW on a managed red zone flight. That person returned a positive day one test on 9 August and was moved from the Crowne Plaza hotel to the Jet Park facility.

They were then transferred to Middlemore Hospital on 16 August.

Ardern said the period in which cases were in the community was relatively short, but new information could change this conclusion.

She said primary lines of investigation are staff at the Crowne Plaza, staff at the Jet Park facility and staff involved in their arrival and transport. Middlemore Hospital is not part of the investigation.

Customs are investigating footage and identifying areas of interest and testing staff.

"Nothing has eventuated from this line of inquiry to date."

Staff at Jet Park and Crowne Plaza are being retested.

Ardern said a family adjacent to the case at the Crown Plaza had now tested positive for Covid on their day 12 test.

"That means we're dealing with a high level of infectivity in this case."

She said everyone at the Crowne Plaza will stay on while the usual protocols were undertaken.

Ardern said while compliance across the managed isolation sites for vaccination had been very high, "we will continue our search in a thorough way across both sites as you would expect".

Ardern thanked the first positive case for getting tested.

"If it wasn't for you getting tested when you did, this could be a much much more difficult situation.

"Having said that, we're prepared for cases to get worse before they get better, that is always the pattern in these outbreaks. But today, we believe we've uncovered the piece of the puzzle we were looking for

"That means our ability to circle the virus, lock it down, and stamp it out generally has greatly improved."

Dr Bloomfield said all cases in the community are being transferred safely to a quarantine facility or are already there.

He said 12 of the 21 cases have already been confirmed as being part of the same Auckland cluster. A further eight are currently being investigated.

Ministry of Health said in a statement one of the cases is an international airline crew member already in the public arena and is unlikely to be linked to the current community outbreak.

"These new community cases are not unexpected, as the prime minister said, and we would expect the number of cases to continue to grow in particular because of the large number of locations of interest and the mobility of these cases over the few days before the lockdown started."

As of this morning, more than 360 individual contacts have been identified, although this does exclude contacts from large settings.

"Through the day-to-day, that number will increase significantly."

Bloomfield said they were fielding a large number of complaints about people holding gatherings and they were being referred to police.

"As you can see from that update, level 4 is where New Zealand needs to be at the moment," Ardern said.

Ardern said ministers will meet tomorrow morning to decide the lockdown level for the rest of the country outside Auckland and Coromandel. The decision will be shared at tomorrow's 1pm update.

Follow RNZ's blog for live Covid-19 updates


This is an official COVID-19 ALERT.

All of New Zealand is now at Covid-19 alert level 4.

The alert level will be reviewed after 3 days for all areas EXCEPT Auckland & Coromandel Peninsula which is likely to remain at level 4 for an initial period of 7 days.

A community case of Covid-19 has been identified.

Stay at home where possible & follow the Alert Level 4 guidelines. This will stop the spread of COVID-19 and SAVE LIVES.

Everyone is asked to:

Wear a mask and keep a 2 metre distance from others whenever you leave your home.

If you are sick, call your doctor or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice about getting tested.

Keep on scanning QR codes whenever you leave your home.

Practice good hygiene - wash hands often.

Services including supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics & petrol stations will stay open at Alert Level 4. Face coverings are mandatory for all people - both employees and customers - at businesses and services operating at Alert Level 4 involving customer contact.

For more information on Alert Level 4 go to [the government website www.covid19.govt.nz]


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