20 Aug 2021

Covid-19 lockdown: NZ to remain at alert level 4 until Tuesday night

4:57 pm on 20 August 2021

All of New Zealand will remain at alert level 4 until at least Tuesday midnight, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed.

Cabinet will meet on Monday to decide on the next move on the country's alert levels.

Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield have provided an update on the country's alert level situation.

Watch the briefing here:

New Zealand went into lockdown at 11.59pm on Tuesday. Auckland and Coromandel were initially set to be in level 4 for seven days, while the rest of the country was put into level 4 for three days.

There have now been 31 community cases of Covid-19 officially confirmed in Auckland and Wellington, with 11 new cases announced this afternoon.

Ardern said the delay in opening until Tuesday means there will be more time to assess how much of the country has been affected.

"We believe we'll be in a better position to make an assessment about all of New Zealand with that full seven days, granted Auckland is looking like it will have the challenge of being the primary site of this outbreak."

Ardern said the country was in a "reasonable position", but it was still early days in the outbreak and it was too soon to draw any conclusions.

"We are still waiting on a large number of contacts to be tested," she said.

"We just don't quite know the full scale of this Delta outbreak. All in all this tells us we need to continue to be cautious."

Ardern said it was important that the cases at this point appeared to be linked and there were not cases popping up where they were not expected.

The large number of locations also meant the country was likely dealing with more cases, and with cases confirmed in Wellington today, health authorities were now dealing with an outbreak that was not isolated to Auckland.

"It's much better to assure ourselves now .... than allowing the virus to spread easily."

She urged people to check locations of interest and if they have been there at the time they should get a test. However, she warned that if they were there earlier or later, a test was not necessary.

"Many people have been doing the right thing and have encountered long wait times at our testing stations. Please do remember you can also call your GP to see if they are testing."

She said contacts should stay home and isolate. Others should, under level 4, stay home with their bubble.

She reminded New Zealanders that anyone over 12 visiting an essential service was required to wear a face mask.

"We are also asking people to just wear a mask as they leave their home generally. Remember people have got the virus just by walking past someone."

People should be washing their hands, scanning in, and "please be kind" and check in with friends and family.

"Following the rules to the letter does mean we can reconnect faster."

She said the lockdown method was tried and true.

"Keep up the amazing work and everyone - and I mean everyone - needs to play their part."

Dr Bloomfield said the testing rates across the country have been six to 10 times the usual level, and "we need to keep that up".

He said the 24,000 swabs in one day in Auckland is 50 percent higher than the previous single-day record.

Yesterday health authorities managed to link the current cases of the Delta variant in this country to a traveller who arrived from New South Wales and was taken to Middlemore Hospital earlier this week.

Vaccination clinics have resumed operating after a one day pause to get alert level 4 protocols in place, but one Auckland clinic said it was now doing half the number of vaccinations that it was prior to the lockdown.

Close to 400,000 people have booked their Covid-19 vaccinations in the past two days, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

Thirty-thousand doses were administered yesterday, and that number is expected to grow.

Ardern reminded people that anyone over 40 could book a vaccine for themselves and their children aged over 12.

Bloomfield said he hoped Māori and Pasifika take up the opportunity to get vaccinated, and that they will take the opportunity to get their 12-15 year olds with them.

"One of the key parts of my advice to the government to bring 12-15 year olds on was because of the younger age structure of our Māori and Pasifika populations. So it will have a proportionately greater impact on that population."

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