21 Aug 2021

Covid-19 update: 21 new community cases in New Zealand today

3:19 pm on 21 August 2021

There have been 21 new community cases of Covid-19 reported in New Zealand today.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director of Public Health Caroline McElnay have given an update on the Covid-19 situation.

Watch the full briefing here:

Three of the new cases are in Wellington, while the rest are in Auckland. There are also three new Covid-19 cases to report in recent returnees today.

Dr McElnay said the total number of community cases linked to the current Auckland outbreak are 51.

All cases have been or are being transferred to managed isolation facilities using strict infection prevention and control procedures, McElnay said.

Ardern said she still expected cases to rise through to next week before they started to fall away.

"One of the things we have learned from NSW is that the virus can keep spreading during lockdown from people going to work or people breaking the rules of the lockdown, this is one of the key reasons their case numbers keep going up and their lockdown extended."

She said no one wanted an extended lockdown so to avoid this she asked everyone to "stick to your bubble".

More than 5000 individual contacts have been identified and the Health Ministry expects that will grow and increase by another 5000 by the end of today.

The majority of those contacts are located in Auckland and Waikato regions with a small proportion located in the rest of the North Island and the South Island, said Dr McElnay.

She said public health staff are rapidly interviewing cases to find out how they were infected and to determine further details of their movements.

"They're working tirelessly to investigate the cases."

McElnay says isolating in alert level 4 means isolating yourself away from other household members, so when contacts get tested they need to remain isolated until they get their tests back.

She said 829 Waitematā DHB staff had been tested and all results so far were negative, with 208 results pending. All patients from affected areas have returned negative tests.

North Shore Hospital's emergency department remains closed and ambulances are being diverted to other Auckland emergency departments.

ESR have completed genome sequencing for 29 cases - including the three announced in Wellington yesterday and they are all linked to the Auckland cluster, McElnay says.

Dr McElnay said there had also been Covid-19 found in wastewater testing in Warkworth, north of Auckland. Extra wastewater testing will be taken from Warkworth and Snells Beach today and tomorrow.

There are 41 sites around the country where wastewater testing is being done. Covid-19 continues to be detected in Auckland's wastewater.

Despite the rise in numbers, Ardern said there was some good news with New Zealand hitting two records yesterday, with the most number of vaccines and tests carried out.

There were 56,843 vaccines administered yesterday - the most in a single day. Ardern said 72 percent of NZers aged 40+ are either booked or have been vaccinated with at least one dose.

"This is great progress," Ardern said.

More than 150,000 vaccination bookings were made yesterday.

Yesterday also saw the most Covid-19 tests processed in a single day, with 41,464 tests completed.

"The fact we have achieved both these results on the same day is extraordinary and is exactly what we need to do to get on top of the outbreak and for the future."

There are 14 community testing stations open across Auckland today, Ardern said.

On locations of interest, Ardern said new genome sequencing information that had come out meant locations that were posted prior to 7 August were no longer locations of interest.

She said if you are sick and cannot get out to the supermarket you can get family or friends to drop off food by contactless delivery.

"Compliance and reducing contact is critical to stopping the virus."

Overall, compliance has been outstanding, she said.

The Prime Minister yesterday announced the alert level 4 lockdown would continue until at least midnight Tuesday.

Since then, new cases of the novel coronavirus have been confirmed at the University of Auckland and two more Auckland schools. In addition, the list of locations of interest has been growing.

Follow our live blog for more updates as they happen today.

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Director of Public Health Caroline McElnay is giving a Covid-19 update with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today. Photo: RNZ/Samuel Rillstone

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