23 Aug 2021

Covid-19 update: 35 new community cases ahead of alert level announcement

1:58 pm on 23 August 2021

There are 35 new community cases of Covid-19 ahead of the government's alert level announcement this afternoon.

A health worker at the Devonport Covid-19 testing station.

Photo: RNZ / Marika Khabazi

In a statement, the Ministry of Health said 33 of the new cases were in Auckland and two were in Wellington.

That brings the total number of cases in the community outbreak to 107.

All of the cases have or are being transferred safely to a managed isolation facility, under strict infection prevention and control procedures, including the use of full PPE, it said.

"As previously indicated, it's not unexpected to see a rise in daily case numbers at this stage. At its peak last year, New Zealand had a daily total of 89 new cases."

The total number of community cases in Auckland is now 99 and Wellington's number of community cases has increased to eight.

"Of the 107 cases in the cluster, 72 are already epidemiologically linked to other community cases identified in the outbreak. Investigations are continuing to determine whether and how the remaining 35 cases are linked to the outbreak," the ministry said.

"However, most have a plausible link on initial assessment. For example, people were at a location of interest. We will continue to release this information and new locations of interest as it becomes available."

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Photo: RNZ

The ministry said ESR was also continuing to run whole genome sequencing on cases. Yesterday 29 samples were sequenced and all were confirmed as being linked to the Auckland outbreak, it said.

As well as the new community cases, there are three new cases in recent returnees in managed isolation facilities.

The total number of active cases being managed in New Zealand is 154.

Since 1 January 2021, there have been 123 historical cases, out of a total of 880 cases.

The total number of confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic is 2698.

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Photo: Ministry of Health

Covid-19 testing

Yesterday, 35,766 tests were processed across New Zealand.

"Testing centres in Auckland had another busy day yesterday with just over 17,000 swabs taken across Auckland, with around 11,000 at community testing centres and around 6000 at general practice and urgent care clinics. This was our biggest day to date at our community testing centres," the ministry said.

It is reminding people to get tested if they were at a location of interest, at the specified times, or have cold and flu symptoms.

There are 16 community testing centres available for testing across Auckland this afternoon, including a new site at Pukekohe.

More than 3850 tests were processed yesterday for Wellington and the Hutt Valley with 11 community testing centres operating, and around 32 GPs open for testing.

The ministry also reminded people to wear a mask when going to get tested and to scan in to the QR codes located on site, and if possible to take their NHI number with them.

"You'll be able to find your NHI number of a hospital letter, a prescription or prescription receipt. The Ministry has also established a new 0800 number to find out - 0800 855 066."

You can find testing locations here

The total number of Covid-19 tests processed to date is 2,727,853.

Wastewater testing

The ministry said there was no new findings to report today. It said ESR is today collecting wastewater samples from sites throughout New Zealand for testing.

"Yesterday, we reported Covid-19 had continued to be detected at Moa Point in Wellington and in the Auckland region, but that samples taken from other sites in Wellington at Porirua, Seaview and Karori and now from the North Shore at Rosedale and Albany, were negative.

"Samples taken on Friday and Saturday returned no other unexpected detections anywhere else in the country."

Locations of interest

The ministry said it is continuing to add locations of interest as interviews from confirmed cases completed by public health staff.

There are now more than 280 locations of interest listed on the ministry's website.

Of these, 11 locations of interest are in Wellington, a few are scattered across the North Island and the rest are located in Auckland. There are also two flights between Auckland Wellington.

Crowne Plaza investigation

The ministry said public health officials are continuing to investigate those who used the atrium thoroughfare at the Crowne Plaza while the earliest identified case was in the lobby, as there is a possibility of air flow between the two spaces.

"A total of six people walked in the open walkway while the case was in the lobby, of those four have been identified and three have tested negative and one person is in the process of getting a test. There are two people still to be identified, which police are assisting with.

"This throughfare is located inside the Crowne Plaza building and is not the outside walkway which is used to access the Huawei Centre."

It has been confirmed the case was indoors while a very small number of people walked in the open walkway, which is well ventilated, it said.

On Section 70 notices, the ministry reminded people that the notice remains in place, placing a legal requirement on all people who were at locations of interest at the relevant times to follow the instructions regarding isolation and testing.

"It is also very important that essential workers regularly check the locations of interest so they can isolate immediately and get tested if they have been at any of these locations at the relevant times.

"Another Section 70 notice is in place, applying that to household members of those who have been at locations of interest or have been categorised as a close contact. These household members are required to isolate until the contact has returned a negative day-five test result."

Household members are not required to be tested unless they develop symptoms.

On vaccines, there were administered 35,800 doses administered nationally yesterday. This was made up of 26,835 first doses, and 8965 second doses.

More than 2.78 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been administered to date (to 11.59pm on 22 August).

The Covid-19 Tracer app now has 3,026,123 registered users.

Meanwhile, the government will announce any lockdown changes at 4pm but has already signalled Auckland is likely to remain in lockdown a while longer.

The number of community cases of Covid-19 grew by 21 yesterday, 20 in Auckland and one in Wellington, taking the total number in the current outbreak to 72.

Meanwhile, a Covid-19 modeller had said he expected to see the national lockdown have an impact on new case numbers by the end of the week.

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