8 Sep 2021

Covid-19 Delta outbreak day 22: How it unfolded

7:57 pm on 8 September 2021

It was miserable weather across the motu for the first day of level 2 - for those outside Auckland.

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Photo: RNZ

That didn't stop shoppers in Porirua, who packed the car park at North City Shopping Centre - hundreds of people went to the mall for the first time in weeks.

Some hospitality businesses say the new alert level 2 rules could make it difficult for them to operate.

The owner of Fidel's cafe in central Wellington, Roger Young told First Up under the new rules he won't be making any profit.

At today's 1pm update Chris Hipkins paused to take a sip of water from a mug - which just happened to feature his mug with the words 'Spread your legs, not the virus'.

Here's how the rest of the day unfolded.

The numbers

  • There are 15 new community cases today
  • There are 37 cases are in hospital, 6 people in ICU and 4 are on ventilators.
  • More than 4 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been administered - a new milestone
  • There are now 855 cases in the community outbreak, 218 have recovered.

Source of outbreak remains unknown

The source of the current Covid-19 community outbreak is still a mystery after a "significant" investigation found the chance of transmission occurring through the public atrium of the Crowne Plaza was very small, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said at today's official update.

"The exact chain of transmission from the MIQ returnee is not able to be determined,' he said.

Asked if another outbreak like the current one could occur again generating from the Crowne Plaza, Hipkins said he couldn't guarantee 100 percent there wouldn't be in-facility transmission in any isolation facility.

"We do absolutely everything we can to remediate and remove any risk we can see."

Middlemore Hospital case

Four wards are closed at Middlemore Hospital and nearly 30 staff have been stood down since a man with Covid-19 was unknowingly admitted to a non-Covid ward on Saturday, after presenting with abdominal pain.

Asked at the 1pm update whether leaving the patient with other patients for an 1 hour and 20 mins after getting a positive result was negligence, Dr Ashley Bloomfield replied he didn't think it was.

Middlemore Hospital's chief medical officer Dr Pete Watson told Morning Report they had looked at the man's screening and it could reassure people it was rigorous.

The hospital has added abdominal pain to its list of of symptoms when staff screen patients for Covid-19.

Nurses Organisation Kaiwhakahaere Keri Nuku says mistakes like this one are systemic of a failing, under-resourced system.

National Party leader Judith Collins described the handling of the undetected Covid-19 case as a mess.

Leading microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles says there may be a need to introduce rapid Covid-19 testing in hospitals.

MIQ bookings

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told Checkpoint some MIQ bookings have been deferred as the system faces a shortfall of rooms.

"We have actually made some changes already. We've deferred some RSE workers who were due to be coming in, and we have been looking at group bookings.

"The latest I've had is that a group of fisher people who were due to come in have also been deferred. So that frees up some more space.

"The RSE workers - it was several hundred. In the case of the fishermen, I think it was around 40 or 50."

New South Wales red flight

New Zealanders trapped in New South Wales have been given another opportunity to come home - with a new 'red flight' planned for next week.

The flight will depart Sydney for Auckland on Wednesday; people have until 5pm Saturday to apply on the government's MIQ website for a seat.

All travellers will have to present a negative Covid-19 test before departure and spend 14 days in a managed isolation or quarantine hotel.

A similar flight - carrying nearly 100 people - arrived in the country on Sunday.

The government has warned the trans-Tasman bubble is unlikely to reopen in the near future.

Boost in funding to help struggling tertiary students

The government has added $20 million to a hardship fund for tertiary students.

The money is in addition to $10 million announced in this year's Budget and is for students experiencing hardship because of the pandemic.

The announcement comes as tertiary institutions prepare to resume face-to-face teaching with some opening this week and others on Monday.

Auckland University and AUT both say even if the city was to drop alert levels, they wouldn't return to in-person classes this semester.

The Education Ministry says masks are highly recommended for students on campus but are not mandatory.

It says institutions should limit lectures to no more than 100 people and maintain physical distancing of one metre.

'Delta thrives on inequality'

Experts say the government needs to prioritise more funding and health resources for South Auckland, which will remain New Zealand's ongoing front line in the battle against Covid-19.

They say targeted community-led vaccination, faster testing and more resources for Middlemore Hospital are the top priorities, and greater data transparency will be important.

Speaking to the Health Select Committee today, Covid-19 modeller Dr Rodney Jones said the Delta variant had exploited a vulnerability in New Zealand.

"What we need to take away from this experience is that delta thrives on inequality," he said. "We must ensure that we now deploy spending and public health resources to South Auckland because that is going to remain our ongoing front line in the battle against Covid."

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