NZ alert levels raised from noon tomorrow
New Zealand Covid-19 alert levels will be raised from noon on Wednesday after a family has tested positive for Covid-19.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Auckland will move to Alert Level 3 for three days from 12noon tomorrow – Wednesday August 12 – until midnight on Friday, after a family of four tested positive for Covid-19.
The Prime Minister has announced four confirmed cases of COVID-19 in one family from an unknown source.
The index case is a person in their 50s who lives in South Auckland.
“They were swabbed yesterday, and the swab was processed twice,” says a Ministry of Health spokesperson. “A second swab, taken today confirms the positive result.”
The person has been symptomatic for five days and was interviewed this evening by the Auckland Regional Public Health Service.
The Ministry of Health says that the person has no overseas travel history.
“As is our usual protocol we are continuing to trace close and casual contacts of this person and test them for COVID-19.
“This has included household contacts of the case who received a rapid test this evening. Three of these tests have also come back positive and three are negative,” says a Ministry of Health spokesperson.
“All close contacts of the four cases will remain in self-isolation for 14 days, regardless of their test result, and all casual contacts will remain in self-isolation until they have the results of their test.
“In addition, we are working over the next few days to test all people that are working at our borders and everyone that works at a managed isolation facility.”
There will also be no barriers to anyone that has cold and flu symptoms getting tested, and testing is free.
“I’ve said it previously, but it’s even more relevant now, if you are offered a test, please take it,” says Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
In Auckland the four community testing centres in Northcote, Grafton, Henderson and Wiri will be operating with more staff and extra hours. The testing centres in Auckland, Waitemata and Counties Manukau are all prepared for receiving more people.
The three DHBs in Auckland are planning pop up clinics over coming days and they will publicise the locations and hours of these clinics.
The Ministry will be working closely with DHBs and primary care around the country to ensure additional testing capacity is available to meet an expected increase in demand.
“As we’ve been saying for several weeks, it was inevitable that New Zealand would get another case of community transmission,” says a Ministry of Health spokesperson.
“We have been working on the basis that it could be at any time – and that time is now.
“The health system is well prepared for this eventuality – and the important thing now is that we don’t let the virus spread in our community. As we did in the early days of this virus emerging, we need to stamp it out.”
The Ministry of Health advises that there are things that every single New Zealander needs to do now:
- continue stringent hand hygiene
- sneeze and cough into your elbow.
- if you or a family member are unwell stay home and contact Healthline or your GP about getting a test
- practice physical distancing of two meters wherever possible
- consider wearing a mask in public spaces or places where it is hard to physically distance.
If you have any concerns please seek advice from Healthline or your GP on getting a test.
If you have not already, please use this opportunity to download the NZ COVID Tracer app.
“This will give us your up-to-date contact details, so if we need to get in touch with you for contact tracing purposes, we can do so quickly,” says a Ministry of Health spokesperson.
“If you have fallen out of the habit of recording your movements as you go about your day, this case is a reminder of why it is so important.”
The NZ COVID Trace app is has a manual function to record where people have been recently, and there is an option to scan in using QR codes going forward.
“A reminder too, for businesses – please have a QR code displayed so your customers can be traced quickly if required,” says Dr Bloomfield.
“Our contact tracing team will be getting in touch with anyone identified as being a contact of this case. Please be responsive if you are contacted – return the call.”
As is their usual protocol the Ministry of Health are tracing all close and casual contacts of the four cases, and getting them tested for COVID-19.
All close contacts will remain in self-isolation for 14 days, and all casual contacts will remain in self isolation until they have returned a negative test.
“This case is a wake-up call against any complacency that may have set in. We cannot afford to let this virus spread,” says Dr Bloomfield. “We have seen how quickly it can lead to a wider resurgence in communities overseas. Places that have had COVID-19 under control have seen flare-ups and gone back into a full lockdown.
“We are working to not let that happen here. We’ve done this before and we can do it again.”
Further information will be available from Wednesday August 12.