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Covid-19: Northland to enter Alert Level 3 tonight

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has announced Northland will enter Alert Level 3. Photo. RNZ.

Northland will move to Alert Level 3 restrictions from 11:59pm tonight, the Covid-19 Response Minister has confirmed.

Chris Hipkins has been holding a briefing at Parliament on the situation in Northland this evening.

Watch it here:

The new restrictions will remain in place until 11.59pm Tuesday and will be reviewed at Cabinet on Monday.

Hipkins says the move was necessary following new information on the risk presented by the positive case initially tested in Whangarei earlier this week and confirmed in Auckland yesterday. The woman is now in an Auckland Managed Isolation Quarantine facility.

"Updated information provided by the police today shows the case moved extensively around Northland after travelling there on 2 October," Hipkins says.

He says it is believed she did not travel alone and travelled with another woman, who is not yet in MIQ.

"We believe this new information warrants an alert level change decision to keep Northland people safe.

"It is also been taken because the individual has not been cooperative with contact tracing efforts."

He says the woman had not supplied the reason for being in Northland.

"It has been very difficult to get information about this particular case.

"The first test result we had was what you could describe as an indeterminate test result, so it was quite difficult to locate the person, the information that they supplied when they were tested the first time did not provide sufficent information to be able to contact them with the test result and get them back to be tested. It took some time to track them down, the police ultimately were able to assist there and did help to track the person down."

Hipkins says he understood the woman obtained a document by providing false information but this was yet to be verified. When it was discovered and revoked they were already in Auckland.

The first locations of interest for Northland have been added to the Ministry of Health's website.

They include BP Connect Wylies petrol station and the Z Kensington service station in Whangarei.

Hipkins says the factor that taken into account was that vaccination rates in Northland were low compared to the national average.

"Without placing restrictions on movement there is a possibility that the virus could spread quite rapidly within the community."

It is one of the least-vaccinated regions - just two thirds of residents have had a Pfizer dose.

"Cases spreading at alert level 2 are a risk we cannot take, but it's also further reason why we need to really focus on vaccinations," says Hipkins. "Without high vaccination rates we will need to continue to use restrictions to stop the virus spreading.

"I have two things to ask of Northlanders. First, if you have any cold and flu like symptoms please come forward and get a test as soon as possible."

"The second request that I have and I can't stress this enough, is please get vaccinated. These cases do highlight the risk of Covid-19 to the unvaccinated anywhere in the country.

"Now is the time to be vaccinated."

Hipkins reminded Northlanders that alert level 3 meant they had to stay in their bubble and stay at home.

"Don't go and visit family, friends and neighbours, this is a virus that can spread quite quickly and that is part of the way it spreads."

Speaking to Checkpoint after the announcement, Whangārei Mayor Sheryl Mai says she was "actually quite grumpy".

"We've got a person who really has done everything that they should not do. And they've impacted all of Northland as a result.

"I was giving the person the benefit of the doubt earlier today. Now I'm just ropeable."

There were 44 new cases of Covid-19 reported in the community today, including three in Waikato.

- RNZ

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