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Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins and director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield will give today’s update on cases in the Delta outbreak as health officials scramble to test almost half of the 15,000 people potentially exposed.
The Government will be closely watching for any spread outside of Auckland ahead of its decision on Friday about whether to keep all of New Zealand at level 4.
Auckland’s lockdown was extended to August 31 and will not be reviewed until Monday, but the rest of New Zealand will be reviewed on Friday.
However, there are now more than 15,000 people considered to be contacts and the test results for about half of the 369 people considered to be at the highest risk were yet to be returned as of yesterday.
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Experts are expecting cases to continue to rise, with modelling now suggesting they could hit 1000.
In developments today, while compliance with lockdown rules has been deemed high, Police have put roadblocks in between Auckland and Northland to try to stop people travelling between the regions without valid reason.
The outbreak has also put the contact tracing, testing and quarantine system under pressure: some positive cases were now having to wait at home and had been told the Jet Park quarantine facility was full and alternative quarters were being prepared.
Testing samples were also sometimes taking days to be tested – Bloomfield has said they are only fast-tracking the samples of those considered to be at most risk because they were household or work contacts of a case, or in locations that were very high risk.
Public health director Caroline McElnay told a select committee yesterday that 11 per cent of the closest contacts had tested positive so far, and about half were yet to get results back.
There were a further 14,967 close contacts – 56 per cent had returned test results, and 0.2 per cent were positive.
Of about 405 casual plus contacts, half had been tested with no positive results so far.
As of yesterday there were 148 cases – most were in Auckland but there were 11 in Wellington.
Bloomfield also revealed the two largest clusters yesterday – including about 58 cases linked to a Samoan Assembly Of God Church service and 23 associated to a Birkdale flat, which included a workmate of the Devonport tradie who first tested positive.
Bloomfield said there were about six potential clusters all together, but has not revealed the other four. It is known that at least nine students at AUT have now tested positive.
Act leader David Seymour has called for the Government to be more transparent with the figures, including releasing daily the number of close contacts traced and tested, and how many were still outstanding. He said that information had only been presented after questions in a select committee and should be released daily.
Following the press conference, Hipkins will again appear before MPs on the health select committee again along with border officials.
The select committees are replacing Parliament, which was suspended for this week, and a string of ministers are lined up to speak on the Covid-19 response.
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