There are six new cases of COVID-19 to report in New Zealand today – all community cases.
All six cases have epidemiological links to existing cases and link back to the Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship group.
Many people involved in the Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship have been tested over the last 10 days. As we are still seeing cases emerge in this group, we are asking all members of the congregation to be retested. We also ask anyone who may have had contact with members of the Fellowship to be tested, even if they have previously tested negative. People should be tested even if they have no symptoms.
Four of these new cases are linked to a sub-group, associated with a series of bereavement activities, including visits to the household of the bereaved and a funeral.
All close contacts are now isolating and being tested. There are 108 people associated with this group that are self-isolating. A reminder that we provide both welfare support and security, as needed, to people to make this easier.
This is an important part of our management of the Auckland outbreak and ensure that it is contained.
One of the cases reported yesterday is a student at St Dominic’s Catholic College, who last attended school on Friday but left early after starting to feel unwell.
The student was tested over the weekend, and any close contacts who are identified will receive advice on isolating and getting tested.
We are working with the school to arrange testing for all staff and students in the school community. Further information will be available as they are confirmed.
The whole school community is asked to closely monitor their health and contact their GP or Healthline for advice if they become unwell.
Another case reported yesterday is a driver of the Northern Express bus service, and ARPHS will be releasing bus journey details this afternoon, although there are no close contacts from their bus trips.
Since August 11, our contact tracing team has identified 3,346 close contacts of cases, of which 3,305 have been contacted and are self-isolating, and we are in the process of contacting the rest.
There are 74 people linked to the community cluster who remain in the Auckland quarantine facility, which includes 58 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and their household contacts.
Today there are four people in hospital with COVID-19 – two are stable and in isolation on a ward in North Shore hospital. Two are in ICU, at North Shore and Waikato hospitals.
With today’s six new cases and four additional recovered cases, our total number of active cases is 125. Of those, 43 are imported cases in MIQ facilities, and 82 are community cases.
Our total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 is now 1,437, which is the number we report to the World Health Organization.
Yesterday our laboratories processed 8,363 tests for COVID-19, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 831,517.
These recent cases have shown us the importance of a fast and robust contact tracing system. When we find someone has tested positive for COVID-19, we need to quickly be able to trace everyone they have been in close contact with, have those people go into isolation, and have them tested. This is crucial to stopping the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.
Our contact tracing systems will always rely on people – if you test positive for COVID-19 we need to know not only where you were, but who you were with.
On that note, it is encouraging that we continue to see the number of people registering with, and using the NZ COVID Tracer app to record their movements.
The app has now recorded 2,161,200 registered users, and there have been 362,919 QR codes created to be displayed around the country.
An average 2.15 million scans per day took place over the last week, and the Ministry is releasing another update to the app today to make scanning QR codes faster and easier.
The update will mean the app will open directly to the scan screen if you are logged in, and you can also bypass the login screen to scan if you don’t have time to enter your password.
Diary entries will also now be stored in your phone for 60 days instead of 31 before they are deleted – this will make it easier for contact tracers to establish links between cases of COVID-19. A note that this doesn’t in any way affect the security of your information – the Ministry cannot access your digital diary unless you choose to share it with us after a request from a contact tracer.
It’s also really helpful for contact tracing if you can take the additional step of adding notes to your diary entries to record who you were with. You can either do this at the time you scan or put some time aside each evening to add notes to your diary entries.
An NZ COVID Tracer booklet is now also available from the COVID19 website to help people keep a written record of where they’ve been and who they’ve seen if they can’t download the app.
When people who test positive for COVID-19 can be specific it speeds up the contact tracing process which limits the spread of the virus.
The investigation into the case of the maintenance worker at MIQ at the Rydges has now closed, concluding that the most likely source of infection was a one-off exposure event – that being surface transmission in an elevator that the worker used after a returnee from the United States who tested positive for COVID-19.
Widespread testing around the worker’s contacts – both household and workplace – did not find any further cases of COVID-19 – they all tested negative.
We acknowledge the support of the maintenance worker, as well as staff and management at the Rydges in Auckland. Case investigations are complex processes and their success relies on the cooperation of the case, their contacts and their employers. The cooperation of everyone involved in this situation allowed us to complete a thorough and complex investigation, which allowed us to conclude there was no onward transmission from the maintenance worker.