35 cases ahead of alert level call; 4 hospital workers test positive

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 11 Oct 2021, 1:19PM

35 cases ahead of alert level call; 4 hospital workers test positive

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 11 Oct 2021, 1:19PM

There are 35 new Covid-19 cases in the community today as Cabinet meets to decide on restrictions in Auckland and alert levels in Waikato and Northland.

All of today's new cases are in Auckland and 21 of them remain unlinked and are under investigation.

Two staff members have now returned positive results for Covid following a positive case reported yesterday in a patient receiving treatment in the dialysis unit adjacent to North Shore Hospital. Two Auckland City Hospital workers have also tested positive after a fully vaccinated staff member tested positive at the weekend.

Auckland City Hospital is now carrying out testing onsite for staff and patients linked to the staff member who has tested positive for Covid. Initial investigations show there are no links to the NICU parent who tested positive for Covid last week.

It is not unexpected that there will be District Health Board staff members who acquire Covid within the community due to it being one of the biggest employees in Auckland, the Ministry of Health said.

There are 33 people in hospitals today with Covid - North Shore (5); Middlemore (16); Auckland (9); Starship Hospital (1); Waikato Base Hospital (1) and Palmerston North Hospital (1). Seven patients are in intensive care or high-dependency units.

The 35 new cases include the one case linked to the Bay of Plenty region, however this is under investigation after the person's second test was negative.

Almost of half of yesterday's cases - 28 - were in isolation while considered infectious.

'Govt has failed to deliver to Māori'

Te Pāti Māori wants the Government to move Auckland into level 4 and said it would be a modern form of "genocide" if the country's borders were opened up when Covid vaccination rates hit 90 per cent.

The party today met with the Māori King Tūheitia and Māori leaders to agree on a "unified approach" to Covid-19.

"We are now in survival mode and we are calling on the Government to move Auckland into Level 4 and the rest of the North Island into Level 3 immediately until Māori are 95% vaccinated. Failure to do so is committing our people to death by Covid" co-leader Rawiri Waititi said.

"The Government are too noisy. They need to get out of the road and resource localised, whānau-led responses and they also need to resource our messengers and our messages.

"The reality is that the Government has failed to deliver to Māori. They have failed to uphold their responsibility to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. And now we are on the brink of a catastrophe that none of us are prepared or resourced for simply because they won't hand over power," Waititi said.

"At every stage of this pandemic, the Government has ignored the advice of our Māori experts. They have left us out to dry. Their elimination strategy only focuses on the general population. Their vaccination strategy only focuses on the general population. None of which commits to the survival of the indigenous people of this country," co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said.

"Māori are now presenting over half of daily cases. We need to be placed back into a level that will break the circuit of this outbreak for Māori.

"If the Government is prepared to open the borders as soon as our country is 90 per cent vaccinated, they are willingly holding Māori up to be the sacrificial lambs. It is a modern form [of] genocide," Ngarewa-Packer said.

"How many Māori deaths are the Crown prepared to live with? One is too many for us," Waititi said.

Northland Covid traveller

The Northland case has been linked to the Auckland outbreak but the exact cluster is yet to be identified.

More work is being done on this.

The Northland woman who tested positive for Covid remains in an Auckland quarantine facility.

A second person who is thought to have travelled with this case has been contacted but not yet located.

Public health staff are continuing to work closely with the person to determine any locations of interest or exposure events associated with the case. There are currently 21 close contacts associated with this case including the elusive travel companion.

Almost 4,000 Covid tests have been carried out in Northland over the past four days.

There are five testing sites open today in Kaitaia, Whangarei, Dargaville, and Kerikeri.

These areas also have vaccination sites running.

The Waikato is welcoming news that there are no new community cases in the region and all 31 existing cases are linked to the original index case.

There are pop-up testing centres operating today at Claudelands Event Centre, Te Kohao Health in Hamilton East and Raglan, as well as the existing testing centre at Founders Theatre.

The Ministry of Health is urging anyone who has symptoms, no matter how mild, to get tested and isolate until they receive the result as testing and vaccination remain the country's best tools against Covid-19.

Investigations into the person who tested positive for Covid after moving from Auckland to Katikati are ongoing but have been deemed low risk given the person's vaccination status, regular test history, good use of the NZ Covid Tracer app and rapid contact, testing and isolation of family members who have all tested negative.

The race of jabbed Aucklanders

So far 87 per cent of eligible Aucklanders have received their first dose of the vaccine and 62 per cent have received two doses.

Alert-level decision

At 4pm the post-Cabinet press conference will feature Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

Aucklanders will be updated on whether or not they can move into phase two of the Government's three-step plan to ease level 3 restrictions in the city.

Cabinet is also reviewing restrictions for Northlanders - who are at alert level 3 until Wednesday - and Waikato residents, under alert level 3 restrictions until midnight tonight.

Daily cases in Auckland and Waikato continue to climb while contact tracers scramble to determine the exact movements of an infected person who travelled across Northland, who is not complying with authorities.

It was also revealed today that there are three Covid cases inside Auckland's Mt Eden prison.

"They are all men who were received into custody at Mt Eden Corrections Facility this month. Two of the men returned positive results for Covid-19 prior to coming into custody, and the third was a known associate of a positive case. All three men were therefore immediately placed into a dedicated quarantine area, where they have been cared for by fully vaccinated staff wearing full four-point PPE, including masks, gloves, gowns and eye protection. No Corrections staff or people in prison are considered close contacts due to the way that the three men have been managed," Neil Beales, chief custodial officer at Corrections said.

"Two of the men remain in the quarantine area of the site, while one is currently in hospital. Corrections Officers are with the man in hospital to ensure the safety of the prisoner, hospital staff and the public," he said.

The Herald has confirmed there were two inmates who had been placed in the prison's dedicated "Echo" wing - then a third infected person arrived at the remand prison at the weekend.

There were almost 100 new cases in the community over the weekend - 34 on Saturday and 60 on Sunday, including 56 in Auckland and three in Waikato. One person living near Katikati who was reported to be infected has now returned a negative test.

The Herald understands a Covid-19 case recovering in hospital in Palmerston North is an Auckland truck driver who tested positive and has been isolating. He is among 26 people battling the virus in hospital, and seven of those are in ICU.

A total of 61 per cent of Saturday's cases were infectious in the community and 19 out of yesterday's 60 new cases were yet to be epidemiologically linked.

But Health Minister Andrew Little told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking this morning that he expected numbers to "look better" today.

Meanwhile, Ardern said a Covid-positive person who travelled to Northland remains unco-operative with authorities about their movements, despite police now being involved. A second woman has been contacted but not located.

It emerged this morning that infected person stayed at the Kingswood Manor Hotel in Whangārei on the night of Sunday October 3. There are 362 exposure events involving 250 locations, in the latest update to the Ministry's list of locations of interest.

New locations added this morning include supermarkets in Papakura, Mt Roskill and Three Kings.

The Prime Minister has also indicated she will address concerns about children returning to school after the holidays this afternoon. There have been calls for healthcare workers, teachers and supermarket workers to be required to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

A record number of Pfizer vaccine doses were administered among Māori on Saturday, and the highest amount of second doses were administered nationwide on Friday.

On Friday 67,189 second doses were administered, and 10,283 doses for Māori on Saturday.

Auckland is currently in phase one of an easing of restrictions in alert level 3, in which a maximum of 10 people from two households can gather outside. The Government will review this today, to determine whether Auckland can move into phase two.

In phase two, outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people are permitted, and retailers and public facilities can open.