Live: 70 new Covid community cases today; 19 in hospital; PM mulls alert levels as experts urge 'cautious' approach to lifting lockdown

Michael Neilson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 27 Aug 2021, 10:33AM

Live: 70 new Covid community cases today; 19 in hospital; PM mulls alert levels as experts urge 'cautious' approach to lifting lockdown

Michael Neilson, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 27 Aug 2021, 10:33AM


There are 70 new cases of Covid-19 in the community today.

All are in Auckland and brings the total number of cases in the community outbreak to 347.

The case information will form a crucial part of the Government's decision about alert levels, which Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and director general of health Ashley Bloomfield will announce from the Beehive at 3pm. Be sure to revisit to watch.

Experts urge 'cautious' approach to alert levels

Experts are urging a few more days in lockdown across the country as part of a "cautious approach" to containing the Delta outbreak.

And the Government's top adviser says while "I'd love to say Santa Claus exists" there was no easy way to stamp out Delta and there were still tough times ahead.

Epidemiologist Dr Michael Baker said there was still a risk the virus could be incubating outside Auckland and Wellington.

Level 3 was good at containing spread, but not at eliminating the virus, Baker said.
Bar any developments, a "cautious" approach could see the South Island enter level 3 from Tuesday, meaning it had been through a full 14-incubation period since the lockdown began.

Level 3 included opening up gatherings to 10, and limited hospitality services, but still prevented large gatherings including most businesses and schools.

"It is feasible [to go to level 3] from this weekend, but carries more risk," Baker said.
It was also feasible the North Island, bar Auckland, could also be lowered to level 3 then, but there remained some risk given the 12 cases in Wellington.

The fact they were all contained in their bubbles and there had been no spread was reassuring, Baker said.

"One option could be for Wellington and/or the North Island to hold on a bit longer, and then effectively split the country into three zones with Auckland."

More information about cases that were already effectively quarantined, in their bubbles, and those that were out in the community needed to be provided, Baker said.

If there was a move down alert levels, Baker said the Government should look to carry mandatory mask use in certain crowded indoor levels with it.

Eminent epidemiologist Sir David Skegg says he is cautiously optimistic New Zealand will get out of this outbreak - but it all depended on the community's ongoing response.

He said on current progress, he expected the country to emerge from lockdown in a few weeks.

But Skegg, the Government's adviser on elimination, told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking that even with vaccination levels up, public health measures would still need to be maintained with Delta.

"Unfortunately there's no easy way out of. I'd love to say Santa Claus exists but unfortunately whatever we do in New Zealand we are going to have some tough times ahead."

Skegg maintained elimination remained the best option for New Zealand. "No one would have wished to have this outbreak but the good thing is that it is making people realise we need to get vaccinated," he said.

"I'm cautiously optimistic that we will get out of this but Delta is definitely a lot more infectious, it's a lot more difficult to stamp out and it really all depends on us," said Skegg.

"If we observe the lockdown better than Melbourne and Sydney have done then, of course, we will get rid of this in the next few weeks ... I'm expecting this to happen."

Cases in NSW

There are 882 cases of Covid in New South Wales today.

Cases peaked at over 1000 on Thursday.

Two Covid-related deaths were also reported by NSW Health - a man in his 60s and a man in his 90s. The death toll in the current outbreak now stands at a total of 81.

There are currently 767 Covid-19 cases admitted to hospital in NSW, with 117 people in intensive care, 47 of whom require ventilation.

Since the Sydney outbreak began in mid-June, there have been 16,556 local cases reported.

Most of NSW is nearly 10 weeks into lockdown but chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant has warned that the state is still yet to hit the peak of its current outbreak.

New locations of interest

New locations of interest in Auckland have been released by health officials today.

The ministry has confirmed that an Auckland school in Ōtāhuhu is among the locations of interest. The school has already publicly announced they are affected after a student tested positive.

Anyone who was at the school on Tuesday, August 17, between 8am and 3.15pm is considered a close contact.

The University of Auckland's maths department building is another major location. Anyone who was at the building, on 38 Princes St, on Tuesday, August 17, between 9.22am and 5pm is affected.

Three of the new locations were visited by a positive case or cases while the country has been in alert level 4 lockdown.

A positive case visited the Pacific Fresh Māngere store, at 423 Roscommon Road in Clendon Park, on Saturday August 21. The affected time is between 2pm and 2.30pm.

A positive case also visited the Wholesale Meats Direct shop, at 257 East Tāmaki Rd in Otara, for two hours on Saturday. They were there between 10am and 12pm and anyone who was there at the same time is told to monitor their health and look out for any Covid symptoms.

They must self-isolate for 14 days and if symptoms develop, get a Covid test and stay home until a negative result comes back.

A Covid positive case was at the Mascot Ave Dairy Māngere, at 51 Mascot Avenue, for 15 minutes between 6.30pm and 6.45pm on Tuesday (August 24).