No new community cases in Wellington; 'not out of the woods yet'

Author
NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Fri, 25 Jun 2021, 12:52PM

No new community cases in Wellington; 'not out of the woods yet'

Author
NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Fri, 25 Jun 2021, 12:52PM

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has warned New Zealand it's too early to feel "comfortable" after reporting no new community coronavirus cases this afternoon.

Wastewater testing showed no Covid-19 had so far been detected around the Wellington region, Hipkins said at today's 1pm update.

There were two new Covid cases in MIQ.

Director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield reinforced Hipkins' message, saying test results from Wednesday and Thursday were important and would be available by Sunday. "We are not out of the woods yet."

Of the infected Australian traveller's 1752 contacts, 532 had returned a negative result. The rest were awaiting their results.

Just over 500 of the infected man's 1752 contacts were deemed close contacts and needed to self-isolate for the full 14 days, including a day 5 test.

The results of the traveller's genome testing were not yet known. Hipkins said it had not affected officials' decision-making as they were presuming the variant was Delta.

Bloomfield said they had seen greater impacts of this variant in Sydney and the UK, where vaccination rates were high. Delta had a clear evolutionary advantage over other strains, and affected young people more.

Hipkins said he had looked at mandatory QR code scanning, but there were big logistical hurdles around enforcement. It would add significant additional compliance for small businesses.

Hipkins said the Government was encouraging people to wear masks where they could not socially distance. Mandatory mask wearing was something officials were looking at. Compliance was an issue, and authorities also did not want to ask people to do things where there was not a good public health rationale.

'We're not out of the woods yet'

Hipkins said authorites were encouraged by today's results, but it was still early.

Director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield said the test results from Wednesday and Thursday were important and would be available by Sunday. "We are not out of the woods yet."

Over 10,000 Covid tests were completed yesterday, including over 3000 in Wellington.

The permanent testing station on Taranaki St in Wellington was at capacity, but there were many other testing stations around the city, Hipkins said. Wait times were reasonably low.

Bloomfield said there were over 50 testing sites in the greater Wellington region. He urged anyone with symptoms and/or who had been at the places of interest at specified times to get tested.

Hipkins said people who had been around someone who had been at a place of interest did not need to be tested or self-isolate. They should just monitor their symptoms.

If they were at a location of interest and had a negative test earlier this week, people should continue to monitor their symptoms for the full 14 days.

Hipkins said the rules applied to all people who had been at the places of interest at the specified times, regardless of whether they were still in Wellington or not.

Hipkins said New Zealand was monitoring the Australian situation "very closely".

The recent case numbers in Sydney indicated the travel pause extension was the right call.

New location of interest

Earlier today, one location was added to the locations of interest: the men's toilets on the first level at the southern end of the domestic concourse of Wellington Airport.

Anyone who used the public bathroom between 9.15 - 9.30am on June 21 is being asked to stay home and get a test around day 5. If that test is negative they are asked to self-monitor for Covid-19 symptoms for 14 days.

Wellington is into its second day at alert level 2, which remains in force until 11.59pm on Sunday.

Bloomfield, speaking this morning with NewstalkZB's Mike Hosking, revealed there were no new cases reported in the community overnight.

"So far, so good - in that we haven't been notified about any positive tests," he said.

Bloomfield said today was pivotal. Wastewater testing, which was also an important signal, would also deliver test results today.

It was important to act early and decisively to get ahead of any outbreak, particularly one connected to a much more contagious variant, Bloomfield said.

Health officials are still to learn if genome test results of the Sydneysider who holidayed in Wellington over the weekend show he has the more contagious Delta variant.

It was taking longer to get the genome sequencing results for the infected Sydney man as staff in the laboratory in Australia were unwell, Bloomfield said.

Hipkins earlier said the Government was working on the basis that the infected man had the more deadly variant.

ESR was now also carrying out daily tests on water samples from the Wellington region. The Health Ministry said so far nothing of concern had been detected.