Two new cases of Covid today; Hipkins unhappy with testing numbers

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 7 Jul 2020, 1:11PM

Two new cases of Covid today; Hipkins unhappy with testing numbers

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 7 Jul 2020, 1:11PM

There are two new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today.

Both cases are women - one in her 20s and the other 30s - and from the same family.

They are from Afghanistan. Both were found to be positive on the day three test after arriving in New Zealand.

They are both in managed isolation - it has been 67 days since community transmission was last detected in NZ.

There is now no one hospitalised with Covid-19 - a patient previously in an Auckland hospital has been released.

There are 22 active cases in NZ, all in managed isolation. There have been 1186 confirmed cases in New Zealand.

There were 1641 tests yesterday, including There were 505 tests in managed isolation facilities.

New Health Minister Chris Hipkins said he had asked officials to increase testing in the coming days and weeks.

New Zealand does not need to be testing at the rate it had at its peak - which was around 12,000 a day - but it was important testing still occurs, he said.

The aim was for about 4000 a day, Hipkins said.

He said the current level of testing "isn't meeting the Government's expectations."

Hipkins - fronting his first Covid-19 update since being made Health Minister last week - said doctors needed to exercise their own judgement when it came to who was tested.

He put the onus back on health officials to decide who should be tested and why, he said.

There were no capacity issues - the Government can get up to around 13,000 tests a day if needed, he said.

But officials don't need to get that high at the moment.

Hipkins said he would meet officials later this week to get to the bottom of why the amount of testing has gone down. He had not yet had a good enough answer from health officials as to why the test numbers were so low, Hipkins said.

There was a decline in numbers before the weekend.

Hipkins talked to officials about the testing issue today. There was an "absolute sense of urgency" around the issue and officials were made aware of this, he said.

He had made it clear that he wants the number of daily tests to be increased to 4000 within days, he said.

Health advice the Government received was that was the number of peoplee who should be tested a day.

New Zealand "certainly" has capacity for surge testing, he said.

Hipkins left the door open for asymptomatic people to be tested, saying they have tested positive in the past.

He said the 4000 figure was based on statistics.

Asked about the Covid-19 tracer app, he said there were 590,000 registered users.

But he said people have been getting out of the habit to sign in and called on the public to continue to do so.

He said there were 700 more managed isolation beds coming online this week.

Asked if Queenstown had been ruled out in terms of hosting a managed isolation facility, he said: "Never say never."

He said officials were working as quickly as they could to scale up the number of beds in New Zealand.

The Covid Card scheme was still under consideration.

He said both the Prime Minister and previous Minister of Health David Clark had been monitoring the testing numbers.

He said ministers agreed the numbers were not good enough.

Asked if the Government was looking into using cruise ships as a way to quarantine, he said the Government was considering all its options.

But any options undertaken would need to be safe.

"Everything is on the table at this point, as long as it meets the right criteria."

He said there was no appetite from the Government to block Kiwis coming home from overseas.

He said the Government needed to show compassion to those in isolation.

Yesterday, there was one new case – a man in his 20s who arrived from London on July 4, via Doha and Sydney.

He was taken straight from Auckland Airport to the quarantine facility as he had symptoms of Covid-19 upon arrival.

The Public Health Unit will be interviewing the man to find out more details.

Hipkins will also be questioned on the progress of the investigation into a massive leak of Covid-19 related information to the media.

The inquiry was launched to uncover "exactly who" did it and why Covid-19 patient details were leaked.

Hipkins appointed former solicitor-general Mike Heron, QC, to lead the probe into the massive Covid-19 privacy breach.

The Herald revealed on Saturday that the personal details of 18 active cases had been leaked in a spreadsheet, including their names and dates of births. Two other media outlets have also reported seeing the document.