'Say yes to the test': Govt unveils new Covid messaging

Amelia Wade, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 3 Aug 2020, 4:20PM

'Say yes to the test': Govt unveils new Covid messaging

Amelia Wade, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 3 Aug 2020, 4:20PM

The Prime Minister remains cautious on a potential travel bubble - despite the revelation today that Auckland Airport is being split into separate zones in preparation.

Jacinda Ardern and Health Minister Chris Hipkins spoke this afternoon at the final post-Cabinet press conference ahead of the election on September 19.

She has also spoken about new Covid-19 messaging for New Zealand and shed light on how the virus response will be maintained in the lead-up to the election.

Ardern said the Covid-19 response would continue and Cabinet will meet once a fortnight. The Ministry of Health would still release its daily updates.

Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield and the Health Minister will hold a weekly press conference.

Voters would have to decide in September whether they continue with the Government's plan or stop and go with other options, said Ardern.

"We're asking to keep going."

Labour's plan to address debt was investing in people and job creation while the Opposition's was austerity, Ardern said.

She wouldn't rule out campaigning on another top tax bracket.

Ardern said she took nothing for granted heading into the election, when asked if she thought she had the election "in the bag".

"We will campaign hard every single day, we will assume nothing."

Travel bubbles

It was revealed this afternoon that Auckland Airport's international terminal will be split into two separate zones in preparation for safe travel bubbles.

In anticipation of a safe air corridor being formed between New Zealand and the Cook Islands, the airport is preparing to separate different categories of travellers as they pass through the terminal.

Planning is in the final stages, the airport revealed today.

Ardern said there was a lot of pressure on the Government to open a travel bubble, but she said it had to be done with caution to protect the Pacific Islands.

Airports were "high risk" zones so the Government needed to be absolutely sure there was no interaction between groups before a Pacific travel bubble was set up.

She said we had to move very carefully.

There would need to be extra checks and balances happening in New Zealand to ensure there was no community transmission here before opening travel up to the Pacific.

She hasn't put a timeframe on a transtasman bubble but it was clear it wasn't safe to do that now.

She said it would take "a significant amount of time" before Victoria was Covid-free and that would slow down any progress for a travel bubble.

"We wish Victoria all the very best as they continue to combat what is a devastating situation."

Having a suburb-specific lockdown - like Victoria attempted - would only happen in very specific situations.

Opening a travel bubble broader than Pacific wasn't on the Government's minds, Ardern said.

New messaging

Ardern said the Government was also dialling up its Covid-19 messaging calling on New Zealanders "to be ready" in response to "some behaviours" they'd seen New Zealanders doing - including rejecting tests.

"We cannot afford to be complacent.

"Perhaps people will be dismissive, perhaps that think what they've got it just the flu and they don't need to worry."

When asked about the new messaging, Ardern said that when New Zealand moved into alert level 1, the intent was for Kiwis to maintain good hygiene, contact tracing and testing but those practices had fallen away.

"We still need people to be on guard."

She urged everyone asked to get a test if they were offered one, as testing would help ensure there wasn't community transmission.

"Please say yes to the test."

Hipkins said most people in managed isolation were accepting virus tests on day three and if they didn't take a test on day 12, they had to stay in facilities for 28 days, so were incentivised to take one.

Two new cases

Today there were two new cases of the virus in managed isolation.

The first case was a male teenager who arrived in New Zealand from the US on July 29. He tested positive on day three of his stay at the Sudima Hotel in Auckland.

The second case is a man in his 20s who arrived from Switzerland via Amsterdam and Seoul on July 20. He has been staying at the Sudima Hotel in Christchurch and tested negative around day three of his stay before testing positive at his second routine test.

There are 27 active Covid-19 cases in managed isolation and quarantine facilities. New Zealand's total number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 is 1217.

It has been 94 days without community transmission.