Daily COVID-19 Developments (15.08.20)

Daily COVID-19 Developments (15.08.20)

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The Minister of Health Chris Hipkins and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield provided an update on COVID-19 at 1:00 pm today.

7 new total cases. 6 of the 7 new cases are already linked to previous cases in this cluster that’s in the community. One of the new cases remains under investigation.

The number of active cases is 56, of which 37 are from the community outbreak, and 19 are reported cases in quarantine.

The seven new cases bring a total number of confirmed cases to 1,258, which is the number MOH (Ministry of Health) reports to the World Health Organization. 

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“As I said earlier, of the 37 cases in total which are our community, a total number of cases in our community outbreak, 35 have been clearly linked to the cluster, and the other 2 remain under investigation,” said Bloomfield.

Case information:

Six of the new cases are already linked to previous cases in this cluster that’s in the community. One of the new cases remains under investigation.

“This is in addition to the one case from yesterday where the link to the extant outbreak is still being investigated to firmly establish what that link is. In both cases, we feel quite confident that they will be linked to the outbreak,” said Ashley Bloomfield.

54 people linked to the cluster have been moved to a quarantine facility, incl 24 of the people who have tested positive.

Testing:

23,846 tests were processed yesterday. The total number of tests is now 524,414.

The national contact tracing service has 1,090 close contacts identified, 934 of those have been contacted by 10 am this morning.

“Those people are all in self-isolation and will be tested, should that be indicated,” said Bloomfield.

Over the past 24hrs as of 9 am this morning, 583 managed isolation and quarantine staff, 976 airport staff and 270 maritime staff have been tested.

“Our contact tracing is hitting its target,” Hipkins said.

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The volume of testing is giving the country confidence.

Yesterday laboratory-processed 23,846 tests, brought the number of completed tests since 12th August to 49,780, and the total number of nationwide tests to date is 548,260.

Capacity has previously been around 12,000 to 13,000 tests per day.

“This is starting to give us a very good picture about this cluster,” said Hipkins.

All cases so far are all close contacts to the current cases in the community cluster. Random cases have not popped up around the country and in Auckland yet.

The Christchurch lab today will be processing 4,000 samples taken from Auckland.

“We are in the process of contacting those close contacts and plea to anyone who is associated with or maybe a close contact. Please take or return the call,” said Bloomfield.

80 per cent of close contacts are contacted within 48 hrs of a positive test result being achieved.

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From the 6th to 12th August, 86 per cent of close contacts were contacted within that 48 hr period.

“It is the virus that is the problem here and not the people. The reports that we are seeing of pockets of anger and blame are completely unacceptable, not only disappointing but also dangerous so we cannot have people who are feeling unwell not going in getting a test because they are concerned of the consequences and are fearful because of a potential backlash,” said Hipkins.

Hipkins is encouraging everyone that did visit the same places the cases were at to get tested if they have a cold or flu symptoms.

International:

There are two investigations underway of International travellers, one who travelled to Japan and tested positive on arriving and one who travelled to Belgium and tested positive on arrival.

“We are doing our best to work with both those individuals and the national focal points in those two countries. One is a Japanese traveller who left NZ on 8th August and transited through Singapore to Japan. The other is someone who travelled to Belgium on 6th August and also transited through Singapore via Amsterdam. Both were asymptomatic in New Zealand. Both cases are considered low risk, and to date, there is no evidence of transmission or where they were infectious in NZ. However, as a part of being very proactive and precautionary, we are undertaking some contact tracing, and testing of any close contacts or the results of any testing so far have been negative,” said Bloomfield.

11 of the close contacts of the Japanese case so far have been contacted and are in self-isolation with testing underway or tested.

1 of the close contact of the person who travelled to Belgium has been in self-isolation and is well, and further investigation and contact tracing is underway.

Tokoroa:

The people that did test positive are being transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility, and their whanau and close contacts are in self-isolation with over-sight from the local medical officer of health and support from the local community and iwi.

Close contacts have all returned negative from above.

Morrinsville residential aged care facility:

The test results from the Kingswood rest home in Morrinsville, all staff and residents at the facility have been tested and all have returned a negative result for COVID-19.

“However they and the close contacts are in Tokoroa and elsewhere, do continue to do that 14 days of isolation as an additional measure,” said Bloomfield.

Two of the staff at the facility will remain in self-isolation, as a precautionary measure away from the Kingswood rest home.

“I would like to thank the rest home from their fantastic assistance and rapid response,” said Bloomfield.

Masks:

3,000,000 of the 5,000,000 masks are now available to community groups and social groups, at one point 6,000,000 were dispatched across 125 groups, and another further order for 400,000 masks was received yesterday from other community organisations, and those will be on the way.

Genome sequencing:

The tests have not matched any of the cases in these facilities.

“We continue to test all of these staff with the aim of every border and MIQ staff member being tested by the end of Monday,” said Hipkins.

Businesses/Apps:

“Registrations have doubled in the last four days, and the number of QR codes has doubled during the previous four days,” said Hipkins.

There are now 1,303,200 people using the app, and there are 186,480 QR codes on display around the country.

“Excellent news,” said Hipkins.

All businesses must have a QR code before the 19th August to help contact tracing; otherwise, they may face penalties. 

Travel exemptions:

There are restrictions on people leaving and entering the Auckland metro region.

“These restrictions are designed to protect the health of people both inside and outside Auckland. So, with that Auckland border being essentially being closed, there is a need for an exemptions process, and we now have that in place, we have received over 100 requests for exemptions, and all have been acknowledged and to date, there have been, 45 have been processed and approved to date,” said Bloomfield.

Details about the exemptions and how to apply are available online on the MOH (Ministry of Health) website.

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