Grant Robertson and Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay have given the latest update on the government’s Covid-19 response.
There were 71 community cases reported today – all in Auckland – after 55 new cases of Covid-19 were reported in the community yesterday.
Speaking at today’s briefing, Robertson the rise in case numbers were not unexpected, “but they are rising more quickly” and the government was continuing to act on public health advice.
“Every day we discuss the cases and the numbers with public health teams on the ground in Auckland and in the Ministry of Health. Their advice has not changed. We can actively control this outbreak at alert level 3.”
He said “very few” of the cases were coming from transmission in the workplace.
“Where they are coming from is still within households, some in our health settings, and a large number in gatherings inside peoples’ homes.
“We did see this happening in alert level 4 as well, and sadly it has continued into alert level 3.
“These gatherings inside peoples’ homes are not allowed in alert level 3 as much s they were not allowed in alert level 4.
“My message today is clear: We need people in Auckland to stick to the alert level 3 rules.”
He said the outbreak was not in a small geographical area, it was affecting people in all parts of the city.
“Which makes it everyone’s job in Auckland to help prevent its spread.”
Robertson said New Zealand’s alert level 3 was among the toughest measures in the world and it had worked to contain outbreaks before – but Delta was a tricky and challenging opponent.
“It has never been more important to follow the basic rules we’ve applied since the start of last year when Covid first arrived in New Zealand.
“Treat those around you as if they may have Covid. Limit contact with others and maintain physical distance.
“Wear a mask whenever you go out of the house. Use the contact tracer app wherever you go. Wash your hands regularly and get vaccinated. It is the best tool we have to protect ourselves from the virus and eventually move down our alert levels.”
Robertson said the first dose number in Auckland was about 87 percent, but it had not budged in the past few days.
The second dose number, at 66 percent, was increasing, but Robertson said both those numbers needed to reached over 90 per cent to really make a difference to future cases and ensure the hospitalisation rates stay low.
He also urged people to remain in their bubbles and stick to the safety protocols, which included mask-wearing and maintaining physical distancing.
“I’m conscious that the longer the restrictions go on, the harder it is to maintain our defences, but it has never been more important to follow the basic rules,” he said.
Dr McElnay said the public health system had the capacity to deal with Covid-19 case numbers and she was not seeing pressure across the system currently.
She said 170-180 cases a day would put pressure on the system
Yesterday, the government announced the current Covid-19 alert level 3 response in parts of Waikato and Northland will remain for another five days.
The areas will remain at the current level until at least Monday. Auckland continues to remain at step 1 of alert level 3.
In Northland, there have been no reported cases since two women travelled there from Auckland and tested positive for the virus.
Today, two women who travelled from Auckland to the South Island have been arrested in Blenheim and charged with failing to comply with a health order.
Police and the Ministry of Health are investigating how they were able to leave Auckland.