Covid 19 coronavirus: Last case data before Cabinet considers alert level change

Kiwis are set to find out whether there are any new Covid-19 community cases today, with Cabinet poised to meet to consider lowering the alert levels.

The Ministry of Health will reveal the latest results in a 1pm media statement.

That will be followed by a Cabinet meeting to decide on whether Auckland can exit its alert level 3 lockdown this weekend and the rest of the country can move out of alert level 2.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is then scheduled to hold a press conference at 4pm, which will be livestreamed here.

It comes as there were no new positive cases of Covid-19 in the community yesterday – the fourth straight day.

Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield yesterday said he was confident a “sharp perimeter” had been erected around the current outbreak.

“Now is not the time to reassess alert levels, but Cabinet is meeting tomorrow on that,” he said at the time.

“What we will be looking for over the next 24 to 48 hours is continuing [to ensure] our close contacts remain in isolation.”

He also wanted to see test results come back from the last of the contacts, who had been at CItyFitness Papatoetoe gym at the same time as a person who later tested positive to Covid, along with another day of no new community cases ahead of the Cabinet discussions.

“All of this will give us confidence there is no ongoing transmission,” he said.

“The priority is to make sure we have tied up all loose ends from the college and casual-plus contacts from the earlier Kmart exposure, MIT and the gym last week.”

On the big re-testing programme at Papatoetoe High School, Bloomfield said 11 students had not yet had a second test.

Eight were visited on Wednesday – two had refused tests but were being managed with isolation plans. There is one student that the ministry was still actively trying to find.

It was important to get to the last remaining students before making any decision on whether Auckland would change alert levels, Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins said earlier in the day.

Bloomfield said the Papatoetoe High School community had responded well – “that is hugely helpful and complementary to any messages we put out publicly”.

He said he was unsure why two students are refusing tests.

“There is a small number of people who subscribe to the idea that Covid-19 doesn’t exist, but they are managed and isolated and [we have] made sure there is no risk.

“All the 15 cases we have are in four families. All are contained in the Auckland quarantine facility and we are going back to confirm there’s no ongoing transmission.

“We just need to be sure there hasn’t been seeding of this outbreak outside of Auckland.

“The vast majority of people are doing what they are asked. People know what’s expected and they do it, and that’s how we’ve been successful.”

There were no other “exposure events” for case N – a mother who went walking with another positive case when they were meant to be isolating.The main concern was their workplace colleagues and they have all tested negative.

Active Case M

In terms of active case M, who visited CityFitness Papatoetoe, Bloomfield said: “We have found many people at the gym but still some with test results pending and some need to remain isolating”.

“The key things we are looking for are not just the fact we have casual and casual plus contacts … wider testing provides assurance we don’t have wider transmission.”

There had been 14,671 tests processed with 7853 from across Auckland as of yesterday. The seven-day rolling average of tests was 9721.

Bloomfield said 45 home visits had been undertaken since Monday – in all visits, people expected to be isolating were doing so.

Of the 185 attendees at CityFitness and Hunters Plaza on February 26, 156 of them (casual plus contacts) have returned a negative test and 29 are due for testing and are being followed up on.

At MIT there are 44 casual plus contacts from February 22 to 25 February – two have returned negative day 5 tests and all have been successfully contacted, and the other two who haven’t yet returned a test result are being followed up.

Regarding Kmart, of the 1882 people who were at that exposure event 43 have not yet returned a test result and the Ministry of Health has been in touch with 42 of them, and they are complying with isolation requirements.

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