11 new cases of Covid-19 – 9 linked to the Auckland cluster and 2 captured at the border; A worker from St Lukes was reportedly on the same bus as someone from the Auckland cluster; Decision on alert levels expected Monday

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There are 11 new cases of new Covid-19 in New Zealand – nine connected to the Auckland cluster and two imported from overseas and taken in managed isolation.

Of the nine new community cases, five are religious contacts and four are family contacts.

Health Director General Ashley Bloomfield said genome sequencing suggests the country’s unrelated community case, who works at St Lukes Shopping Center, may have been on the same bus as someone from the cluster of Auckland.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Cabinet would make a decision on alert levels on Monday.

She said there was no reason to suggest a need to increase alert levels, nor a change from the status quo at this time. Ardern also said it would give 48 hours’ notice before moving alert levels.

Auckland is therefore expected to remain at Level 3 and the rest of the country at Level 2, until at least 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, August 26 – according to the original plan.

Case model the key consideration

Bloomfield said he would not only consider the number of cases when advising Cabinet on what to do, but also the model. In other words, it is possible to anticipate whether new cases are linked to households, schools, workplaces and churches.

Ardern said criteria for shifting alert levels include trends in virus transmission, the ability and ability to test and trace contacts, the effectiveness of border measures and the capacity of the health system.

It also includes the effects on local economies, populations at risk, the way people followed the rules and the ability to operationalize a new level of alert.

“So much hinges on the activities in our biggest city this weekend,” she said, urging the Aucklanders to continue playing by the rules and thanking them for their “sacrifice”.

Locks will not necessarily be necessary in the future

Ardern did not expect the country to be contained every time community transmission was detected.

She said there were factors with the Auckland cluster – the fact that the outbreak was occurring in a densely populated area and the origin could not be traced – that made it necessary to move to Level 3.

She said that move wouldn’t have been necessary if the only community case was the person doing maintenance work at the Rydges Hotel. This case was quickly linked to a person staying at the facility, who used an elevator a few minutes before the maintenance worker.

Testing the tips

A total of 89 cases of Covid-19 have been found in the community as part of this second outbreak.

Eight people are hospitalized. One of these people is in intensive care.

Almost 16,000 tests were performed yesterday. 170,515 tests have been performed since the start of the current alert settings.

Bloomfield said surge testing of border workers is nearing completion and planning for a second wave of testing next week is underway. After that, there will be a program for regular testing of border workers.

More than 9,000 requests for exemptions to cross the Auckland border have been received. Over 4000 were processed yesterday and over 1200 were approved.

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