11 new cases of COVID-19

Media release

21 August 2020

There are eleven new confirmed cases of COVID-19 to report in New Zealand today.

Nine are related to the community outbreak in Auckland and two are new imported cases.

Of the nine community cases, five are linked to different churches in South Auckland. Four are household contacts.

This morning there were a total of 223 possible contacts from five churches who have been identified as linked to the cluster.

These contacts are in self isolation and 170 have already been tested with results pending. Further tracing and testing will continue and these figures will be updated as we receive more information.  

The Ministry and public health services would like to thank the Pasifika churches for their cooperation and help in keeping their congregations safe with the provision of advice and assistance in tracing, testing and isolating close contacts.

There are 143 people linked to the cluster who have been moved into the Auckland quarantine facility. This includes 70 people who have tested positive and their household contacts.

The 11 new confirmed cases reported today bring our total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 to 1,315 which is the number we report to the World Health Organization.

The total number of active cases in New Zealand is 105.  Sixteen of the active cases are from managed isolation facilities.

The imported cases include a female in her 30s travelling from London via Hong Kong, who arrived in New Zealand 15 August and became unwell 19 August. A male in his 50s, returned from Basra via Dubai and Sydney, arriving in New Zealand between 16 – 17 August  –  more details will be provided when available.

Both are being transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.

Of the 89 cases in the community outbreak, 88 are now linked to the cluster, and one case remains under investigation.

The possibility that the maintenance worker from the MIQ at Rydges contracted the virus after being in the lift shortly after the hotel guest remains one line of investigation.

Since 11 August, 1,999 close contacts of the community outbreak have been identified and 1,924 have been contacted and are now self-isolating.

Links being investigated

The community case under investigation who works in St Lukes Mall has been linked to the current community outbreak using genome sequencing. However, an epidemiological link is still to be established.

One important line of investigation underway includes an Auckland Transport bus trip that the person took on the morning of 12 August.
After an interview to discuss the St Lukes’ person’s movements, public health staff have established that a case that is part of the community outbreak may have been on this bus at the same time.

The two people are unknown to each other.

The Ministry is working with Auckland Transport analytics. Further advice to members of the Auckland community about the particular bus route will be advised as it becomes available.

The Ministry of Health does remind people that the wearing of masks, social distancing and proper hand hygiene are a good defence against exposure to the virus.

Hospital care

There are eight people receiving hospital-level care for COVID-19 and all of these are part of the Auckland community cluster.

There are two people in Auckland City Hospital, one person in North Shore Hospital and five people in Middlemore Hospital.

Seven of these are stable on a ward and one person in Middlemore remains in ICU. The Ministry won’t be saying anything more about this at this time.

An additional person in Waikato Hospital was hospitalised, not as a direct result of COVID-19.

All of the cases who are in hospital are isolated and carefully managed separately from other patients. The public can be confident that our DHBs are managing this effectively, as they did in the first outbreak of COVID-19 in New Zealand.

The Ministry has heard reports of people who are reluctant to get an ambulance or go to hospital. Hospitals continue to be safe places to receive medical care, and people should feel confident going to hospital to receive treatment.

Community testing

The number of tests completed yesterday was 15,714 bringing our total tests to date to 673,220.

Border testing

The second round of testing of border workers is starting next week and will take two weeks to complete.

A regular testing plan of all who work at the border throughout New Zealand is being finalised and will commence from then.  

Exemptions

Under the current Alert Level 3 restrictions there are strict criteria around who can enter and leave Auckland.

To date, the Ministry has received more than 9,000 applications for exemptions. More than 4,000 exemptions were processed yesterday so decisions are being made quickly. More than 1,200 have been approved and 200 declined.

Ten percent of applications are from people who do not need to apply. A reminder to please see the covid.govt.nz website for a list of industries that are exempt.

NZ COVID Tracer

More than 1 million New Zealanders have downloaded the app in the last ten days, bringing the total to 1.67 million users.

115,319 NZBN-registered businesses now have their QR codes.

Due to the huge uptake in QR code posters, turnaround for manual requests is currently 24 hours. This is for manual requests where people cannot use the self service portal.

For any app users experiencing issues – there is an app support team you can contact on 0800 800 606 or [email protected].


Media contact

Andrea Birtwistle
021 707 503

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