COVID-19 update 14 September 2021

News article

14 September 2021

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield will update the media today at 1pm.

>> (SPEAKS TE REO MAORI) before I begin today, I will hand over to Dr Bloomfield to give us the latest case numbers. 

>> (SPEAKS TE REO MAORI)  We are in the second day, as you know, of Te Wiki o Te Reo Maori - Maori language week. Kia kaha Te Reo Maori.

On the Auckland outbreak we are reporting 15 new cases of COVID-19 all in the Auckland area.

That takes our total number of cases in this outbreak up to 970. Of whom 397 people have now recovered which is good news.

 The fall in the number of cases today is encouraging, and even more encouraging is that there are no unlinked cases today.

All of these new cases are household contacts from five known households with the majority linked to just three households. We know of course that Delta spreads more easily within households, so to some extent these new cases were expected. While some of these houses have not yet been linked to the wider outbreak if ideologically, they have not popped up unexpected Lee. -- unexpectedly.

The case we mentioned yesterday which had not been linked, that has now been linked.

The number of cases in the last 14 days that are not yet linked has now fallen to 10.

There are 22 people currently in Auckland hospitals, four are in intensive care, and all require ventilation.

 It remains crucial that we maintain high levels of testing in Auckland to detect any final cases of COVID-19 that may be in the community. High rates of testing will help Auckland get out of lockdown as planned and stay out.

Our priority is now on testing as many people as possible in the coming days from the following suburbs in Tamaki Makaurau. Massey, Mangere, Favona, Papatoetoe, Otara and Manurewa so if you live in these suburbs, if you have symptoms, please get tested. If you receive an invitation to get tested, even if you have no symptoms, I encourage you strongly to take up that testing. It is part of our surveillance testing we are doing in the suburbs.

Of course anyone across Auckland and indeed New Zealand with cold or flu symptoms no matter how mild, please come forward for testing.

The latest data on flulike illness from ESR shows low rates in the community so it is very important anyone with symptoms gets tested.

We also encourage families with children to get tested altogether as we are seeing COVID-19 cases in children, including quite a number in this outbreak. If you are going out for a COVID-19 test, bring your whanau with you.

Surveillance testing of essential workers continues across Auckland because they are out and about during Alert Level 4. A wide range of essential workers from a range of industries have been asked to get tested even without symptoms. This includes healthcare, emergency services, workers at petrol stations, transport workers, supermarkets and dairies.

 Those permitted to cross the Auckland Alert Level boundaries are also required to provide proof of a test within the last seven days.

So far this month since 1 September, we have tested 15,685 essential workers across the Auckland region with no positive cases identified. In terms of that testing for people crossing the Auckland boundary, nasopharyngeal swabbing is available nationwide whether you are working in Tamaki Makaurau or outside. Available at testing centres, community testing centres, GP practices, and for a list of those places go to Healthpoint. Testing is free and please let the tester know you are doing it for the purposes of crossing the Alert Level boundary as a permitted worker.

On contact tracing we are now focusing efforts on 1242 contacts that are under active management. This is a change to the reporting total contacts for the whole outbreak. The number of contacts under active management is now down to a much smaller number, as I said, over the last two weeks as the majority of our contacts have either now returned negative tests or have had exposure is more than 18 days ago and we are not generating significant numbers of new contacts outside of households now.

On the wastewater side, there was a positive result received from a sample taken last week in Pukekohe. The health team advised there were four cases in the area who were previously quarantined and have now returned home. This could have explained the result but I would like to say anyone in that area, if you have symptoms, please get tested.

There is pop-up testing available and they have increased the people at the pop-up testing to make sure there is sufficient capacity today. There have been no other unexpected detections in wastewater samples taken in Auckland or around the country.

Just a reminder, our hospitals are safe. I have spoken with and had communication from Counties- Manukau's Chief Medical Officer Doctor Pete Watson reminding people in South Auckland if you need emergency care, do not hesitate to go to the emergency department. There are strict protocols to keep you safe and to keep staff safe. All staff are using N95 masks, goggles and gowns. Everyone who arrives at the ED is carefully assessed to see if there might have been any exposure to COVID-19. If there is any doubt, they are treated as if they could be. Patients who may have been exposed to COVID-19 or those who have symptoms are kept separate from other patients.

Middlemore Hospital is now testing a high proportion of patients to be extra cautious, who are arriving at ED. Finally a shout out today for hard-working Auckland paramedics who continue to go each day into the homes of hundreds of Aucklanders to assess them and take care of them and transport them to hospital if needed despite the current outbreak.

 Thank you for your dedication to the well-being of Aucklanders. (SPEAKS TE REO MAORI)  

>> Thank you, you may have guessed the theme over the past couple of days has been vaccinated, vaccinate, vaccinate, with a focus on Tamaki Makaurau and what we intend to be there last week in level 4. As I said yesterday there is nothing holding us back in Auckland when it comes to vaccines. There is capacity to administer 220,000 doses of the vaccine in the region this week. If around 130 of those are people's first dose, Aucklanders will hit 80% coverage of first vaccination in one week's time. And we will be well on our way to the city being better protected against the virus. Let me be clear on why this is important. It literally saves lives and prevents hospitalisation.

 There is real-world evidence in New Zealand and internationally that proves you are far less likely to get COVID and far less likely to get sick and need to go to hospital if you are vaccinated. Getting vaccinated protects you, your family, your loved ones and our economy.

That is why it is so important to everyone, but especially those in Tamaki Makaurau, to get vaccinated as soon as possible. If you are sitting at home in Auckland watching this now, or listening on the radio and you are yet to get your first vaccine, I am going to suggest as soon as I have wrapped up, you go and make a booking. That includes people who may have bookings later in the month or in October. Chances are you will be able to bring that looking forward to this week. You can do this online at Book My. Just remember -- Book My Vaccine. Bringing forward your booking shouldn't be a problem. There are many more spaces available this week and you can try your GP. More GPs and pharmacies are coming online every day.

There are now more than 100 GPs and 30 pharmacies delivering vaccinations across Auckland so call them and see if they have space available this week.

Meanwhile our two drive-through site at the Auckland airport park and ride and trust Arena in Henderson can do over 5000 today at each site. There is no booking required, you can simply show up. As well as the standard options there are other great examples of initiatives that are making the vaccine access to everyone and I thought I would mention if you briefly. A pop-up clinic at the University of Auckland for onsite residents, students and staff began on Saturday and has its final data. -- day today.

The Northern Region health coordination Centre has been running vaccination centres at four specialist schools in Auckland - Somerville, Parkside, Wairau valley and Wilson. International evidence tells us COVID has caused disproportionate harm for disabled people so we are working hard to get the vaccine to this group of New Zealanders.

This morning the Minister for disability issues helped launch a Taikura trust initiative to get people vaccinated. They will be prioritising vaccinations for the disabled all week at the marae . You don't have to book, but try to be there by 2pm at the latest so you can be processed. This follows similar initiatives elsewhere in the country, for example the Hunt valley DHB and Autism New Zealand provided and autism friendly vaccination option in Petone have heard encouraging stories of those with autism who have never participated in a vaccine program accessing a vaccine against COVID.

There has been much talk of a Mr whippy Mobile vaccine bus or portable vaccinations. I am pleased to confirm the Northern Region health coordination Centre will launch its first buses this Thursday. The initial plan is to take them into areas where we know vaccination numbers have been low or people have not been able to access vaccination services as easily. The aim is to increase the network from the expected six on Thursday up to 12 over the coming weeks. A huge thank you to Auckland airport and Bus Travel New Zealand who supplied the vehicles for this work.

 In Australia they have started operating something similar and named their clinics Jabba the Bus. I am sure we can do better.

 The vaccine is the best weapon we have in our toolbox and our ticket to greater freedom. The more people who are vaccinated, the fewer restrictions you have to have. Just as we have been world leading with the success of our elimination strategy, in the future I want New Zealand to be world leading both on the level of freedoms and our health and well-being. And high rates of vaccination is how we can achieve just that. I will now open for questions. 

>> Have you had any updates on whether there is a surge starting in Auckland? Whether people are starting to turn up in numbers? 

>> I haven't had an update. I know that 3 September was the last date where we had the highest reach. You would expect during that period of lockdown in the initial days we had a large number come through. My message to Aucklanders is that you don't need to wait. If you have already booked but it is not until October, bring it forward. If you have not yet booked anything, please go today to one of our drive-through sites. We want to vaccinate as many as possible as quickly as possible and that goes for all of New Zealand. 

>> Why are there no plans to randomly test at places like supermarkets in the known hotspots? 

>> We discussed this a lot. We talked about the past when supermarkets were used. In the past what we have been advised is that the supermarkets have been used well when you have, for instance, a wastewater test and you want to do surveillance testing very quickly on certain sites you don't have ongoing testing. The feedback has been in the current environment that their testing stations they have established for symptomatic and asymptomatics are reaching into the community still at high rates. But we are still considering everything and supermarkets have been on our agenda to be considered. 

>> One other point, rather than random testing the testing happening in Auckland is targeting specific suburbs where there are households where there is a sense that could be other cases in the community so we are not randomly picking people out. They are messaging out into those committees and we are seeing really good rates of testing. -- those communities. 

>> In places in Auckland that have been noted as places of interest twice now, would it make sense to target that community via the supermarket? 

>> I will take advice from our team in Auckland who have been doing this for a while through several outbreaks. Their current thinking is very much they have got good coverage in the suburbs to cover off those populations they want to get surveillance testing done in. And they have some experience having tried before and not finding high rates of take-up because people, if they are going to the supermarket, may well be joining the queue to get their groceries and it may be a lengthy outing already. 

>> We are hearing from people in South Auckland that you are asking them to get tested but some cannot get to the testing sites, is more effort required to expand the mobile testing to get to those who don't have cars and so on? 

>> Yes and we do use mobile testing. 

>> There are over 20 community testing centres set up as well as GPs and urgent care clinics. I know they are using the mobile testing teams to get out especially into those suburbs where they are looking to do the surveillance testing. 

>> I will ask a question of the team, because we have talked a lot about the use of supermarkets, ultimately what we want to do is reach into certain areas and get good levels of testing of those with mild symptoms but also have our teams determine who they want to do the a symptomatically is to not. It's a matter of where and how -- testing a symptomatically per. The team on the ground as a view but we will ask them about the Pak'nSave . 

>> (INAUDIBLE) more expensive, perhaps $15 per dose. (INAUDIBLE) did cabinet decide not to try...? 

>> Absolutely not! I do not need to go back and look at any cabinet papers from that length of time to tell you that we absolutely did not make a decision to delay vaccine for price purposes. Absolutely not. 

>> Did you ask for early access? 

>> In all of our purchase arrangements, keep in mind we were talking with vaccine companies who were promoting at the time vaccines that hadn't even finished clinical trials. We were entering into discussions, arrangements and sometimes purchasing contracts before completion simply to make sure we were in line to receive doses if they proved to be safe. We entered those negotiations very early, but I can tell you at no point did we, for instance, say we would delay ordering something from there so it would be cheaper, absolutely not. 

>> We did see those higher price early access vaccines. 

>> My recollection of all the negotiations was we entered discussions as soon as we could for those vaccines across our portfolio because you remember that we chose multiple vaccines because there were different ones under trial, RNA vaccines, AstraZeneca, those more traditional, we entered discussions with all of them to do cover ourselves so if one proved unsuccessful we would still have options. That was the basis of our choices and negotiations, not price point. We wanted the best vaccines possible for New Zealanders. 

>> So cabinet made a conscious choice to try for those early access vaccines? 

>> Yes. At no point did we say we were opting out of any of the options because of price. It was all about efficacy, which ones cover us. As you saw, there was a range being developed. Our portfolio was all about how we make sure we are covering all our bases, keeping our options open, while everything is in the trial stage. 

>> In May, June, July, many countries had advance purchase agreements, where were we? 

>> You can see we often announced advance purchase agreements before even clinical trials were completed, and then at different stages, different countries engaged in rollout depending on their comfort level with where the trials were at and their revelatory processes. That often determined the difference -- regulatory processes. That often determined the difference for the countries. 

>> Would it be your expectation if police saw a funeral or tangihanga hangar -- happening in the community with over 50 people, they would move to break that up to make 

>> I am not from this vantage point going to give a view on how police undertake their operational duties. They are best placed to make those decisions at that moment in time. Of course they know the orders they are able to enforce and we leave it to them to do that job. 

>> Shouldn't it be a blanket rule if that is happening in the community? 

>> The order and the ability to enforce exists but it is up to the police to determine how and when it is done. They are all operational decisions and of course in those moments they are best placed to determine how to do that safely. 

>> You would be disappointed to see a large-scale gathering and level 4? 

>> I'm not going to make judgements about how police do their job, it is their job and it is a hard job but from time to time we have seen breaches that are not representative of what the vast majority of New Zealanders are doing and the police do a good job on our behalf of dealing with those scenarios when they arise. 

>> Have you given the police any advice, if so, what was the advice around the couple that travelled to Wanaka? (INAUDIBLE) 

>> We have not been asked to give advice to police. The matter for prosecution is in their hands. It's very clear in the order what the expectations are. I don't think they need to come back to us for further advice on that. 

>> Why haven't they come to you last August and in Feb this year when there were breaches, the police would come to you? 

>> Some cases you were involved in as Director-General taking a role but these are very clearly set out in the orders. I recall the one you are talking about but it was a different scenario. They were asking us in a sense to lay the complaint with police but that's not the case here. 

>> Is the ministry working on a proven COVID-19 drug such as Sotrovimab? 

>> It is treatment of illness, I believe. 

>> We are following the evidence around emerging treatments. Pharmac part of that to ensure if they are effective they can be funded. I notice and medication was approved in the UK a couple of weeks ago and an application is with Medsafe and going through the process at the moment. 

>> One was approved last month, why is it taking so long? 

>> I need to know exactly which medications they were and I can check with Medsafe to see. They may well have had applications but they cannot approve medication until the application comes in and all the evidence is provided. 

>> Some our existing drugs that are then used for the treatment of COVID-19 so that may also be a factor. 

>> On vaccination rates, today is the worst day of the month if you take out weekends and when you couldn't vaccinate, why is it so low? 

>> Keeping in mind some of our highest rates previously we were scheduled to be around the 50,000 mark, so circumstances have led us to be in a position where we know we have the capability and the capacity to go much, much higher than that. That's my message today. We know we have the capacity. We know we can do more. So for everyone that is currently booked and might be waiting their turn, the message we are sending out is that you can bring that forward and you should. Get vaccinated as soon as possible. 

>> It feels low to compared to the last three weeks, were you expecting this natural drop- off? 

>> There are a number of things you expect to see with the distance between when you have a large number of first doses, then you get large numbers when they come through for the second dose. When they are due for it in 21 days or six weeks time. There is lots of modelling around what to expect then. The modelling in this period has been difficult because we have seen such extraordinary rates. We have already moved away from those planned projections where we anticipated at a maximum we would be doing 50,000 per day. We are doing more than that and we have consistently done more than that and now we're telling New Zealanders that you can keep going, we have capability for that. 

>> The flower protest outside parliament, they have had to be mulched over the last month? 

>> They sit alongside a number of industries where because our goal at this point is to limit as much contact between people as possible that they haven't been able to go about their usual jobs and livelihoods. And I can only imagine how tough that would be. 

>> Why can they not sell under level 4? 

>> It is about humility risk. Those of -- cumulative risk. Those operating at level for other ones we need for New Zealand to continue to survive and to continue those essentials of life. That heavily falls around food production. But you can see in Auckland, we have had a number of cases that have happened in those food production environments. So we try to reduce risk simply by having as few people who need to be working as possible. 

>> Why is moving the school holidays only being looked at now? 

>> It has been under consideration for a while. The complexity of course being that for our teaching workforce, they are working through lockdown so they continue to work and essentially what you would be asking is for that to continue in the aftermath of lockdown as well. So it is very much wider considerations around workforce as well. Sorry, I will come to a few of you who have not had questions. 

>> Dr Bloomfield, are you concerned about the mental well-being of Aucklanders with the extension and are you confident there is adequate mental health and well-being services available to people? 

>> Kia ora, thank you for that question. Yes, I am concerned. We know that the lockdown period is tough on people and the feedback I have had is that it is really impacting on young people there. What I have been asking and getting from my team as a readout on what service usage we are getting, we are not seeing big spikes including, for example, in the 1737 number. But there is a range of services available so I encourage people, if they are stressed, anxious and finding it a struggle, reach out and get support because it is available. 

>> And four COVID positive cases he might find it overwhelming to reintegrate back into the community, how will they be supported? 

>> It is definitely a thing. Having COVID-19, people are unwell, but there is still that bit of stigma and other things around it. I know that our public health teams keep in contact and provide support to whanau and individuals who are discharged, for example, out of quarantine and back into the community and it is great to see many people now have recovered so there is the opportunity to ask and have their questions answered and make sure those people get the support they need as they reintegrate back into the community. 

>> When we had our conversation as a cabinet around the extension of Alert Level 4 for Tamaki Makaurau one of the conversations we had was about the impact of COVID-19 on tamariki and we know we need to put in sports for young people and do as much as we can -- supports for young people and get as much normality back as quickly as we can. I am mindful some countries have had very long periods where children have been unable to go to kura we want to avoid that, too. 

>> Dr Bloomfield, all today's cases are household contacts. Why are we still seeing household contacts this far into lockdown? 

>> Two reasons. First, some of these are households that have only been identified in the last week or two. You will recall especially last week we had several people who receive services at Middlemore Hospital and a range of different places, and following up those individuals led to households with others who have been exposed to the virus. So we are seeing those cases coming through now. The second of course is the incubation period can be quite lengthy for some, so again we have seen around 16% of people testing positive on day 12 even though the index case may have been found nearly 2 weeks prior to that. 

>> And especially when you have got large families, you can have the knock-on effect as it goes through. Someone may have originally been infected sometime ago but then we see the wider family successively infected, and sadly in some cases it is taking until one of them becomes very unwell to go and seek medical attention.  

>> (INAUDIBLE) would have been possible with previous variants and the vaccines we have, but not now. How does this affect New Zealand's covert -- COVID response long-term? 

>> Something Sean has spoken about over the last couple of weeks, right back to when we launched the Reconnecting New Zealand Plan, factoring in that Delta was changing things up. What Shaun Hendy is referring to is the fact that we are seeing different rates of transmission in vaccinated people with the Delta virus compared to what you might have seen with other variants. However, that doesn't necessarily mean it is any less successful keeping people safe because we are still seeing very high levels of effectiveness when it comes to hospitalisation and death. But because of the transmission and those breakthrough infections, it does change the dynamic. That is why I think you are seeing countries around the world changing up their strategies. Whether you are looking at Singapore, any of the EU countries, you see them altering their strategies and the use of restrictions as a result. Likewise we are reflecting on ours. Elimination continues to be the best option for New Zealand at this point while we vaccinate New Zealanders. The next stage of course is continuing to vaccinate and get the highest rates possible. Then we are able to determine from their what we couple together around vaccination to continue to keep the highest levels of safety and freedoms as possible. But you will see every country still using restrictions. We just don't want to use the highest alert levels as part of them. 

>> Just clarification on the Mr Whitby style bus -- Mr Whippy. 

>> That is being developed by teams across Auckland. I would need to hand that to Dr Bloomfield to find out if we are seeing those in other DHBs. I haven't got any bus ideas but I will leave it in the hands of creative New Zealanders. I know when you have seen challenges like this put out, we see enormous amounts of creativity. I think probably Bussy McBusFace is probably already a given. How about we see how many suggestions come through. I will put something on my social media, and we can vote on them. But let's rule out that Bussy McBusFace from the beginning. 

>> On vaccinations, vaccination status is being used overseas to go into businesses, employment, is it something you support and do you see any legal issues with that? 

>> I support anything that works. We have had a team, including those with a background in human behaviour and psychology, look at the different incentives used in other countries. A major factor for me will be, does it work bringing out more people to get vaccinated, and secondly, taking sure it is fair. You don't want to bring in an incentive and those who showed up early miss out. But I continue to be open- minded so if anyone brings us an idea we think might make a difference, we are happy to take them on. It is good for us if we have as many as possible being vaccinated. Dr Bloomfield? 

>> I couldn't agree more. To go back to your earlier question around the modelling around Delta, what it emphasises is the importance of vaccinating. It doesn't mean vaccination is not helpful. It means we need to get a higher rate. It's very important we do so. And from this outbreak, the latest data I looked at before I came down around 78% of those eligible, that is 12 and over, of our cases were unvaccinated and only 4% were fully vaccinated. So it is living proof of the protection vaccination gives when Delta is in the community. 

>> None of those fully vaccinated people are hospitalised. 

>> Is there anything on your radar for COVID treatments, one of the treatments approved in the US (INAUDIBLE) monoclonal antibodies. 

>> I know there are a number of medications being looked at, at the moment. If you don't mind, maybe I can give that as the emphasis for my comments tomorrow and come well prepared to talk to that specifically. 

>> One general comment. Not to get into too much detail, but some of the treatments that I have seen some reporting on have to be applied very early on into someone's infection. And equally, where they have been used in some countries, sometimes where they have had much larger outbreaks. And they are enormously expensive and still waiting for someone who has COVID and is then treated, the best thing we can do is still vaccinate. That prevents us from being in a situation where we are treating people after the fact. Of course we look at all the options for treatment as well. 

>> One thing I can say categorically about treatment is ivermectin is not a safe treatment for COVID-19. I received dozens of emails per day promoting it, but I can say there are existing medications that have been shown to be helpful for people especially with more severe illness. Ivermectin is not one. I encourage people strongly not to take ivermectin even as a preventative or for the treatment of any symptoms that could be COVID-related. 

>> You gave some pretty big reassurances yesterday... 

>> I gave you my aspiration. 

>> Hadi propose it would worked  

>> How do you propose that would work with the border (INAUDIBLE)? 

>> You would see when we released our plans around reopening, which still stand, we are still all about preventing cases at the border. So that is still a key part of that work because it was a key part of the advice from Professor Skegg. The comments I was making about a Kiwi summer was what we want to do is try and think of the kind of measures you want to have in place. Regardless of what might happen over the course of the summer, what can we do to try and insure some of those events can continue regardless. Are there options for us that mean we can give that level of certainty? It might take and ask on behalf of all of us in how we behave and what we do but let's see if there are those measures we can apply that's the active question I am asking of the team so we can have more certainty. 

>> Would be appropriate for the Climate Change Minister and the COP delegation to take part in the self-isolation trials on their return? Doesn't that risk calls of special treatment? 

>> No. No decisions have been made about specifically who is able to participate at this stage. We have left open the opportunity or the possibility of government officials because, for instance, there are two reasons for that. One, it gives us the ability to get close feedback from those who work within government as to how it is working, and also we have a very small number of people who have to travel for work - trade delegations in particular - where they have already been travelling and they have already experienced MiQ. One of the issues with the COP delegation is whether they would fit within the time period for the trial. I can't remember if they do but no decision has been made at this stage. 

>> Why is it so important for the delegation to go when there are so many Kiwis wanting to come home and they can't get spots in MiQ, or business that need to send people overseas? 

>> Of course, we still continue on a regular basis to have anywhere between 4000 and 5000 people coming into New Zealand and into our managed isolation facilities over the course of a fortnight. There are a small number who may be from within government agencies who need to continue to travel to ensure that New Zealanders are represented in critical talks like trade talks for our UK and EU trade agreements, or for instance in important negotiations around time at work. We are scaling back those delegations.  They are irregular, and in fact we have only had one minister who has used our MiQ facilities in this period. 

>> Are we looking at reviews for MiQ? 

>> There have been talks, keeping in mind that is the regular ballots and we will have more to say soon. People are still coming in but we usually have a regular release of vouchers and that hasn't been happening for a little bit because we have had to prioritise those in the outbreak in New Zealand going into MiQ, and I think people understand why. 

>> Do you have any information on how these two people who breached lockdown ended up in Wanaka, how they got back to Auckland? 

>> No, I don't have any information other than what is in the public domain but the police will be looking into that as part of their investigation. 

>> Do we have a headline figure of the 900 odd cases in this outbreak of how many people who caught COVID have had one or both vaccines? 

>> Yes, we have breakdowns on that. I don't have the figures in front of me right now. 

>> I have got them here. I mentioned the headline figures before. What I might do is come back to you, because I have got the numbers here for the total 955 people. Then I went and asked for them to take out the zero-11 who are not eligible. The headline percentages I gave before are up-to-date based on 12 and over which is 78% of people with no vaccine and 4% fully vaccinated. That is they had their second vaccine at least two weeks before they came a case. 

>> This is where Andrew gets grumpy with me because it he did give me the numbers but I didn't bring them with me. 

>> Totally hypothetical, with the UK qualify as one of the approved countries in the trial? 

>> All that work is still underway. There are a number of factors including the criteria, those participating countries, what would be required of participants and what would be a suitable facility, home or so on, and the way they access testing - that is all being developed. It has been narrowed down. I have seen initial briefings. We would be looking to run that substantively across parts of November. It does of course mean we want to see Auckland in a better position than they are now before we run that. 

>> On COP, Reuters are reporting the US and the EU are about to launch a call for countries to set a 30% reduction in emissions by 2030. New Zealand is named as one of the countries on the naughty list. What is your likely response to this? 

>> Two points. First, our targets are based on the IPCC report on methane reduction. That is where we based our target ranges. We have tried to really lean into the international science in this space because it is important to us and it's important we do our bit. The second point is we do that in the context of those emissions derived from food production being the most significant portion of our overall emissions profile. My view is by developing initiatives that substantively reduce those emissions, we will have something the rest of the world will be very grateful for. So yes. And also the point I would make, it's also about what you do. We are working very hard to actually reduce those emissions in real terms. We are the only country in the world that I know of that has made a commitment to how we will price emissions that are produced through our food production. And you are not seeing that in other countries. 

>> Business is crying out for the public service to return to the CBD, what is your message to the public service should they return? 

>> Yes, we are encouraging people to come back to the city. We have got all of the measures required to keep people safe while they are out and about. So they should feel free to come back into the city, frequent their favourite local cafe, pop into their local retailer, and definitely support local. 

>> The Maori party launched a petition today to officially change the name of the country to Aotearoa and restore all of our place names to the original Maori names. Would you support that? 

>> We have got no plans to go through an official process to change the name of New Zealand. I would say at the same time, I am encouraged by the fact that people are using place names interchangeably. I think that will only continue to grow. 

>> Would it be appropriate to put it as an official name alongside New Zealand? 

>> Te Reo Maori is an official language and we use those names interchangeably and I think we should continue to do so. 

>> Four of the Silver Ferns in Auckland have applied for exemptions to fly to Christchurch to play next week, what are the chances they will be granted those exemptions? 

>> That is not something I have anything to do with. I would not want to speculate. The Minister for Sport and recreation is sitting at the back of the room and you may wish to grab him on the way out. That is a warning for him to leave quickly. Before we leave, we have some front runners. Double jab ute and the jabbing wagon. Keep putting forward your ideas and I will report on them tomorrow. Thanks, everyone. 

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