COVID-19 update 27 September 2021 4pm

News article

27 September 2021

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will give a post-cabinet announcement today at 4pm. The Prime Minister will be joined by Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.


>> Kia ora koutou katoa. Good afternoon.

First we will look to the week ahead before aed hand over to Dr Bloomfield.

Tomorrow the government will confirm conditions to stabilise the housing market with final detail around our interest deductibility proposals.

Also tomorrow minister Sepaloni will announce changes to CCC following the completion of work this past year to ensure fairness for all New Zealanders in times of vulnerability.

On Wednesday, minister Davis will provide the government's response to the ministerial individuals railway board in response to continue to make New Zealand the best place in the world.

Later on Wednesday our counter terrorism Legislation has its third reading tinge to make New Zealand safer but within the parameters we already consult ed on.

On Thursday or Legislation for making an official public holiday receives its first reading in the house.

On Friday I will visit a vaccination centre which will be a chance for me to catch up with providers on the ground hear what's working well with our local communities and what further support we can provide.

I will quickly hand over to Dr Bloomfield for an update before coming back with two border related announcements. Dr Bloomfield. 

>> Thank you Prime Minister.

 Just a reminder it's mental awareness health week. Important thing to do amid the challenges and disruptions of COVID-19. A short check with someone can help others through our well-being.

 As we reported earlier 12 new cases of COVID- 19 in the community all in Auckland.

Today the seven-day rolling average of cases is 15 compared with 17 last week and 19 the week before that. Importantly, that drop has happened in alert level three.

And also pleasingly the number of active cases continues to decline. It's now 211 whilst the number of recovered cases has increased from 694 to 965 over the past week. We are making progress.

Many of our clusters are now considered to be contained, that is any new cases are among known contacts who are already isolating or clusters are dormant, that is, they have not given rise to any new cases in the last 14-days.

 There are now just four active sub clusters where there have been cases emerging in unknown contacts and public health are heavily focussed on containing those clusters. This resulted in a low rate of hospitalisation due to the young age profile of most of the cases.

However we have still had 112 hospitalised and 13 are still in hospital with four in ICU. COVID-19 is not a trivial disease.

 Testing remains essential to our outbreak and it's good to see the high numbers of tests continue each day. Our test positivity rate which the WHO recommendation should be under 5% has averaged 0.2% over the past seven-days. These are all encouraging signs, our response is working as intended, breaking chains of transmission and drawing a circle around the outbreak.

As I said, we are making progress. However, we do know that COVID-19 and particularly the Delta variant does pose a serious risk to New Zealand and other countries globally. Delta, in particular, as with earlier vaernts of virus increases mortality as age increases.

While that varies by country and healthcare system capacity around .2% of COVID-19 cases will die with the disease and nearly 6% around the globe have required hospital care. That is nearly double the risk of the Alpha variant and that is based on data from the recent Delta wave in the UK.

Then there are the long-term effects so-called long COVID which is estimated to occur in 2% of cases. There, of course, light at the end of the tunnel. The modelling produced by Professor Shaun Hendy and publicly communicated last week reinforced two important things.

The first is that the higher the vaccination rate the fewer the number of deaths and hospitalisation and secondly the higher that vaccination rates are the less other restrictions are needed to minimise the impact of COVID on people's lives and livelihoods. Internationally the evidence is clear, now from around the globe. That countries or indeed jurisdictions like states in the USA with high vaccination rates have fewer deaths and hospitalisations than those that don't period. The pathway forward for every country needs to be trod with care and thought. The WHO itself warns relax ing public health and social measures too soon puts unvaccinated and immuno compromised people at risk.

Since dropping most COVID restrictions in mid July the UK has been relying on vaccination to control the impact of COVID- 19. It's encouraging that hospitalisations and deaths have remained far lower than in previous waves thanks to good vaccination rates.

The message is clear, it is critical to achieve high vaccination rates. We have made a good start. Left's see it through.

Back to you Prime Minister.

>> Thank you Dr Bloomfield.

 Over the weekend you will have seen we reached another vaccine milestone with more than five million vaccinations administered. 1.8 million New Zealanders are fully vaccinated that represents 43% of our eligible population of our people aged 65 and over we have seen vaccination rates for first jabs at over 90% and in Auckland 82% of the eligible population have now had their first vaccine.

Now, that just shows what is possible in terms of reaching a large number of people. Now we need to keep going.

One reason for that is because it helps with the reduction in restrictions. Another is because it helps us change-up our border settings safely.

In early August we laid our plans for reconnecting New Zealanders to the world an event I know many of you were present at. This work was based on the advice of Professor David Skegg and his public health advisory team. As a result we designed a approach to revisit the border settings once most New Zealanders were vaccinated. We gave an estimate in the first-quarter of 2022. We had a work program that started this year. That included our self-isolation trial an alternative to MiQ where people can isolate in their own approved premises for 14-days.

Today cabinet made further decisions on this trial including the time frames. Further details will be released by the minister later this week, Minister Hipkins when the expressions of interest open.

Here are the broad terms.

The self-isolation pilot will be kept at 150 people and focuses on businesses and employees who are required to travel internationally for work purposes. There will be a small number of government official s but the vast majority will be from the private sector.

Those in the pilot must be New Zealand citizens and residents and they must be fully vaccinated. Those interested in applying will need to arrive in New Zealand from 30 October until 8 December. With final travellers leaving self- isolation by 22 December.

The reason we are focussed on work- related travel is because of the extra layer of protection of having an employer with some skin in the game provides. This will be coupled with a monitoring and testing regime.

Further details will be provided by Minister Hipkins on Wednesday. I should add it is not our intention that self- isolation only be available to business travellers in the future.

This now scope is for us to kick off safely while we begin the design work. I know our trial is similar in size to the trials that are just beginning in Australia. In terms of next steps. Expression s of interest will open on Thursday and will remain open until 9 October with successful advised on 15 October. No need to enter expression of interest now.

Minister Hipkins will set out all the details on Wednesday. Expressions of interest open on Thursday and will remain open until 9 October. Plenty of time for people to register their interest and we will give at that time details on where people can do so.

While this is a pilot it gives you a sense of of where we intend to go on our borders with a wider range of options for safe return to help ease pressure in our MiQ system in the future.

At the same time we're working on building greater evidence base for shorter period of isolation in the future as well. Our expectation further down the track it may not be necessary for everyone to have to isolate for a full 14-days.

All of this, as I say will make a difference to the bottlenecks that have been experienced with our very tight border requirements that have helped keep us safe and keep our domestic restrictions low for so long.

Further border reopening work I can today update you on quarantine-free travel for our  RSE workers ahead of what will be a busy summer harvest period for our agri sector. In September we announced one way quarantine Free travel with Samoa Tonga and Vanuatu will begin from October initially with  RSE work from those countrieses.

Today quarantine entry for  RSE workers can begin from 4 October to Vanuatu and 12 October for Samoa and Tonga. Those who are travelling must have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination before they arrive and will have their doses completed once they are in New Zealand if they have not already done so. They must isolate at their place of work on arrival. They must take a COVID test on day zero and day five. And remain in isolation and in their bubbles until they have a negative day five test. They will be doing that on site in their workplaces. We will keep a close eye on this. Our intention remains to broaden eligible for quarantine-free entry to New Zealand from these countries when we can be sure it is safe to do so.

Starting with  RSE workers enables us to trial what is a pseudo form of shortened isolation enabled - in order to ensure safer entry to New Zealand and access both of these workers and for employers. But the main driver of our recovery will ultimately be vaccination. Vaccination is our way forward. It's, as I have said the golden ticket to getting back to a life that is much freer from restrictions than we experience now.

The research tells us those who are hesitant to get immunised are most likely to listen to family, friends and medical professionals. So the best way to get vaccinations up so we can safely reopen our borders and enjoy life generally domestically is for each of us to check-in with family and friends and have a conversation around why you were vaccinated, how you felt afterwards and what it would mean for you if that person was vaccinated too. I have seen in Auckland an initiative that means a small sports club receives a small donation for a jab given a clear message a jab is not just good for you but good for our national pass times.

Everyone can be a vaccine influencer whether you have one or 100,000 followers. We can each help encourage one other person get vaccinated and every vaccine counts. Just like our hard work to stamp out COVID in the beginning and keep our economy open. Your vaccines helps us navigate the next steps, safe reopening, reconnection to the world and reconnection with one another.

Happy to take your questions. I will mix things up because I'm prone to habit. Hillary and Jenna and canvas from there.

>> A vaccine influencer...

>> Sorry.

>> You are a vaccine influencer.

>> Everyone can be.

>> You posted on Facebook side-effects.

>> Yeah.

>> Comments on people saying "my friend's father's grandfather"... Was that the right thing to do.

>> When research tells you one of the things stopping people from being vaccinated is their fear around side-effects we have the obligation to talk about those in the open. I'm willing to do that. We should all be willing to do that. At the same time I scroll through and saw some of the comments. And I do want to make sure we have a space where people can feel like they can have debate and conversation. Much of the - what might be the moderation around that doesn't necessarily come from us but comes from Facebook and some of those forums. I am willing to have the dialogue. I think it's better than ignoring the questions that people have when they are legitimate. I hope people allow the space for it to happen without crowding out legitimate conversation.

>> Yesterday some was low, yesterday was the worst day since July...

>> I wouldn't describe it in that way.

>> It's harder to get more of the first doses while second doses are coming in strongly. What is the government doing to impress that and can you give citizens assurety if they want to ban people in November and December who are not vaccinated they will be able to do that?

>> I will have a first cut at that question and then jump back down the back. There's always going to be a point in which your second doses particularly when you had a large increase in the number of people accessing their first at a particular time frame where your second doses will overtake. There was always going to be a point where we would have to start driving for those next first doses and the fact that we have gotten to 80% of eligible individuals in Auckland and now we're really have to drive those first doses is a good rate. We just need more. That's where we have to look at pulling every lever. Don't just stand up and say you have to get vaccinated. Let's ask questions and have places where they can do. If incentives help let's encourage providers to do that. This is where I say to businesses they have a role to play too. Some are stepping into the space and doing things in their workplaces and I encourage it because I see it's making a different difference. On vaccine certificates we're exploring it. We have seen good evidence around the world. It creates a safe environment for people to go. Ensures continuity for businesses and allows them to continue to operate and can make a difference for people going out and considered being vaccinated. We are considering it and consulting with those in the sector most affected by it.

>> (Inaudible) vaccine, we're not (inaudible).

>> Look, I don't think it's fair to say for those who had pre-sales you couldn't find a way to make it work. I think actually - it really will come down to...

>> (Inaudible) as an option.

>> We said it's certainly amongst our tool kit that we believe should properly be explored and we will be talking to the sector about it.

>> Particularly the summer festivals are looking for a vaccine certificate.

>> Decisions will be made well in time before those summer festivals will need to have those decisions and that is very much on our minds.

>> Do you imagine that people will need a vaccine passport...

>> I think the most important thing for people who want to be participate -- to participate in events like that what can you do to make sure no matter what these can go ahead. I think that want has to explore these. There is a way we can give greater certainty. I would rather that than the potential of something being called off last-minute.

>> Do you think using that step approach alongside an incentive approach is a good idea?

>> I consider the consideration of things like vaccine certificates I see that as care. This is a way we can give you safety and security to attend an event knowing that those around you that are bit safer because of the vaccine and also more likely to see that event go ahead without disruption. I see that as an incentive and one we are going to go out and talk to the industry about and make decisions about summer festivals. Do you want to give your views on those tools?

>> I think what we're trying to do and it goes back to the comments I made and the PM made these, high vaccination rates will be what will allow us to contemplate and safely undertake large events. And I think it's reasonable to consider whether or not the people attending those events to help provide certainty for planning and for others who want to participate in those events and make the arrangements that the event will be safe. And it's quite clear that vaccination does create that opportunity, not just to run a safe event but to plan a safe event.

>> We've been working on this for a while. We need to have some good legal advice around what we can do. We also need to make sure we have the ability to run a system using, you know, both digital technology but also make it accessible. And remove some of those barriers to be able to - if you're not using a Smartphone demonstrate you have a certificate. There's a lot of work that's had to be done. We're in the position with we're confident we can go out and consult on the sector.

>> Would Delta make you reconsider making the vaccine mandatory?

>> No, no. It is not. It is a considerable step to require someone to be vaccinated and so we've long said that a blanket compulsion for people is not something that we have considered. We believe that we can talk about the vaccine on its merits, the difference that it makes to people's lives, their health their livelihood without taking that extraordinary step.

>> Sorry, we were told that there's a pause on processing (inaudible)...

>> Sorry?

>> People have told us there's a pause on all processing of all MiQ exemptions until tomorrow. Why is that?

>> Not something I'm familiar with. Happy to give you a response...

>> I can shed light on that. You will recall on Friday the deputy Prime Minister said cabinet would today be having a discussion around possibly extending the range of reasons why people could leave Auckland. 

>> You said "MiQ" though didn't you?

>> Yeah.

>> Sorry. Sorry, I'm answered you meant not the question you asked. The Prime Minister does not about it. The Prime Minister has - anyway our team over the weekend decided not to process though exemptions coming through because cabinet was considering the matter today.

>> I can shed light on that. For give me. Nothing is currently going on with the MiQ regime. With borders you will know there will be some individuals who have been in Auckland for some time who may be relocating house for instance need to permanently return home outside after an Auckland environment and there are a few other circumstances where there is that real genuine need to move permanently outside of Auckland. So, cabinet made decisions today. Orders need to be drafted. We will make announcements on that tomorrow and give people certain tip within the next 24-hours.

>> Why has it taken 18 months to trial isolating at home?

>> You will have seen from the rigorous MiQ regime that we have been working to date that it has been the frontline. There has been no room for error with this virus and so it has been very tightly run. The only reason that we are running this self-isolation pilot now is in preparation for a highly vaccinated population. So, that's why it's been done on a small scale. We are still vaccinating, but the intention is in the first-quarter of 2022 when more New Zealanders are vaccinated it will be safer to run self-isolation at home.

>> Prime Minister:

>> And following the:

>> Yes.

>> Thank you. Following the police custody COVID case what are you doing to stamp out chains of transmission amongst, sorry, marginalised groups?

>> I have seen the comments of Professor Baker in it the media. Both on this issue and also door-to- door testing. Actually, what he suggested we've been doing both for some time. You can understand our biggest priority right now is public health. We want to know where cases and contacts might be. This is not about pursuing criminal cases or criminal convictions. And so it's a very different approach here. Where we work really closely with those individuals who have COVID just to find out where they have been, who they have been with and to make sure it's all about public health. So, those concerns that people may not engage with us for other reasons we've had to work through that because our focus has to be public health and ending the tale of transmission. I say the same on door-to-door testing. I know it's been raced. We have been doing door-to-door testing in those areas where we had outbreaks.

>> Just on the door-to-door testing. How many streets - it was raised today how many streets and people have been visit recent by by those mobile testing unites and -- units and how many people have agreed to be tested.

>> I know door-to-door two suburbs where we had particular outbreaks. I couldn't give you a number of streets.

>> That's right. I could come back to you on the number of streets. There was certainly work done in Clover Park last week as part of - complimentary to the wider testing that was happening there. I know there's another team that's gone out into another suburb today to test some streets where there have been some cases located. That is complimentary to the broader testing that's available through community testing pop- up.

>> These have been in some areas where we can't rule out transmission from limited company from people possibly passing each other in their neighbourhoods, possibly children being in contact with one another. Very hard to determine which is why we targeted those geographical areas and gone door-to-door.

>> Do you have any information about compliance of people to be tested when there's health... 

>> We would have heard if there was a problem. If you look in the suburbs like Clover Park since 1 September a quarter of the residents that have been tested. We have seen a great response. I think the team is finding high levels of acceptance of the test.

>> Another question for you Dr Bloomfield what's being done to remedy the shortage of ICU nurses in New Zealand?

>> There are two aspects one is growing our nursing pool per se. We year on increases in our nursing pool including through - as part of the accord that was signed up two three years ago and the extra funding that went into that but in particular ICU nurses awe know is a specialised role. One of the things we've been doing is requiring each district health board to train non-ICU nurses in the care of a ventilated patient so there is a pool of people they can draw on should there be a need to surge capacity to ventilate more patients if we had a large outbreak. But the training of ICU nurses of course does take some years and all district health boards are focussed on doing that as part of their workforce planning.

>> Clare and then Sam.

>> Taylor has put a letter in the 'Herald' about the self-isolation trial coming back, you proposing to take a trip to Sydney with extensive testing and locations and drivers and all that kind of stuff and wants to know why there isn't more coordination of businesses which can offer technology and things like rapid antigen testing being developed in New Zealand?

>> Professor David Murdoch is leading a piece of work currently around the use of wider surveillance testing options and how to integrate them into our existing testing regime to over come of the issues that have been raised around a few - if you use antigen testing in a regular way the fact that it might not be as beneficial as other alternatives. He's doing that. The that will help us as we look to integrate antigen pest testing in border regime and surveillance testing in the workplaces. We are using and proposing to use antigen testing as part of the border work. The pilot does talk about the potential of antigen testing and it's being used as well at present for regular testing of health staff. For the proposals generally I know some ministers have discussed with Taylor some of his proposals. It sounds like he will be a perfect candidate for our self-isolation pilot. I'm not part of that selection process but I would hope that he would be part of the expression of interest for that. 

>> Dr Bloomfield there seems to have been a steady up take in the percentage of cases with exposure events, sort of around 25% of the early part of this month and gone up to 50% makes sense to level three in Auckland. What level of risk attaches to that even with masks and physical distancing and what can be done to mitigate against that?


>> One of the comments I would look at if you make the exposure events, even if they're a contact once they have been made aware of a contact. Those exposure events are the things you would expect people to be doing going to a supermarket laundromat and pharmacy and for some their workplace but I think most of that is to do with the effect that Auckland is alert level three and people, as we saw on weekend are out and about more. 

>> Not the compliance now, the risks that are attached. People may not know they're infectious or tested positive. They're still out and about. Does that increase the probability at all of community transmission?

>> Not in and of itself. It depends on the nature of the exposure events and anywhere there's - the public may have been at. Are notified as locations of interest. But of course Auckland is in alert level three still and that has still designed to restrict movement and people need to keep it in mind.

>> Most of those, you will see them in alert level environment click and collect, mask, use, social distancing, all really help. And even in - you know, where we've had the detailed breakdown of what's happened in workplaces we haven't had large-scale - large-scale issues within those essential workplaces. We have had cases where there have been contacts where there is transmission in a workplace. One of the issues is still whether or not people maintain their bubbles because if you're not maintaining a bubble it's more likely because you are making contact with secondary household members. They might be considered to be part of your household even if they don't reside with you. That's where we've often seen some transmission albeit limited. I did say Thomas and then Michael.

>> On the way applications close Thursday that might (inaudible) you have signalled applications for another round would reopen on Friday. Obviously you wouldn't would (inaudible)...

>> It's all linked to alert levels. So no need to read into anything. 

>> (Inaudible) Monday.

>> It's all alert level linked.

>> Last week Michael Bates suggested if this current outbreak isn't contained by the level three restrictions the embers could flow to until Christmas. What does that make you think about travel from Auckland to the rest of the country for families over the Christmas period?

>> For obvious reasons as we have all the way through continuing to work hard to make sure that you have - that we have a situation where we have a contained outbreak, where we don't have wide-spread community transmission where we continually work to stamp it out. Whilst at the same time, looking to see how we can ease restrictions in a way that allows us to maintain that goal and so that's been our strategy and that's what we're continuing to work to. Of course, you will understand why I'm very focussed on an approach that allows us to do all of that whilst allowing families to reconnect as well. That's key. So for me it's not just about Christmas it's about reconnecting families.

>> In that vein...

>> Michael is waiting. I will come to you Jenna. Michael.

>> Thanks. (Inaudible) on the number of people (inaudible) Afghanistan at the moment and who these people are that - are they residents or...

>> Yeah:

>> (Inaudible) back to New Zealand. 

>> I have asked officials over the course of this week, now that we've had enough to process those who have returned, to assist those visas that have been approved, but where people may not have been able to return and to ascertain as best we're able who currently holds a visa, who may be in Afghanistan and that's been quite a difficult thing. We're trying to finalise those numbers as best available and share those if we can publicly this week and then share the next step how we assist those individuals. There is what I consider a large number who are not in country yet. I'm hoping with the scope of people's privacy to give more of an insight in who has been able to return with a bit more detail. 

>> Jenna and then I will come across.

>> As a follow up, do you envisage Kiwis having a classic Kiwi summer this year?

>> Yes. You know - yes. There are some things we might have to do to make sure that that can happen. You know, you may see requirements around vaccine certificates so that things can continue to go ahead as we usually experience over a summer period safely. But yes, I can see us experiencing that. We did last summer. And I hope we will be able to again.

>> Dr Bloomfield were are the 300 police officers manning Auckland border checkpoints not required to be tested or vaccinated and is that possible?

>> What I can say is many of them are. Secondly they use very rigorous infection prevention control procedures and use of PPE. So I know that all the processes they have in place will be keeping them and others safe.

>> They use N-95 masks as I recall as well. Whilst we haven't mandated vaccines there with those frontline workers we do have good up take and they have had their rollout under way for some time.

>> Would you consider including them in the border testing - sorry, the boundary testing rooimts?

>> Not at this point because they're not - as far as I'm aware, crossing the boundary, but that's something that I'm happy to have a conversation with the police commissioner about.

>> Prime Minister:

>> Yeah.

>> Vaccinations are almost the entire ball game at the moment. You have the government aspiration of 90% or more for not just the whole population but a whole lot of minority groups that might be more vulnerable. When you talk about how to get there we haven't seen a strategy. You have talked about...

>> I disagree. 

>> I will give you a chance:

>> Sure.

>> You also said it's up to the community and seeing their solutions and stuff. Can you give an aturns that will get us there?

>> Over the past few days, Dr Bloomfield and I have been on a number of virtual meetings where we've - we have sat down with those providers and some of our DHBs to talk about the initiative they're using. You will see at the moment - this has always been part of the plan transition from providing fixed base sites. So people know where to go. It's a matter of them accessing a site in order to easily be vaccinated whether it's walk in, drive-in or through a booking. We have seen the bulk of our vaccines delivered in that way. Then you get to the point where you are having 80% and then it's an extra push. That's where it's about working alongside with the providers locally to make sure they have the support to be able to design solutions that work for them. A mobile bus doesn't work in - it has more isolated communities and it doesn't have necessarily the roading that supports a focus like that. They do need mobility and they need to be able to have the local workforce rolling out those vaccines. The same I would say across lakes, Bay of Plenty. A number of different areas are tailoring their response to what their community needs are and that includes if they are using incentives. So that's why we've talked about community solutions. That's not because we don't have a responsibility, we do. We need to support them. We need to make sure that they have the funding they had need to roll them out. We also need to allow invasion to come from within the community. That's where -- innovation to come from within community. That's where we're see great stuff.

>> You are following a different path to Australia on the pathway to reopening. Australia has put out road maps and trigger points and targets. Do you think when you get closer to the finish line you will do something like that.

>> Slightly - slightly different places at the moment as well. In part it's because of the differences in where our outbreaks currently are. Our easing of restrictions hasn't been strictly based on vaccine levels in Auckland and so - because just of the status of our outbreak. That's one of the reasons why we've got, I think a different set of circumstances. Highlight again, we said last week that we are working on a framework that incorporates the impact of vaccines in the way we do things. That's part of the consultation we're going out for some sectors where it's most likely to have impact. That's work that is well in train whilst of course we work through restrictions in Auckland.

>> It's unlikely to - you are not likely to do that?

>> Not likely...

>> The roadmap, here it is times, dates.

>> Slightly different because theirs is to get out of restrictions. We're using on our framework which isn't reliant on vaccines. If you don't mind I will pan across here.

>> On Friday the local Times reported the Chinese authorities (inaudible)...

>> Yeah.

>> What advice have you received about that? What do you make of that? Seems unlikely it originated from here. What's the story?

>> My understanding this relates to a shipment that departed New Zealand after - sorry, before our outbreak. So, I thought that was a relevant piece of information on the timing. Secondly...

>> Before our outbreak was discovered.

>> Yes, before our outbreak was discovered. Essentially it took a month for that shipment to be transferred. So, there was no suggestion that there would be any necessary connection with the outbreak we had. So, that was the first piece of information. That is indeed a few words -- indeed if you would suggest you had Delta for a month long trip in a nonfrozen environment. The second relevant piece of information it was picked up at market rather than within storage. So, that also seems to be relevant information. So, we are working very closely to convey and to provide all of the assurances around the way that our producers operate which is a very safe environment. I visited some of these processing and pack houses. They are very, very stringent. But also all the timing issues.

>> Is there a sense in which there could be another reason behind this... 

>> No, I don't get that feeling. There's been a fairly consistent approach to - from Chinese customs officials around ensuring the on going safety of imported products. So, no, no suggestion of that and I received no advice to suggest that either.

>> Just quickly on some issue of health that might be for you Dr Bloomfield just 705 tests were taken across the half dozen suburbs of interest in Auckland yesterday. Is this a high enough on going rate to rule out there isn't transmission that's out there that could be being picked up? 

>> The important thing is to look at it over Sundays. My recollection is that the average Auckland-wide daily testing rates are around 8,000 - 8,500 over the last seven- days. Yes we always get a dip on Sunday. The weather was nice in Auckland over the weekend as well. Those suburbs of interest have still got testing happening there. There will be an invitation for people on going to - and just give it another plug. Symptoms or not go and get a test.

>> My recollection one of the suburbs of interest over a two day period we tested 10% of the population. We want to keep going in those suburbs of interest. We might give another update in the suburbs of interest. A bit of work going around to can advance whether or not which we maintain or we might add. Stay tuned.

>> Prime Minister is it still correct to all the outbreak describing it as having a tail, because we're still looking at an average of 17 over the last seven-days and (inaudible) tapering to nothing. 

>> Tls it's very long. Fair question. We were we remitting on this today. Dr Bloomfield. 

>> The last average was down from 15, from 17 the week before and 19 the week before. We have nice modelling there is the tail of the original outbreak but then over the last two or three weeks in a way another group of sub clusters that has developed. They're the active sub clusters which are trickling along at a higher rate than the tail of the outbreak. The modelling showed us they have two different R values. The R value for the original outbreak is way below one and tapering off the R value for our current O group of current active sub clusters is around one. It's controlled. It's almost on its own parallel - separate but parallel tra jek trip. That's where all the effort is focussed.

>> Would you need the sub clusters that are a one to be down below one before you can go down to level two...

>> Two things there. First of all because they are - they still have households with - they're quite large households. There are still cases we expect to come through. I was looking at the numbers today somewhere between 45 and 50 cases still expected from even - even the cases in had the sub clusters now. Secondly it will be the extent to which we feel they are controlled. These are clusters where there are - you know, there is a lot of work going in. To engage and that's been very good, to get the testing rates up and that's been very good. So, it's more about the control of those sub clusters and yes we're confident at the moment eventually we will get them controlled and so see the tail. 

>> Eventually does that mean though they won't be controlled in time for the next Monday decision about Auckland going to two?

>> Let's see. You know, actually, as I said, the average number of cases is coming down even with these active sub clusters. That's a good sign.

>> Another one for Dr Bloomfield, what is the level of vaccination rate where you would be comfortable that our ICUs and our health system could handle any inevitable outbreaks once we open up?

>> It's not so much the level of - the vaccination rate, but obviously as I have said before and I will say it again, northwards of 90%. It's about the other measures that we will have to have in place to protect people. And the best way to protect people is stop - vaccinated or not is stop them getting COVID in the first instance. It's not just vaccination at a certain level and nothing. It will be making sure we have the right balance of measures that actually - and the key thing here is we want to ensure our health system can keep delivering the full range of care people need for nonrelated COVID conditions. Every time pressure goes on it can't do that. It's vaccination and other measures. It's the extend extent to which those other measures will be more or less restrictive.

>> To cover the question on the Australia flights. Do you know how many came back on the Melbourne flight yesterday and do you know how many from Australia are wanting to come back on flights and do you know how many we will run in October?

>> For give me I don't. If we can take that question away. That's usually information the team can get to us quickly. I'm happy to provide it. I will go Henry and then finish with Thomas.

>> You won't mandate vaccinations, I understand why. 

>> Yep.

>> What are your other options, at least to give other guidance or regulator Legislation late to allow employers in particular to understand the -- legislate to allow employers in particular to understand the:

>> We have produced guidance around this already. You will for give me for not speaking in great detail. We've been mindful of the need to provide the guidance to see how they can manage with health and safety framework both with their existing staff but also circumstances when they are employing people around what they are able to do within the law. Then there are things we can do as an employer. And so you have seen what we have done on our border workers. The mandated port worker requirement comes in at the end of the month. You will see we have done work currently under way around the health sector workforce. We believe we have a duty of care to take the next step. We have done that. Then there's the extra incentives and disincentives around access to different parts of life. There are some areas where it will be a no go because we need to make sure people regardless are able to access essential services. That's the next phase for us in what we're exploring. 

>> Would you consider putting a blanket across public sector and saying public sector employees need to have vaccination.

>> There has been guidance on the Public Service Commission on this. But there hasn't been blanket requirements. I said Henry and finish with tomorrow.

>> Prime Minister on (inaudible) various providers being able to (inaudible)

>> Yep.

>> This say problem that nationally (inaudible) about a million people who engage public life in the same way as the rest of the country do. Does (inaudible) door-to-door across the entire country. It's really expensive.

>> Yep.

>> How close are you adding to some kind of national door-to-door...

>> Door-to-door is part of the map. 

>> (Inaudible) would you like to...

>> Door-to-door is part of the map. We have what we would describe as mish block data that enables us to see within suburbs areas with low vaccination rates. That's being used by the providers to determine where they need targeted vaccination regimes where we're much more mobile. The buses have been part of that. The only issue has been how to do that safely in a level three environment. Absolutely door-to-door is an option and it is being utilised and will be utilised. The second thing that's been utilised more is you will see more hybrid testing and vaccination stations. Previously there's been hesitance around how to establish those safely. That's been worked through and now is available as I understand in Auckland.

>> This afternoon.

>> (Inaudible) requiring vaccination for people - workers who (inaudible) under level three that (inaudible) reasonably large group of people who travel between truckers and whatnot. Would you require vaccination then or... 

>> We have been working with the freight companies to provide work-based placed vaccination. We haven't mandated but we have the testing requirement. You can see we're taking the step to add the safety. That's not a step we're taken at that stage.  

>> Would that be seen too much as (inaudible).

>> It's not something that - no, we're trying to make sure we encourage those who in all walks of life whether or not they're in freight Industry or hospitality industry where they have interactions with other people could be vaccinated for their own safety. We haven't gone down the track of being sector specific.

>> What about hospitality and allowing (inaudible).

>> Sorry.

>> Hospitality being used maybe saying you can only open under level two...

>> As I said.

>> (Inaudible).

>> As I said, the use of vaccine certificates is something we will openly be talking to different sectors about. They will have a range of views and we want to canvas those. But where it's - you know where it's very clear there's some real value after those large-scale events but we're open to discussing the use in other sectors as well. We want to hear from those business operators. They said it before. I will finish down the back Clare and Thomas you will still be my last.

>> Your Facebook Live stream has been bombarded with messages and comments from anti-vaxers.

>>S that's not knew.

>> Do you have any:

>> I am obviously not currently stopping it. I am obviously here. I am not controlling my Facebook Live. There are some things that automatically are part of Facebook's measures around COVID-19 Miss Information. So - - misinformation so much as I understand is automated and not necessarily us. I see this as part of the territory right now. As the vaccination rollout ramps up yes I see more across the board on social media not just my channels. I see it in live streams. I see it. In my mind it is often quite targeted and organised and it's not representative of the vast majority of New Zealanders because the vast majority of New Zealanders have chosen to be vaccinated. Thomas.

>> Dr Bloomfield you mentioned before you were doing (inaudible) for clusters and sub clusters. How long have you been giving that data for?

>> I don't do them. Our colleagues up in Auckland is doing modelling looking at hopisations cases and doing some clever modelling things. As they do. And actually this is the first time that I - actually I got a copy on the weekend where he had done an estimated R value for the main outbreak and then done a supplementary one for these clusters. I have offered that information up today.

>> That's prior to the (inaudible) last week the first time buff you've been able to do clusters and sub clusters.

>> Going back to the comment I made last week. When the numbers are small it's harder to model. He's using a whole lot of different data points including hospitalisations. In the one of the comments he's made in the modelling if you look at the number of hospitalisations which continue to decline or not go up it suggests there's not a large pool of cases out there which is reassuring that we're not aware of. It's just one of the pieces of information we take into account, but I think the key point here is there are these sort of two separate things happening and all our focus is on that group of active sub clusters which I talked at the start.

>> Roughly one at the moment?

>> Yes, roughly one at the moment. That includes many of those cases that are rising which are people who are already, in fact, today, all of the cases were either in isolation somewhere, at home or in managed isolation.

>> The moelding is hard with an outbreak of this size. Modelling is difficult generally in COVID which is why it comes with so many

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