Sunday, 19 Sep 2021

Covid 19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: Wellington cases ‘reassuring’

The Ministry of Health has announced two more cases of Covid-19 in the community in Wellington, bringing the total number in the capital to eight.

There is one new location of interest in Wellington – the Mobil petrol station in Johnsonville on Tuesday, August 17, between 8,20pm and 8.35pm.

Overall, there were 35 new cases of Covid-19 announced today. The number of cases in the Delta outbreak now sits at 107.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced this afternoon the country will remain at alert level 4 until 11.59pm on Friday, August 27. Auckland will remain in alert level 4 until 11.59pm on Tuesday, August 31.

Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said the new cases in Wellington were connected with and were close contacts of known cases.

He said all but one had been in isolation throughout their infectious period.

“The picture in Wellington is reassuring at the moment, but obviously we continue to watch closely.

“These next three to four days will really give us an indication of, in Wellington and Coromandel in particular, whether there is any ongoing transmission or whether our ongoing transmission is really confined to Auckland.”

Wellington mayor Andy Foster said he was also somewhat reassured.

“We’ve only had two more cases in Wellington and the cases are close or household contacts rather than wider community transmission cases.”

More wastewater samples are being collected today from sites across New Zealand.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Health reported Covid-19 had continued to be detected at Moa Point in Wellington.

However, samples taken from Porirua, Seaview and Karori were all negative.

Foster confirmed he got his first shot of the Pfizer vaccine a week or so before the recent lockdown.

Alert level 4 was first announced right in the middle of Visa Wellington On a Plate.

Festival director Sarah Meikle said this afternoon they had expected alert level 4 to be extended and had planned for that.

But it was still disappointing for restaurants, she said.

“Our worst fears have been realised, but at the same time they are very eager and keen to get back up and running as soon as they can.

“We need to be ready to basically pivot on a dime and that’s what we’re doing.”

Meikle confirmed the festival would re-start in alert level 2.

She indicated a plan was also in place for alert level 3 with more details to be revealed soon.

Foster said every day businesses were closed hurt.

“Obviously there will be many businesses who are still suffering from the effects of lockdown and other restrictions during the last 18 months.

“The sooner that we are able to get businesses back and opening, and we as Wellingtonians are able to get back supporting those businesses, the better.”

Joint head of managed isolation and quarantine, Brigadier Rose King, told the Herald the Grand Mercure in Wellington had now been designated as a quarantine facility only.

Previously it was being used as a dual facility, meaning it had both managed isolation facilities and one wing of eight quarantine rooms.

“Due to the current outbreak, a decision has been made to designate it entirely as a quarantine facility.

“This has recently increased the total quarantine capacity in Wellington from eight to 38 rooms.”

King said further work was under way to increase the number of quarantine rooms available at the Grand Mercure, while ensuring strict infection prevention control protocols could be provided.

Wellington’s other MIQ facility, the Bay Plaza, was empty and awaiting its next cohort of returnees, King said.

But the facility would now be used to accommodate close contacts of community cases if needed.

More than 3850 tests were processed yesterday in Wellington and the Hutt Valley. At the weekend, 11 community testing centres were operating, as well as about 32 GPs.

There are five vaccination centres in Lower Hutt. They are on High St, in Epuni, Wainuiomata, Boulcott and Waiwhetuū.

More than 300 vaccinations were performed in Waiwhetū yesterday alone.

The Hutt City Council said it was working to fix a pothole that was limiting traffic at one of the sites, which should be completed by the end of the day.

The Capital and Coast DHB said it was working to increase its vaccination capacity with extended days and hours.

At Sunday’s 1pm press conference, Bloomfield said several new cases of Covid-19were linked to a service at the Samoan Assembly of God church in Māngere on August 15. This was emerging as a cluster within the outbreak, he said.

A number of the new cases announced today were also associated with the church service, he said.

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