Covid 19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: Cases in Wellington, North Shore Hospital patient infected, contacts to balloon into thousands

COVID LATEST
* Covid-19 has been detected in Wellington
* 22 cases, more than 120 locations of interest (full list below) – and a decision today on whether the nationwide lockdown continues
* Massive loophole: Locals worried as Aucklanders try to book holiday homes in lockdown
* Lockdown Read: Inside the weekend Delta came to town
* Unpicking the cluster – The school family, the teacher, the tradie flatmate and their pals
* Auckland economy losing $100m a day during lockdown, says council
* Matthew Hooton: NZ health system can’t look past lockdown
* Liam Dann: Why NZ economy can survive a lengthy lockdown

The Herald understands there are now at least 30 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with more possibly to be revealed this afternoon, including at least two confirmed cases in Wellington.

In Auckland, thousands of secondary school pupils, their families and staff are now under isolation orders after more Covid cases among teenagers emerged overnight with the cluster swelling to at least 22.

It is unclear at this stage how many although the Herald understands there are two confirmed cases in Miramar.

The Capital and Coast District Health Board has referred any questions about the potential Wellington cases to the Ministry of Health, which is due to provide an update at 1pm.

Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said the council was speaking with regional public health officials. The council was seeking more information, he said.

More than 1000people got a Covid-19 test in the Wellington region on the first day of lockdown on Wednesday.

The health board said 827 people were tested in Wellington with a further 186 in the Hutt Valley, amounting to a total of 1013.

With Cabinet meeting in Wellington today to decide on whether to continue the alert level 4 national lockdown outside Auckland and Coromandel, Lynfield and Northcote Colleges joined Avondale College with confirmed infections among its communities.

Families are now descending on testing stations across Auckland as queues, which started forming in some parts at 1.30am, stretch for kilometres.

It comes as North Shore Hospital confirmed a patient in the hospital with an unrelated condition earlier in the week had tested positive and is now in Waitakere Hospital.

It’s also emerged a temporary postal worker, who worked at Auckland’s operations centre in Highbrook, has also tested positive after being at work on Monday.

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A reporter on TV1’s Breakfast programme at the Northcote testing station said she had spoken to at least one person who had been there since 1.30am.

Another person waiting in line said security staff were turning people away who were arriving too early. They were told to come back around 5.30am.

This morning Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall appealed for only those that needed to be swabbed to line up at testing centres.

“We want those testing resources for people who are contacts, who have symptoms or at locations of interest.If you’re not in one of those categories you don’t need to be in the queue.”

There are now 148 visits to 123 exposure sites that include large Auckland malls, the casino, schools, churches, playgrounds, shops, night clubs and eateries.

One modeller puts the number of cases reaching 100 in coming days given several superspreader events that took place at the weekend.

Northcote College principal Vicki Barrie last night issued a message to pupils and staff alerting them of the case.

She said the pupil was infectious when at school on Monday and Tuesday this week.

“This evening the school has contacted all students and staff, as they are now considered to be ‘close contacts’ and must isolate at home for 14 days,” Barrie said.

“Our thoughts are with the student and their family.”

The priority was for all students and staff to get tested.

“We understand how worried people in our school community will be. The best thing we can all do is get tested quickly,” she said.

Dedicated testing station for Avondale College

Meanwhile a dedicated Covid testing station is now open for pupils, their families and staff of Avondale College at the nearby Avondale Racecourse.

It follows a staff member having a confirmed case of Covid-19 and another family connected to the school also being infected with the virus.

All staff and students at the school have been ordered to stay home and self-isolate for 14 days and get tested.

This morning epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker sounded a warning that more cases would keep surfacing.

“We know that infected people went to a whole lot of indoor environments with very high risk – not just schools but also churches, nightclubs, bars, restaurants – so expect to see quite a few more cases in the next couple of days. That’s inevitable.”

He appealed for parents to discuss the situation with their teenage and young adult children, saying it was critical for young peopleto modify their social behaviour in order to get on top of the growing outbreak.

“One of the key things is all of us with teenage children and have young adults in our families is to explain to them why they are part of this outbreak, why it really matters that they change their behaviour forthe next two or three or four weeks because that’s how we’re going to get it under control,” he said.

In the most recent cases to emerge this morning the associate health minister said she was contacted at 2am about the case.

Verrall confirmed a young man in his 20s had tested positive and parts of North Shore Hospital were affected.

The hospital’s Emergency Department and Short Stay Surgical Unit were now closed to new admissions.

Diversions to other hospital emergency departments were now in place as health officials contacted staff and patients who might have been exposed to the virus.

Staff would be stood down and advised to follow public health advice and potentially exposed current patients would be notified and isolated as well as tested in the hospital.

Patients already discharged would be followed-up by public health officials.

The affected parts of the hospital will be deep cleaned today and then reopened as soon as it is safe to do so.

The DHB would be working today to confirm the number of staff and patients affected.

A second new case, a temp worker at New Zealand Post’s Auckland Operations Centre in Highbrook, returned a positive test after falling ill.They worked on Monday afternoon, said NZ Post chief operating officer Brendon Main.

Security footage was now being used to identify others who may have come in contact with the person.

As a result there would also be a delay in parcel deliveries, said Main.

SkyCity chief executive Michael Ahearne said this morning they had been busy getting in touch with all staff members who workedat the casino at the same time a positive case visited over the weekend.

“The period in question was Saturday morning … and approximately 1000 customers were in that area,” he said.

The process underway included giving “detailed information” to public health officials along with CCTV footage.

Canterbury University Professor Michael Plank told RNZ it was “good news” that a link had been established between the community cases and a returned traveller in MIQ.

This potentially narrowed the timespan for infection.

Modelling suggested that New Zealand could see case numbers in the 30s and 40s.

However there was potential for several superspreader events that took place at the weekend.

“We could still see 100 cases filtering in over the next few days.”

Plank said it was too early to consider lowering alert levels outside Auckland and Coromandel.

He noted that a lot of people had visited Auckland at the weekend and on Monday and Tuesday. If they were exposed to the virus they would still be in the incubation period.

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