Covid 19 coronavirus: Will Auckland stay at level 3 after new Covid cases? Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to announce decision

The Prime Minister is set to announce Cabinet’s decision about Auckland’s level 3 lockdown.

Jacinda Ardern will appear at the press conference in the Beehive at 4.30pm alongside director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

The announcement comes after two new Covid-19 cases were found in the community and announced today.

One of the new cases confirmed this afternoon was a close contact of case A – the daughter who was confirmed Covid-19 positive with her father and mother on Sunday. They went to Papatoetoe High School together. The second new confirmed case is a sibling of the first.

The source of the family’s infection is still a mystery.

Health officials have been racing to trace the contacts of the two students. Interviews were continuing with the latest infected pupils, the Ministry said in its Covid update at 1pm.

ESR testing of wastewater has so far found “no evidence of any community cases of Covid-19”, the Ministry of Health said.

Case investigation and contact tracing for the latest cases were under way.

As at 11.30am, 31 close contacts and 1523 casual plus contacts had been identified at Papatoetoe High School.

Contact tracing had identified 128 close contacts associated with the original family at the centre of the Covid outbreak. Of these, one had tested positive (one of today’s new cases), 76 had tested negative, and 49 results were still being analysed.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins compared the new cases with the Northland community case in January.

“We have managed cases like this before, that have popped up in the community, without having to change alert levels,” he told media.

Hipkins added that Cabinet will be looking “very closely” at if there is anything additional that needed to be factored into the decision.

Cabinet was scheduled to meet from 3pm to determine the fate of Auckland’s level-3 lockdown and the rest of New Zealand’s alert-level 2.

The alert levels are due to expire at 11.59pm tonight – after two days of zero community cases, the two cases announced today will be weighing on ministers’ minds.

Speaking to reporters before going into the House, Ardern said a major element of what Cabinet will be considering is the fact one of the contacts was considered “close”.

“Obviously, then it’s not surprising to us if we get a positive test result – those are individuals we have asked to isolate.”

The sibling who also tested positive was already in self-isolation when they tested positive.

National leader Judith Collins said that whether or not the alert level settings are extended is a “call for the Government”.

“We’re all very disappointed to hear that there are two more community cases.”

She pointed out that there is still a lot more testing to come back but National was going to “wait and see what the Government comes up with”.

Auckland was moved to alert level 3 at midnight on Sunday after three new Covid-19 cases were detected in the community. The rest of the country was put in alert level 2.

Until this morning, there had been no additional community cases detected, which had been “heartening” for Ardern and Hipkins.

But speaking to the Health Select Committee this morning, Hipkins revealed health officials had found two new cases after mass testing.

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