“People should not be blamed for Covid-19,’ says Minister Hipkins

Auckland remains at Alert Level One; CBD opens

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Wellington, November 13, 2020

(Screenshot)

There have been no additional community cases linked to the latest Auckland case, which has now been directly connected to the Defence Force cluster.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Director of Public Health Dr Caroline McElnay provided an update this afternoon.

Mr Hipkins said that the Auckland case reported yesterday (Thursday) has a direct genomic link to a Defence Force worker at the Jet Park Hotel, but they are yet to find the point of history between them, such as a meeting, or whether they were at the same time and place, so those inquiries were ongoing.

He said that the link meant it was less likely it was another border breach.

Dr McElnay said that the timing and incubation period fit with a straight transmission.

Where masks are mandatory

The Auckland student’s three close contacts have all tested negative for Covid-19.

Hipkins said Auckland remains at alert level 1 and the CBD can reopen, but that the government would be wearing masks on public transport in the Auckland region and on flights mandatory on an “ongoing basis.”

He said that he would take an order to Cabinet on Monday to do this. It may also become mandatory to do scanning at places where a lot of people gather, such as large public events.

(Auckland CBD (RNZ Picture)

For new cases

McElnay said there were four new cases today, one in managed isolation and three historical cases.

The Health Ministry has directed all people who attended locations of interest in Auckland at key times to get tested for Covid-19, regardless of whether they have symptoms.

Four additional testing stations are now open in Auckland. All locations and times of interest are on the MOH website.

There were 7267 tests completed yesterday (Thursday).

Dr McElnay urged people to use the QR codes wherever they see them, as it made it much easier to contact people if they visit a location of interest also visited by a positive case.

Chart for RNZ by Vinod Ranchhod

The Auckland case

The Auckland case reported yesterday is a student and retail worker who lives next to the Grand Millennium managed isolation hotel.

She works at A-Z Collection in the City Centre and went to work on 11 November while symptomatic after a conversation with her manager.

People who work in Auckland CBD were asked to from home today.

Mr Hipkins said the latest cases were now feeling the weight of the entire country on their shoulders.

“They do not deserve to have blame heaped upon them.”

Give them space, he urged, or the pressure may affect their recall of events. It was the virus that was the problem, not the people, he said.

He also said New Zealand’s border workers were among the most scrutinised and most tested people in the country. They were doing a fantastic job and deserved our gratitude, he said.

“The country is at the level of risk where it was necessary to change levels,” Mr Hipkins said.

Published under a Special Agreement with www.rnz.co.nz

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