Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Two new Auckland cases test positive for Covid-19 South African variant

The two new cases of Covid-19 identified in the Auckland community last night are the South African variant which is more infectious.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said preliminary genomic sequencing showed a link between them and the Northland case from the Pullman Hotel.

The two completed managed isolation in the same hotel and at about the same time as the Northland woman, but were on a different floor from her.

Hipkins wouldn't divulge which countries the two cases arrived from but said it was neither South Africa nor the UK.

Everyone who has been at the Pullman during January will now be tested.

Three people from the hotel have now tested positive more than a week after they completed managed isolation.

Hipkins told Morning Report no new returnees would be sent to the Pullman Hotel, its staff would now not be allowed to move between facilities, and the air-conditioning would be kept on to flush out the air in common spaces.

"Until we've figured out what's happened at the Pullman we won't put more people in there. We won't take people out of there. We've delayed the release of people who were due to be released. We're endeavouring to control that risk as much as we can."

Click a link to play audio (or right-click to download) in
MP3 format.

Hipkins said further test results today would confirm if the new cases were active, or remnants of an old one.

"We are proceeding with a great degree of caution. Close contacts have been identified and been asked to isolate and test."

The Health Ministry has also put out a list of places the pair have been to.


He said about three-quarters of the people staying at the Pullman about the same time as the positive cases have been tested. There were still about 20 people yet to be contacted.

"All have come back negative barring about four. One was a historic case, the other a false positive and then we've got these two we're dealing with at the moment."

He said there was no evidence of community transmission in order to call for restrictions on social gatherings.

Lockdown the 'last resort' - Auckland mayor

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff told Morning Report it would be "premature to go into lockdown now".

"It's the last resort. If we need to do it, we'd have to do it but nobody wants to do it and nobody sees that in being critical in the absence of evidence that there has been wider spread in the community by these cases."

He said health was important but so was ensuring the livelihood of people and businesses.

"Lockdown ... it is the last thing you turn to."

Goff hoped health authorities were prepared for a rise in tests but urged the public to only get tested if they were symptomatic or had been in the same locations as the positive cases.

"Don't get tested if you don't need to be tested."

He said Auckland was more vulnerable to an outbreak because its airport was where most international returnees arrived and also where there were the most number of manage isolation facilities.

"That's a burden we carry for the rest of the country."

The three positive cases from the Pullman Hotel suggested some "systemic failure" and there was a need to get to the bottom of it, he said.

While New Zealand had been largely able to contain the virus, "we are not failsafe", he said.

As for the upcoming long weekends of Auckland Anniversary and Waitangi Day, he said there was no word yet from public health authorities to stay home. "At this point it not deemed necessary."

National Party reacts

National Party Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop said people mingling in isolation facilities had been a concern for a while, and more so now in light of the new variants entering the country.

"The whole point of MIQ is you're not meant to catch Covid in MIQ."

He said it was vital that MIQ facilities were not the reason for further infections.

It was concerning that some people who had been in the Pullman were not yet reached, he said. "That's a vector for transmission at the moment."

The next 48 to 72 hours were crucial to finding the extent of the cases, he said.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Keith Rankin: Our Neanderthal Ancestry

After my partner read Dan Salmon's novel Neands – written during lockdown in 2020 – I decided to renew my interest in our distant ancestry, in part with a concern that homo neanderthalensis has been unable to shake off, so far, its unflattering reputation in popular culture... More>>

Ian Powell: Rescuing Simpson From Simpson

(Originally published at The Democracy Project ) Will the health reforms proposed for the Labour Government make the system better or worse? Health commentator Ian Powell (formerly the Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical ... More>>

Missions To Mars: Mapping, Probing And Plundering The Red Planet

In the first month of 2020, Forbes was all excitement about fresh opportunities for plunder and conquest. Titled “2020: The Year We Will Conquer Mars”, the contribution by astrophysicist Paul M. Sutter was less interested in the physics than the conquest. ... More>>

Jennifer S. Hunt: Trump Evades Conviction Again As Republicans Opt For Self-Preservation

By Jennifer S. Hunt Lecturer in Security Studies, Australian National University Twice-impeached former US President Donald Trump has evaded conviction once more. On the fourth day of the impeachment trial, the Senate verdict is in . Voting guilty: ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Let The Investigation Begin: The International Criminal Court, Israel And The Palestinian Territories

International tribunals tend to be praised, in principle, by those they avoid investigating. Once interest shifts to those parties, such bodies become the subject of accusations: bias, politicisation, crude arbitrariness. The United States, whose legal and political ... More>>

The Conversation: How To Cut Emissions From Transport: Ban Fossil Fuel Cars, Electrify Transport And Get People Walking And Cycling

By Robert McLachlan Professor in Applied Mathematics, Massey University The Climate Change Commission’s draft advice on how to decarbonise New Zealand’s economy is refreshing, particularly as it calls on the government to start phasing out fossil ... More>>

  • PublicAddress
  • Pundit
  • Kiwiblog