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Hipkins and Bloomfield give update after Covid-19 case

The Wellington region will move to alert level 2 from 6pm tonight until 11.59pm on Sunday.

The announcement comes after a person who travelled from Sydney to Wellington tested positive for the virus upon their return.

The person was in Wellington from 19 June until 21 June.

In today's 1pm press conference, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says that includes the Wairarapa and the Kāpiti Coast.

The rest of New Zealand will remain at alert level 1.

"We just held a special meeting and out of an abundance of caution the Wellington region will move to alert level 2 from 6pm tonight and that will run through at this point until 11.59pm on Sunday," Hipkins says.

Alert level 2 means:

  • Limits on gathering size to fewer than 100 people, including tangi, church services, weddings and so on
  • Physical distancing in public places of 2m, and at least 1m in most other places including workplaces
  • Face masks remains mandatory on all public transport, and encourages while waiting for public transport and in rideshare services and taxis as well
  • Businesses can open but must follow public health rules including the 100 person cap on venues
  • Hospitality locations must apply the three S rules
  • As with all levels, people with symptoms should call healthline or their doctor to seek advice on getting a test

Travel is not restricted under alert level 2 but anyone who has been in the Wellington region over the weekend should keep alert level 2 behaviours if they go elsewhere.

"I want to reiterate that these are precautionary measures ... first and foremost we want to ensure that New Zealanders are not exposed to Covid-19."

On the person in question, Hipkins says they were likely to have been infected before they travelled to New Zealand.

"I do want to reassure New Zealanders that we've always had plans in place for situations like this and that is what we are working through now. Our contact tracers have been working at pace and they have been since we were first notified of this case last night."

He says the case, who has since returned to Sydney was spoken to last night and again early this morning. Their four close contacts were notified last night, and two have returned negative results.

He also says the decision to pause travel with New South wales was made before New Zealand officials were notified of the case. When the case left Sydney there were just four cases there, though that number has since grown significantly.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says authorities learnt this morning that the new case works in a healthcare setting close to the Bondi junction that is the centre of the current outbreak in Sydney. He says one of the other cases that is part of the current outbreak had been seen there.

The person has had the first dose of a vaccine about 10 weeks ago and thoroughly used the Covid-19 Tracer app while visiting in New Zealand.

"Our hope is that many people who visited those venues that are locations of interest have also been using the app ... however that is complementary to the information that we have put out on our website."

He says the ministry feels confident they have identified all the locations of interest but more specific information will be provided about specific locations at Wellington airport after CCTV has been assessed.

Two of the person's four contacts are located in Palmerston North, and the other two are in Tauranga. Those in Tauranga had a much more fleeting interaction with the case. All four are isolating.

Some 58 passengers who came into New Zealand from Sydney early on Saturday morning are considered close contacts and will have been contacted, Bloomfield says. They would all have been notified last night and be ringing healthline directly.

Bloomfield says he encourages Wellingtonians and others who have been in Wellington over the weekend to check the places in the locations of interest. Some people will be required to isolate for the full 14 days.

The case stayed at Rydges hotel in Featherston Street and spent the weekend in tourist and other places around Wellington and dining in the central city. Some of those who were on the return flight to Sydney have since returned to New Zealand and are also being contacted.

Genome sequencing is underway in Australia to see if the case is linked to the current outbreak in Sydney.

People who have been at these locations at the relevant time should immediately isolate at their home or accommodation and call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice on testing.

More to come...

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