Politics

Covid 19 coronavirus: Ministry reveals latest new case numbers

The Ministry of Health is revealing the latest number of new Covid-19 cases at about 1pm today.

It has been 21 days since the last case was reported in the community.

The last update was on Friday, when 10 new cases in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) were revealed, covering the previous two days. Today’s update will include cases since Friday’s update.

It comes as Cabinet prepares to discuss a quarantine-free transtasman bubble on Monday, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said she doesn’t want to release a timeline until a date firms up.

Only one visitor from Australia so far this year tested positive for Covid-19 while in managed isolation, and health experts have described a transtasman bubble as very low risk.

This week Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said airlines and airports would need at least three weeks to put practices in place so a bubble could operate safely.

He said many issues remain unresolved, including when the bubble should be suspended, what happens to stranded Kiwis if it is suspended, the testing requirements in both countries, the exit-visa requirements for Australians coming here, and the contact-tracing compatibility of both countries’ systems.

Including other countries in the bubble is also a consideration, and people are already allowed to travel to New Zealand from the Cook Islands and Niue without having to quarantine.

What to do with empty MIQ rooms is also an issue, and health experts have floated the idea of closing them rather than allowing travellers from higher-risk countries to use them.

Hipkins has said the Government is considering options, but its unlikely to open up all of the 30 to 40 per cent of MIQ capacity to travellers from countries other than Australia because that would increase risk.

A bubble is also highly anticipated by the struggling tourism industry hoping an influx of Australian visitors will ease the loss of foreign tourists.

On Friday the Ministry of Health blamed a “process issue” for the over-reporting of this country’s active Covid cases.

Health officials said on Wednesday that there were 97 active cases in New Zealand – but on Friday that number was revised down to 55.

“Some recovered cases had been discharged from a managed quarantine facility but their status was not updated from active to recovered in our reporting systems,” the ministry said in a statement.

“It has been confirmed that all positive cases were managed appropriately and there has been no risk to the community.”

Friday’s 10 cases in MIQ were travellers from America, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Portugal.


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