Covid 19 coronavirus: New case linked to Defence cluster, CBD to re-open, mask order pending

New Zealand will remain at alert level 1 and Auckland’s CBD will re-open after the source of the latest community Covid-19 case was identified.

The latest case – an AUT student aged in her 20s -had been genomically linked to the Defence worker who was infected at a quarantine hotel, Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins said.

There were no new cases connected today, he said.

However, the Government is asking New Zealanders to continue to act with caution to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

“Events can take place but we are asking people to act with caution,” Hipkins said.

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On Monday, Hipkins will take an order to Cabinet seeking to make mask use on public transport in Auckland mandatory, including all flights in and out of the city.

If Cabinet agrees to the mask mandate, a timeline will be announced on Monday, but it will likely be required by the end of next week.

But New Zealanders are being asked to follow that advice now.

Hipkins said the recent events highlighted “just how important” New Zealand’s constant vigilance is.

Hipkins said they were not yet in a position to rule out other cases connected to the Defence Force cluster. The Government was asking all employers to allow their sick workers to stay home.

It was especially in businesses’ interests that the CBD stayed open.

Hipkins said one of the differences between this latest case and the August Auckland cluster linked to a church was that there was a lot more information and the genomic testing had given a greater level of comfort.

The mask use on public transport is for Auckland at this point, but other areas would also be considered over the next week, Hipkins said.

Student now fourth member of Defence Force cluster

Director of public health Caroline McElnay said the genome sequencing of the woman’s case was identical to one in the Defence Force cluster and the investigation was now focusing on the link between the woman and the other confirmed cases.

Meanwhile, there are four other new cases of Covid-19 today – all in managed isolation. One of those was a recent arrival and the other three cases are historical cases.

Four additional testing stations have been set up. The testing sites are reporting steady volumes.

Stay home if you feel sick

McElnay said anyone in the Auckland area or throughout New Zealand who has cold or flu symptoms should stay home and get a test then stay isolated until they got a negative result.

If you were in Auckland CBD at locations of interest, you should get at test regardless of whether you have symptoms.

Hipkins said the four cases connected to the cluster “feel the weight of the entire country on their shoulders” and they didn’t deserve to be the subject of abuse.

He said “being in the eye of the storm” could impact on their ability to recall their movements.

The latest community case, a woman in her 20s, was reported yesterday, sparking an investigation into how she might have been infected with the virus.

She felt ill on Monday, got a test on Tuesday but went to work and wore a mask at A-Z Collections on High St after a conversation with her manager.

Auckland CBD workers were today encouraged to work from home and those who live in the area have been advised to limit their movements and contact with others.

As well, New Zealanders are being asked to:

• Wear face coverings on public transport, planes and in places physical distancing isn’t possible.

• Use the Covid Tracer app wherever you go.

• Stay home if you’re sick, isolate and get a test.

• Wash your hands and cover your mouth if you sneeze or cough.

It was also revealed today the woman, who is an AUT student, didn’t go to classes but was at the City Campus Student Hub – an information hub for students – from 2.30pm to 2.40pm on Tuesday.

She also visited several locations:

These include:

• Smith and Caughey’s on Queen St on Saturday, November 7 (3.50pm–6pm).

• Red Pig Restaurant, Kitchener St on Saturday, November 7 (6pm-8.30pm).

• Takeaways from Starbucks Queen St and from Sunnytown Restaurant on Sunday, November 8 (11.30am-11.45am).

• Takeaways from The Gateau House on Queen St on Sunday November 8 (6.40pm-6.50pm)

• Takeaways from Starbucks Queen St and from Sunnytown Restaurant, Lorne St, on Monday, November 9 (11.31am-11.40am).

Anyone who dined at the Red Pig is being asked to isolate and get a test. People who were in the same place at the other locations should be on high alert for symptoms.

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