Testing centres in Auckland had their busiest day ever yesterday, by more than 50 per cent.
More than 24,000 community tests were performed across the city, with more than 8000 at community testing centres and around 16,000 at general practice and urgent care clinics.
The Ministry thanked for their patience at sites while there was high demand and for complying with lockdown restrictions.
The Ministry also thanked testing staff for stepping up again and working at pace at the frontline of the COVID-19 response, in high-stress environments while making personal sacrifices to keep our communities safe.
There are 13 community testing centres available for testing across Auckland today, including seven pop-up community testing centres at Narrow Neck, St Lukes, Wairau Valley, St Johns, Albany, Māngere East, and Pakuranga Heights.
There is additional dedicated testing for Avondale College staff, students and whānau, who are considered to be close contacts.
Additionally, about 2600 swabs have been taken onsite from Auckland City Hospital staff, following news a nurse was at work while potentially infectious, and all have been negative so far.
All community testing centres in Auckland are continuing to operate extended hours and many will remain open until 8pm today.
In Wellington, Covid testing is under way, with a range of sites already in place and are additional testing capacity available if needed.
Pop-up testing sites remain open in Coromandel Township, Thames, and Hamilton.
Yesterday, Waikato DHB’s laboratory processed 2590 tests and all returned a negative result.
Further locations, including in rural areas, are being considered to expand the geographical spread of testing to help determine whether there has been any undetected transmission to date.
Covid-19 was detected in wastewater samples collected on Wednesday from the Waitakere area in Auckland. This follows detection in the sample from Tuesday.
There have been no unexpected detections to report outside the Auckland region.
Community cases’ link to Crowne Plaza
The latest preliminary results from the recent whole genome sequencing of 10 test results completed last night show that, of the community cases sequenced to date, all are linked with the series of cases associated with the Devonport tradesman (Case A).
The community cases are genomically linked to a case in managed isolation who stayed in the Crowne Plaza. Whole genome sequencing has also linked three cases in a family bubble next door to that original case.
As a result, public health officials are now arranging further testing for those returnees who were or are still on the same floor.
Separately the Air New Zealand crew member has been linked to three other cases in managed isolation in a different facility. These four cases are not linked to the community cluster of cases and have a separate origin from overseas.
As of 9am today, 1189 individual contacts had been identified by contact tracers excluding contacts from large settings, such as Avondale College and the Central Auckland Church of Christ, which are still being assessed.
Of those, 642 contacts were in the Auckland and Waikato regions and 149 contacts were located throughout the rest of New Zealand with the location of the remaining contacts still being confirmed.
There are approximately 120 staff at North Shore Hospital who were rostered on and may have been in the affected areas at the same time as a positive patient.
Of these, 30 had direct contact with the patient, the ministry understands.
About 107 patients were in the affected areas at the same time as the positive patient.
Of those, 29 were still inpatients and were being isolated and tested for Covid while 78 had been discharged and were self-isolating at home.
Patients needing emergency care are being diverted from North Shore Hospital to other emergency departments across metro Auckland.
Yesterday 29,917 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were administered.
Of those, 21,291 first doses were given and 8626 second doses.
21 cases yesterday
Yesterday, director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the number of confirmed cases had grown to 21. Another was confirmed this morning as Auckland’s North Shore Hospital closed its emergency department after the confirmation a patient treated there had tested positive for the virus.
As of yesterday, all the confirmed cases were in Auckland – welcome news for the rest of the country.
However, the Herald understands the outbreak has ballooned to at least 30 cases, with at least two confirmed cases found in Miramar, Wellington.
In Auckland, thousands of secondary school pupils, their families and staff are now under isolation orders after it emerged that, along with Avondale College, students from Northcote and Lynfield colleges had also tested positive.
In Wellington, the Capital & Coast District Health Board referred any questions about the potential Wellington cases to the Ministry of Health, which is due to provide an update at 1pm.
Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said the council was speaking with regional public health officials. The council was seeking more information, he said.
It also emerged this morning that a temporary postal worker, who worked at Auckland’s operations centre in Highbrook, also tested positive after being at work on Monday.
The number of locations of interest listed on the Ministry of Health’s website has also grown with 148 visits to 123 exposure sites that include large Auckland malls, the casino, schools, churches, playgrounds, shops, night clubs and eateries.
One modeller puts the number of cases reaching 100 in coming days given several superspreader events that took place at the weekend.
But, there was a spark of hope in Ardern’s announcement yesterday that the source of the outbreak appeared to have been found.
Genome sequencing linked the outbreak to a traveller in MIQ who returned from New South Wales on August 7. On August 9 he tested positive for Covid 19 and was moved from the Crowne Plaza to the Jet Park quarantine facility.
Ardern said it appears that somehow that person had passed the virus on during his trip home to New Zealand time, at the Crowne Plaza, during the transfer or at Jet Park.
She said the focus now was on finding the missing links as well as tracing the virus downstream.
The good news is the virus can’t have been circulating in the community for more than 11 days before lockdown.
The bad news is the Delta variant is much more contagious and it remains to be seen how far it managed to spread during that time.