Covid 19 coronavirus: More community cases? Crucial day for test results

Kiwis are about to find out whether there are any new Covid community cases, with today being the day test results from people close to the Auckland cluster will start to be revealed.

Health officials say results from close and casual plus contacts connected to the Papatoetoe cluster will now determine whether Auckland stays in lockdown.

And Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins and director general of health Ashley Bloomfield will present a vaccine rollout update from 1pm.

Hipkins said earlier today there were no new Covid community cases reported overnight.

Hipkins rejected suggestions the continued lockdown was embarrassing when there were no new cases. He told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking it was “encouraging”.

He stood by the decision to move Auckland to Level 3.

“I think we’re back to where we were two weeks ago. Ultimately we want to get out of lockdown as soon as we can … we’re working at speed to make sure we can get decisions as quick as we can.”

The last thing he wanted was to go back into lockdown, he said.

He revealed “eight or nine thousand” people had been vaccinated already. This was ahead of schedule.

Frontline health workers would start getting their jabs this week.

Test results due to come back included people who had come into contact with a 21-year-old man, dubbed Case M, who visited a number of places in South Auckland when he would have been infectious.

He is a student at the Manukau Institute of Technology. He visited the campus several times and on several days last week.

A total of 21 people connected to MIT are now regarded as close contacts. So far, their tests have come back negative.

Health officials are also keeping a close eye on people who were at City Fitness Papatoetoe, which Case M visited on Saturday, February 20 and on Friday, February 26.

The Ministry of Health has identified 158 gymgoers linked to the gym, in Hunters Plaza, considered to be casual plus contacts.

Of particular importance are those who were at the gym on Friday, when the man visited after getting a Covid test.

Those gymgoers will be up to get tested for the first time today – as testing either on or after day five when someone has been exposed to an infected person is regarded as the prime time to test.

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