Covid-19 wrap for 20 September: Auckland to leave alert level 4

Covid-19 wrap 20 September

2021-09-20 13:01:15

Confirmation of Auckland’s move down to Covid-19 alert level 3 at midnight Tuesday was the main coronavirus news for Monday as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern marked a month and four days since the Delta variant outbreak began.

Covid-19 wrap 20 September

Monday was a busy day for Covid-19 news – the prime minister announced Auckland’s alert level change, the new MIQ booking system started, testing for the Waikato coronavirus scare got underway and the police revealed they caught gang associates heading into Auckland with a car load of KFC and cash
Photo: RNZ / Supplied

It was an eventful day for updates on the virus – including 22 new community cases, the first day of the new managed isolation and quarantine booking system, the Māori King endorsing the Pfizer vaccine, updates on the scare in rural Waikato – and gang associates nabbed with a car load of KFC crossing the Tāmaki Makaurau border.

Auckland to change alert levels

Auckland will move to alert level 3 from 11.59pm on Tuesday night, and stay in level 3 for at least two weeks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday afternoon.

The rest of the country will remain in level 2, but will move from gatherings of 50 up to 100.

Meanwhile, part of northern Waikato has been issued a section 70 order, requiring people who live or work there to stay at home.

“We are not stepping out of level 4 because the job is done, but nor are we moving because we don’t think we can achieve the goal of stamping out Covid-19 – we are moving because level 3 still provides a cautious approach while we continue to stamp out Covid-19,” Ardern said.

“It means staying in your bubble, it means contactless transactions and keeping your distance. It means we say thank you to Auckland for their tireless work, and we collectively keep going.”

Section 70 order for northern Waikato

A steady flow of people have been going through a testing centre near Kaiaua on the Firth of Thames following the discovery of three Covid-19 cases in the area, outside the level 4 boundary.

A steady flow of people have been going through a testing centre near Kaiaua on the Firth of Thames following the discovery of three Covid-19 cases in the area.
Photo: RNZ / Andrew McRae

Part of northern Waikato has been issued a section 70 order, requiring people who live or work there to stay at home.

The move was announced at today’s post-Cabinet media conference by Director of General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

Bloomfield said he was issuing a section 70 order requiring people who live or work in the area around Mangatangi, in northern Waikato, to stay at home. Ardern said it was effectively a “bespoke level 4”.

Bloomfield said the order was for people living in an area north of SH2 centred on Mangatangi.

“That will effectively extend the road boundary to the east of Maramarua … and also to the southeast of Miranda on the Firth of Thames.”

It comes after three people in one family in Whakatīwai tested positive for Covid-19 after it was found a member of their household tested positive while on electronic bail from Auckland’s Mount Eden prison.

Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson [ says the prisoner should never have been bailed outside Auckland.

Meanwhile, residents in the area have turned out in force to get tested for Covid-19.

At least 250 people had been tested by midday at a pop-up testing centre at Wharekawa Marae, just up the road from Kaiaua.

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson says there’s evidence the Waikato cases are likely linked to one of the current clusters.

New cases

There were 22 new cases of Covid-19 in the community today, the Ministry of Health confirmed.

Three of the new cases are in Whakatīwai in Waikato but are being counted in the Auckland total, the ministry said.

That brings the total number of community cases in the current outbreak to 1071. There are 1051 in Auckland (677 of whom have recovered) and 17 in Wellington (all of whom have recovered).

The ministry said 17 of today’s 22 new community cases have been epidemiologically linked. Five are yet to be linked.

In total, 1039 cases in the current cluster have been epidemiologically linked (12 unlinked from the past fortnight).

There are 10 epidemiologically linked subclusters. Of these, two are active, seven are contained and one is dormant.

Thousands miss MIQ spots

There was disappointment and frustration for the 22,000 New Zealanders trying to get home through the MIQ system who missed out on places this morning.

At least 25,000 people were vying for a place using a new ‘virtual lobby system’.

Just 3000 of them, who were randomly given a spot at the front of the queue, were able to get a booking for rooms from September through to December.

The new system allows people to access the ‘virtual lobby’ – they have one hour to get in, and from there they are put into a randomised queue and given a spot when they reach the front.

Another room release is planned for next week.

Māori King endorses Pfizer vaccine

Māori King Tuheitia and other senior figures have banded together to encourage Māori to get their Covid-19 vaccines.

Tuheitia, along with the Tumuaki o te Kiingitanga, Anaru Tamihana, and the Ariki o Tuwharetoa, Tā Tumu Te Heuheu, have all endorsed the Pfizer vaccine.

They say they have all had it, and are encouraging others to protect their whānau and whakapapa.

“This is an important step in ensuring our reo, our Tikanga and everything about being Māori stays here for generations to come,” the trio said in their signed statement.

Gang associates caught with cash and KFC

Police say the offenders were found with

Police say the offenders were found with “a car boot full” of KFC.
Photo: NZ Police

Police arrested two gang associates they say were trying to get past Auckland’s border on a back road, with a large quantity of cash and KFC.

Police said the pair were pulled over while officers were patrolling back roads near the border.

They were found with more than $100,000 in cash and “a car boot full” of KFC.

“Officers noticed a suspicious looking vehicle travelling on a gravel road, and upon seeing the police car the vehicle did a U-turn, and sped off, trying to evade police,” a statement said.

When the car did pull over, officers found they had come from Hamilton and were trying to get into Auckland.

The vehicle was searched, and empty ounce bags were also found, alongside the stack of takeways.

More updates from Monday

You can also look back over the day’s event by checking out what was posted in our daily Covid-19 live blog.

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