COVID-19 update 12 October 2021

News article

12 October 2021

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield will update the media today at 1pm.

>>Tena koutou katoa, Good afternoon.

I will shortly set out some of our plans for this weekend's Super Saturday vaccination drive, but first, I will hand over to Dr Bloomfield for the latest case numbers and just as a heads up our expectation, scripts are short today, our expectation is it that question should hopefully keep this press conference to on the half-hour .

>>Tena koutou katoa. Thank you, Prime Minister.

So today we have 43 new community cases to report.

40 of these cases are in the Auckland region and three are in Waikato.

There are also three cases to report in recent returnees in managed isolation.

Of today's 43 cases, 19 remain unlinked at this point, but I should say that interviews are outstanding with all those and they are under way at the moment.

Of note and pleasingly, all three of the Waikato cases are household contacts, who were already in isolation.

Of yesterday's 35 cases, 14 remain unlinked a this the point, with investigations also ongoing.

Now, as you will be aware, this morning we confirmed that the travelling companion of the Northland case has also tested positive for COVID-19, and both cases are now in the Auckland quarantine facility.

There are currently 18 close contacts associated with the original case and of these 17 have been located and tested and are isolating.

The remaining person is being actively followed up by our contact tracers.

Our pin lick health staff in Auckland are working clothely with both cases to determine any further locations of interest or exposure eventness anded are making pro progress there.

Any new locations of interest will be added to the ministry's website.

So if you've been in Northland or are in Northland, please do keep an eye on that and of course, likewise, if you are or have been in Auckland or the Waikato, if there are any other locations of interest that relate to the new cases there, they will go on our website.

Meanwhile, just confirming the whole genome sequencing for the original case we had who travelled to Northland shows that this case is linked to the Auckland outbreak, as we had expected.

There are 34 people in hospital today with COVID-19, five of whom are in intensive care or high dependency units.

One of toes people currently requires ventilation.

We are now publishing the vaccination status of the cases in the outbreak each week on our website so far that shows that of the 158 people hospitalised to date since the start of the outbreak, only three of those 158 were fully vaccinated with sufficient time, that is, 14 days to have passed for them to have developed full immunity.

It reinforces the huge protection that vaccination offers.

I'm very pleased to report that the Fijian UN worker who was transferred to and treated in New Zealand for COVID-19 has made a recovery and is being discharged from hospital today, after 76 days in the care of those in that hospital.

I want to thank all the staff involved in providing outstanding care for this person.

You will have noted and we talked about this yesterday a number of exposure events at our hospitals around Auckland and also last week in the Waikato.

These are being appropriately managed by the hospitals.

They have a number of processes in place, both to prevent and then respond to exposure events, including - and we discussed this, this morning with our middle more colleagues - quite liberal use of rapid antigen testing not just on symptomatic people coming through the door but others where they feel there may be value in testing there.

I want to assure people who are unwell, please do seek care at hospital if you need it, because you will be safe and treated well.

And finally, good testing rates.

Yesterday, there were just under 14,000 swabs taken in Auckland, 2,430 swabs taken in Waikato and over 1,200 in north North and over 16,000 tests processed yesterday.

Testing remains a really important part of our efforts to aggressively find and then contain any cases, so please, keep that up.

Back to you, Prime Minister

>>Thank you, Dr Bloomfield.

You have heard me say getting times before that getting vaccinateed is the No.

1 thing that you can do, alongside following restrictions, to help stop the spread of the virus.

Vaccination helps in playing your part to protect children and vulnerable people and get back to a life that feels a little more normal.

This Saturday all across the country we are pushing the vaccination message.

Super Saturday is our chance to roll up your sleeve for New Zealand, and help make us one of the most vaccinated and therefore protected countries in the world.

So here are the stats as they stand.

Currently, 82% of eligible New Zealanders aged 12 and over have had their first dose of the vaccine, and 58% have had their second, and are now fully vaccinated.

In Auckland, those numbers are 87% first dose and 63% second dose.

Overall, these are good figures and according to our world in data, put us a ahead of the United States and Germany and just behind the UK.

But they are aren't high enough to feel confident we can ease restrictions dramatically without seeing a big surge in cases that could overwhelm our health services.

So instead of big surges in cases we want to see a big surge in vaccinations this week.

In order to help with that, I have the pleasure to announce today a blast from the past, to support and encourage our nationwide vaccination effort.

This Saturday, between 12 and 8pm, on Channel 200, and supported to date by Discovery, screened on 3, and Maori TV and streaming on Hahana, Facebook will be holding a vaxa-thon.

It will go live across the country, highlighting vaccine initiatives from one end of the country to the other and urging anyone who hasn't been vaccinated yet to make Saturday today for their first dose and anyone who's been three weeks or longer since their first dose to get their second.

The vaxa-thon will include real- time data throughout the day.

There will be prizes locally for those being vaccinated, information from experts on the safety of the vaccine and some healthy competition between towns and regions.

Vaccinations will be available throughout the day and into the night on Saturday across GP clinics many of whom are opening especially for the day.

Pharmacies, churches, mosques, community centres, workplaces and drive- through centres.

You can go to COVID-19.govt.nz.

nz to find out where you can get a vaccination this Saturday.

If you are a community group or business who wants to support the effort, please go to the website also.

The business so far from business has been fantastic.

Nationwide we have the capacity to administer well over 100,000 vaccines in a single day.

That would lift our vaccination rates considerably.

There is nothing stopping us, other than people showing up.

Our current vaccination record for a single day is 93,334 vaccines in one day, which was on the 26th of August.

And our biggest number of vaccines in a single week is 552,586, and that was the week ending the 5th of September.

So those are the records that we should try and beat this week.

Auckland, let's aim to get first doses ever 09% by the end of Saturday and see a surge in second doses too.

New Zealand has been world leading on keeping down case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths as well as delivering a strong economy and low unemployment.

I believe we can be world leading on vaccines too and become one of the most highly vaccinated and protected countries globally which will mean we will be able to get on track to safely open our restrictions we currently have.

To get there, we need a big collective effort, and soon.

The countdown issed on and waiting for your vaccine means we need to wait longer with some of those restrictions and I now how frustrating they've been so I urge everyone, especially our young people, who have shown great leadership already, to help us get the job done and ask everyone to do it for children who can't be vax fated, the vulnerable and most at risk who can't get sick, please help out.

I will now take questions.

>>Did either of the woman who travelled to Northland attend a tangi? >>Not that I've been advised but at the time we were briefed this morning, the second individual, who we only contacted early evening yesterday was, in the middle of being interviewed.

We've not been provided with fulsome information around their movements >>What type of document was used to get past the border?

A personal exemption or.

>>I believe they went through the MB process.

>>Is the government aware of any other illegitimate border crossings, connected or otherwise, with the two women who went to Northland?

>>Associated with that particular trip, into the I've been Alzheimer's disease surprised but again, interviews are under way.

Dr Bloomfield?

>>A couple of things.

One is on the original exemption sought through the process, essential worker exemption, four people for whom the exemption was asked for.

All the investigations suggest that just two of those people crossed the boundary and those are the two we now have in quarantine.

The second it comment, just an update, of those close contacts of our first case, 17 have returned negative tests.

The other is the person who was found last night who's now returned a positive test.

>>What instructions can the - what assurances can the government give to concerned area leaders about the robustness of the border crossing system?

>>The issue has been that this person has falsely acquired their validity to travel but they have been picked up through the fact that they were required to be tested.

So we're constantly looking at what more we can do to ensure protections are in place, but testing is a really important part of that.

>>The Wellington case that's connected, what more can you tell us about that?

>>I will let Dr Bloomfield answer that.

I was advised they were identified as a contact and tested >>That's right.

One of the contacts is in Wellington and as I've just been able to update, all those contacts, the ones in Northland, Auckland and the one in Wellington v returned negative tests aside from this second individual who's now a case.

>>Can you describe a little bit more about the contact tracing in this particular scenario, and are you having to go and find people who may have had particular contact with either of these two women through, for example, CCTV, who haven't wanted to come forward, and are you confident that those 18 is the full extent, because again, we are still seeing quite a low number of actual locations of interest comparatively >>I expect that's likely to change.

In the first blush, we had one individual who was not sharing the information we needed to adequately contact-trace.

So we were heavily relying on the work of the police to identify the movement of the vehicle, the places they'd been sighted, CCTV footage and talking to those where we knew the individuals had been.

So identified a number of contacts through those mechanisms.

We now have an interview under way and we've been advised that we are getting information through that interview.

So we will - our expectation would be, if that is indeed the case, then we should be able to share more information as a consequence.

>>Scenario that we're looking at, is it a bigger risk because there might not be contacts who want to come forward, they're not going to be necessarily identified in the normal contact-tracing way.

So is there an extra risk that there are polths tensionally people who are exposed in the community that you don't know about?

>>That is not a new risk in in outbreak.

Unfortunately, we've had this experience before.

This is rather extraordinary in the fact that we've got almost complete silence from one of the individuals and that is something we've experienced less often but we now have a second individual who I'm told is sharing the information that we need and was travelling with the other individual for the duration.

>>Is either of the women a 501 deportee or recent returnee to New Zealand?

And also, what about the locations of the first case's contact?

Where in Northland are they?

Because Kowapowa is listed but Pihea is not.

>>That's where the contacts are reported as being.

Those contacts may well have been at sites like petrol stations and things like that.

But it's where they are located.

>>Locations (inaudible)?

>>The question you asked about the around 501 so I simply cannot answer that either way >>Two separate things.

One is the police have been able to assemble information about the places that the individuals recall.

Sometimes they were in this town.

In other cases there are specific locations of interest and those are the ones on our website where we are clear about a specific petrol station or an accommodation facility and the time period there.

Those are the ones already on the website.

>>Sorry, were they in Pihea?

>>I'd have to check.

I don't have that information just to hand here, but what I would say is of course as any new locations of interest we will put up, but the people we really want to be tested are the ones who know they have had contact with them, and they don't need to say who they are.

But as I've appealed over the last couple of days, just go and be tested.

>>From your point of view, the health official dealing with this, what difficulties and challenges have will been in the contact tracing in particular where this case and how would you assess the different risks in Northland because of that?

>>Obviously, it's helpful if we get all the information as soon as possible about places where people have been.

But we have seen right through this outbreak that our teams have adapted to different situations and I think done a really good job of using different approaches, different networks, and in some cases, third parties to assist with not just getting information, but getting people who we want to be tested, tested.

And that's been hugely helpful in us being able to, to date, maintain our case numbers at a level which is much lower than you would expect, if you just had uncontrolled spread out there.

>>I expect that probably later on this afternoon, we may be in a position to identify further locations of interest if they indeed exist.

But as at 11.

30, that extensive interview was still under way.

>>Waste water testing coming back clear so far as well?

>>I - yes.

>>When a person gets a test, how quickly should positive test results be notified to a case?

>>Well, when it's a positive test result, it's actually notified to the medical officer of health first and then the Public Health Unit rings the person to let them know, and in these sorts of situations, we prioritise, and right through the outbreak, tests on people who we know are contacts.

>>Should they know that they're a positive COVID case?

24 hours, 48 hours?

>>Generally within 24 hours is what we aim for >>What risk does it pose to the community if there are delays in getting those positive test results back to COVID cases?

>>Have you got a specific example of concern?

>>I do.

>>Very keen to know.

We've been tracking quite closely the processing particularly of tests as they've been coming back through the Northland region to ensure that that's happening in a timely way but we do ex peed it the positives.

>>Generally speaking, though, what risk does a COVID case unnecessarily staying in the community because a test result.

>>If they are a contact, they should be isolating already and if they are symptomatic they should be isolating already >>No qualms with testing delays?

>>We've been working very hard ensure we don't have delays.

We were tracking what was occurring in Northland to ensure those were being processed quickly but we've had no reports of delays in recent times in Auckland fess that the suggestion >>Five days from test.

>>Something has gone wrong there.

That is absolutely outside of what we would normally expect.

>>Very happy to get the feedback on that.

>>Do you carry that data?

>>Yes, we do.

>>They don't have central tracking at the Ministry of Health of those delayed results.

>>We do know processing times.

>>We do routine ly record every day the number of tests that are still outstanding, either under 24 hours or under 48 hours or over 48 hours.

I'm very surprised in the situation where there's been that long a delay for as to tiff test that would normally come to ur attention.

Very happy to follow that up.

>>Sometimes we have noticed differences where there've been GP clinic tests for different reasons.

Happy to take it away.

>>Can you say whether both.

The women who went to Northland were vax - vaccinated or unvax nailthed?

>>Don't have that information >>Prime Minister, you have talked previously about whether it should be - would it be worthy to make it mandatory for travellers leaving the boundary to be vaccinated?

>>There's a certainly been a lot of discussion around that.

And I expect that Cabinet will continue to discuss ways that we can ensure, you know, that boundary we're keeping people as safe as possible.

At the same time there is a call on us to enable further movement because ofth length of time that the boundary has been in place.

So there are judgments to be made here, both in ensuring it's secure, but also acknowledging there's a lot of pressure on it already.

>>There've always been some people, like Professor Plank, has talked about how rapid antigen testing could be useful at the boundary to ensure up the process that's already happening there.

Is that an option?

>>I would imagine the Auckland case wouldn't be picked up by antigen but would be picked up by PCR.

Is he suggesting both still?

>>He's suggesting to complement PCR >>We're looking at it.

I've asked the team to look at whether we increase the frequency of the once every seven day testing for es Tseng workers crossing the boundary that would be my first go-to, and one of the reasons is whilst rapid antigen testing is called that, it's quite a process and does take quite a bit of time so the team is looking at that at the moment.

We're really keen to make sure that boundary is as tight as possible to help avoid outside of Auckland.

>>Dr Bloomfield, we've had reports of a 06-year- old woman waiting for a callback for a test in the Hokianga area.

He's also considering maybe having to go to Kaikor for a test which includes a ferry trade and a 45-minute drive.

Is that good enough?

>>Auckland HBD has increased the number of testing sites in that area across the last couple of days.

There was some feedback about their desire for greater testing sites.

A lot.

Them are based around the hospitals there.

So they have put in place more testing sites.

>>Three testing stations north of Kaikohe suffering almost 200 kilometres.

Has Northland been left high and dry given the anxieties they're experiencing at the moment?

>>I think the team up there is responding to requests for additional testing access.

>>They've been particularly focused on pop-up and availability in areas where we know that those positive cases have been, so we'll have to keep assessing that we've got good proximity of testing alongside those communities where we have those real concerns too.

>>Could I just quickly ask about vaccine mandates.

Maori teachers currently make up 12% of the work force.

We've already spoken to a number who won't be getting a vaccination who are leaving the industry.

What impact do you see that having on the already strained work force, and ultimately, Maori education?

>>The first thing I would say is that I really do hope that those teachers reconsider and there is time built into those mandates for them to seek the advice of those that they trust and I would encourage them to do that.

We don't want to be in the position of losing any of our Maori educators.

But we also have to balance that against ensuring that we're keeping our community safe.

>>Just a follow-up on that question, in terms of teachers - do you have any numbers - and this might be a question for Dr Bloomfield - but do you have any numbers on how much teachers or health workers are interested in getting vaccinated?

>>Health workers we have an idea but educators I'd have to go on the minister on that.

>>If you look at the decision made by Cabinet, it covers a very wide range of healthcare workers.

The best data we have relates to DHB employees and we know in the Auckland region it's very high, partly because they're at the front line of things it does vary by DHB but what I also know and I've seen this in the response to the decisions announced yesterday, is very wide support across both the health and education sectors for this mandate, and I expect that there will be very high uptake across both sectors.

>> >>How are the staff - how are staff coping?

Do you have enough staff, given that so much are having to stand down?

>>In some of the more recent I case there's been no impact on staff.

The staff have been wearing full PPE, they're fully vaccinated so those staff, from our experience in the last two months, we don't need to stand those staff down.

The more recent one in middle more, because the person there was for another reason and it wasn't identified until they became symptomatic a couple of days on, that very much affected that service.

So it's very much service dependent >>On the mandates, businesses have told us they want more from central government to underpin their own mandates.

Are you planning on legislating to protect the businesses if they want to introduce vaccination mandate force customers or their own staff?

>>We are completing a bit more work around those where we're looking to use, for instance, a vaccine certificate.

If you're asking that of everyone who's coming into a premise, then of course, there will be some knock-on effect for those who might be working within those premises.

That's another area we're doing work at the moment.

More broadly, we have government guidance around those - for those employers who may be considering whether or not, for health and safety reasons, they believe a mandate is something they'll need in their workplace.

That guidance sets out the process they need to go to in order to assess if that is indeed the case and whether they've got the footing for them and to help support them as they explore that option.

But at this stage, we're not looking to change any other legislation at this stage around vaccine mandates.

>>And Dr Bloomfield, just on the exemptions to the vaccination mandate - how rare do you expect those vaccination exemptions to be, and what are some of the eligible reasons that could be?

>>Well, the only one that's definitely an exemption is if someone has a medical exemption.

I was reading something today, we're expecting - actually, it was in a media publication, based on information from Mickey Turner.

Less than 100 people across the country for whom this vaccine would be contraindicated.

Beyond that, the expectation is that people will be vaccinated.

And if there are circumstances that need an exceptional look at them, we will do those on a case-by-case basis >>OK.

>>It's going to be extremely rare.

People shouldn't bank on being eligible for a vaccination exemption?

>>No.

That's why the mandate is there.

>>OK.

>>On the vaxa-thon, great name, by the way.

>>Not my own work

>>Oh OK.

Will you have a specific target for that day?

You mentioned there was 92,000 was the highest.

Are you aiming to be more ambitious, have 100,000 on a day?

>>We've already said that we have capacity to be able to do 100,000.

We want to beat the record that we had previously of 93,000 is our best day.

So let's see if we can reach that capacity.

We're trying by the end of the week to get Auckland up to first doses at 90%, but this is not just about Auckland.

We need the rest of the country to have those high rates as well.

We're having a look at whether or not there are some other goals that we can set across the course of the week and across the course of the day.

>>In telethons in the past they've had a big colour in when you get to a certain mark.

Will there be one of those?

>>I think you can expect for those who've watched a telethon before, for there to be a bit of nostalgia.

>>A bit of clarification on the Wellington con - contacts, were they an essential worker or how is there a Wellington contact with the Northland case?

>>I understanding is that's someone who's legitimately been in Northland, keeping in mind that Northland has only recently gone into Level 3.

This is during the time they were not in Level 3 and there are direct flights from Wellington to Auckland.

That's my understanding >>I don't have any other information on that.

>>Coming back to Derek's question earlier in terms of looking at vaccination at the boundary, it's a couple of weeks ago now that we had the unvaccinated truck driver in the Palmerston North example.

How actively are you looking at making sure those who are crossing the boundary are vaccinated or is it just too difficult?

>>It is certainly complex, because of course, we do have a large of number who legitimately travel that are moving freight, that are part of the essential goods and services for all of New Zealand.

Thousands of people legitimately travelling.

And so we are able to check at the border in reasonable time documentation and testing status,ed aing in the ability to test vaccination status and indeed, ensure that those goods and services are still able to move if you bought in a requirement like that, it would take some time to stand up.

If we've mandated we've had to build in enough time for people to complete their vaccination.

So it isn't a straightforward ask but it isn't one that we've dismissed out of hand >>Any particular industries or perhaps some of the more compassionate exemption s that you would consider doing it for?

Is there a way you can break it down and at least have some coverage?

>>Sorry - the way we're trying to get at least some coverage, of course, is by pushing as hard as we are for good universal uptake across Auckland, and so you would expect that there would be a large number of people who are moving through who have been vaccinated just by virtue of the fact that the percentage of Aucklanders continues to increase.

We did tag it right at the beginning with our workplace-based vaccinations, the likes of freight companies because of that movement and they've been really cooperative when we've worked with them and we'll continue to do so.

>>I will come to Benedict then to Tover again.

>>What is the latest COVID modelling you've seen telling you you will happen in this outbreak?

>>At the moment, the R value for this outbreak sits between 1.

2 and 1.

3.

So that does suggest that we will continue to see growth in the outbreak at this stage.

That is why we are asking everyone to really help us by continuing to follow the restrictions that exist but also by being vaccinated.

>>We could see triple-figure days pretty soon?

>>Not necessarily.

An R value of between 1.

2 and 1.

3 suggests, correct me if I'm wrong here, Dr Bloom field, suggests over a two-week period you may see a doubling in cases but it very much depends on whether we sit closer to 1.

2 or 1.

3.

We do need everyone's help to continue to comply with those restrictions, but also, we are seeing the impact on vaccinations.

They are already affecting the growth in the outbreak, helping to control it and it's why vaccines and following the rules are so important.

>>It would take close us to triple figure it is it doubled in the next two weeks, right?

>>She didn't give me a time frame in which you would expect that, but again as I said we've already shared the R value hat at this stage is 1 .

2 and 1.

3 and you can model out from there in terms of what you would expect in terms of growth.

But we are seeking to really control this outbreak that means complying with those restrictions helps, vaccination levels, the more we're able to control its growth means we give ourselves for time for that vaccine to have a real impact on the growth of this outbreak.

>>Where people have an exemption to not wear asthmaing, they don't need to carry proof of an exemption.

Why have you left the rules around mask exemptions.

>>Sorry, start again?

>>Where people have an exempt ion to not wear a mask, they don't need proof.

Why are the requirements around that so loose?

>>I thought we were requiring proof.

>>My understanding was that people are issued with a document and encouraged to carry that with them to show their proof of an exemption >>Could I follow up on that earlier question about the exemption.

Four people were granted exemption, only two of them took up to go to Northland.

It was an MB exemption.

>>Essential worker >>As opposed to through the order where you just bring your documentation with you.

>>So do those essential worker exemptions carry a QR code?

>>Couldn't physically tell you physically what is included in the documentation.

But I do know is requires you to submit information through an online process.

>>It was at that stage that they submitted.

>>That is my understanding >>What can you tell us about an investigation.

>>Hang on.

Sorry.

I did say I would come to Ben, Mark and then Jane.

How about we finish with you?

>>Sure >>Are you concerned, Prime Minister.

The Ministry of Health has revealed that 7.

2 % of people that have had their first dose haven't come in for their second, despite being it six weeks after.

Are you concerned about that?

>>My understanding is on average it's roughly 95% of people still as a general rule are coming forward for that second dose.

Which is a relatively good rate.

But we do want people to come back for their second.

It really does have an impact, that second dose really sits on the foundation of the first, and it is really the thing that's going to give you that extra protection.

It's not a one-dose vaccine for it to be complete.

>>Can I ask also about processing of tests in Northland?

So how much capacity do you have to process those tests?

Do a lot of them have to go to auk hawk?

Will there be an understandable lag, given the regionality of the place, to getting those tests back?

>>The hospital in Northland, all the hospitals, in fact, have the ability to do rapid PCR testing on one of their numbers which does a small number.

Most of the tests are couriered down to Auckland.

In the case of the current week or so, they have increased the number of couriers from ate around the area to expedite the transportation to Auckland.

The turnaround time is a bit longer than it is in the Auckland region but they are being prioritised and turned around so virtually all the tests done to the end of the weekend have been processed and yesterday's ones are obviously now being processed today as well.

>>Any lag with potentially close contacts you might expedite those?

>>If there is someone who is a high index of suspicion, because they would do that as a rapid test on the PCR up there.

>>I had Mark next.

>>Prime Minister, a question for you and Dr Bloomfield.

You said over the last couple of weeks that you don't see a strong reason why many of the cases that we are seeing now are due to a Auckland being in Level 3 that you don't necessarily think they wouldn't have appeared had we stayed in Level 4.

>>Heard me talk yesterday about some of work sight where is we are seeing cases.

But I will let you finish the question >>That seems to be a more limited percentage of the cases we're seeing.

What do you think is responsible for the rise in case it is it's not Level 3?

>>So, look, we have seen cases in work about places that weren't operating in a Level 4 environment that is true.

You heard me talk yesterday about food delivery taxis and construction sites.

I will do a public service announcement.

Please, even the mildest symptoms there, we want people to be tested in particular.

To try and summarise this outbreak quickly is difficult.

But it is fair to say there's a couple of things at play.

I think the fact that here we're dealing with Delta has played a role.

You are hard pressed to find other countries who have managed to completely crush quickly Delta outbreaks.

It's more transmissible and that poses a lot of challenges for contact tracing.

Early on, we saw the point at which someone became infected then infected another with a very, very short window but I think it's roughly three days now on average, so that makes things very hard.

The second factor is simply where this outbreak has reached into.

It has reached into communities that have been sometimes hard to reach.

It's also reached into vulnerable communities.

We know that we've had cases and outbreaks across some members of communities where life sin credibly, incredibly difficult, and I would say COVID is probably not the biggest challenge in their life at the time it reaches them.

And a number of other factors at play, but that gives you a little bit of a flavour on the complexity of this outbreak.

But for me, the ultimate landing point is that no-one is to blame here for the situation in which we find ourselves, other than COVID-19.

And that for me is still the central point.

>>Prime Minister, could I just make a point there?

>>Course.

>>If we look at this the other way, hee we are two months into a Delta outbreak in Auckland, very challenging.

It feels like a lot, but our cases are still relatively low compared with where things are in Melbourne or Sydney.

The vast majority of people have asked of them.

That is the reason for that.

Secondly our teams have been absolutely aggressively testing, tracing, quarantining people and our teams in managed isolation and quarantine have taken in over a thousand people to care for them and make sure that they are not transmitting in the community.

And, third, there's very real impact of vaccination already, and getting those vaccination rates up is the way that we can continue to go back down through the alert levels and maintain control of this Delta outbreak >>Coming back to Benedict's point - looking at - trying to lack at what's happened in Australia, much higher numbers, and where their outbreak was at the point at which their vaccination rates rnd and trying to see the impact of vaccination rate the in those outbreaks to see what lessons we can learn about what the likely impact of vaccination rates might be here as well >>In terms of that point, where cases did start to trend upwards again, that was more when the virus started finding its way into transitional housing and that sort of thing?

>>Or, equally, the level of confidence that we may have had over whether or not we had indeed reached or found all contacts.

That has been something - of course,, when contact tracing, having that denominator, really being confident that you know who all your contacts are, chasing them down, isolating them, it has been harder to be confident that hat all times we've known and understood every single contact around a case for a number of reasons.

>>My 30 minutes has not worked! >>A technical question I guess on the vaccine mandates.

(Inaudible) people who may have been vaccinated overseas with a vaccine that's not only not authorised for use in New Zealand but may not be particularly effective?

>>This is one of the things we're looking at for people travelling to New Zealand.

And also we've looked at for people who might be applying to work already in a border role and who have been vaccinated overseas E we've had technical lad vice on what additional vaccination might be required of those people depending on what vaccine they've already had and our level of confidence.

We are certainly, for people who've received a full course of a vaccine that we've already approved in this country, there's nothing further that those people need to.

For some of the other vaccines we are requiring them to have at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, and we will again look at that for individuals who might be in that position and are covered by the mandate in either the health or education sectors.

>>What can you tell us about an investigation into a man in Level 3 in Whangarei who travelled to Queenstown via Wellington without an appropriate travel exemption?

Is it time, especially given the border may be in place for a while, to look at tightening up the system given the Northland situation and potentially chase cases like this?

>>You would've heard me speak a little bit to the last point that you've made.

I'm advised that of the situation that you've raised, yes, I understand a man flew from Whangarei who Wellington on a commercial flight on Saturday, 9 October, that the individual was travelling for employment but didn't have the necessary documentation that would've allowed that departure under alert Level 3.

I understand the individual is now self- isolating and the Ministry of Health is working with the police on the issue.

>>Just come back to one of those airport situations, that we had, I think, probably the Wanaka couple, we had the other checks weren't tight enough in every single port of departure >>Nor the Wanaka situation, false information - they drove so false information was provided.

What I would need to check is whether or not - we had to move very quickly for instance when we set up the Waikato situation to ensure that we had individuals who could provide checks at the airport, because unlike Auckland and others where you have the AVSEC staff, at all our regional pair ports that have usual staff that can quickly change up their approach in order to ensure that we're doing that documentation check.

So I don't necessarily have the full picture of whether or not that may have contributed to the issue here.

>>Is that a lesson for potential other regional lockdowns with exactly that same situation at the airport, because it is a gap where people can jump on a plane, and where there could potentially be an outbreak?

>>Yes.

First and foremost, of course, we ask people to actually follow the results and every day people are doing that without having to be stopped, asked and checked.

But yes, one of the things we will need to ensure in the future, if we're using, for any reason, localised lockdowns, just as part of our checks to ensure that we're undertaking some of that at each airport.

Hamilton was a slightly different situation.

We needed those checks because it bordered both an area where no-one should be travelling from but also areas where you can legitimately travel A little bit different for that area because the whole area was in Level 3 mat that time.

>>Last question.

>>You said earlier that the testing result time frames.

published.

The Ministry of Health has been very helpful trying to find it.

But they said it's not centrally storeed?

So are you talking about the results from the various reports?

>>We collect data on a daily basis to see how many tests are outstanding for processing, around the country where it's less than 24 hours, 24-48 hours or over 48 hours.

Happy to get that information to you.

>>And then just again, because we can't get on top of Delta, can we f we're not getting on top of those positive test results quickly enough and getting those people isolated fast enough?

>>Wouldn't suggest, though, that the example that you may legitimately of course have is indicative of the entire system.

I do recall at times we've had individuals raise that we've been waiting some time and we've often identified that there's been an issue simply with the communication in some cases with a GP clinic.

But this is highly abnormal, to have a suggestion that someone has waited five days in that way for a positive test.

I can't say I've heard an example like that before.

OK.

Thanks,