Ministry of Health Covid-19 update
August 4, 2020
There are no new cases of Covid-19 to report in New Zealand today.
It has been 95 days since the last case of Covid-19 was acquired locally from an unknown source.
Five previously reported cases are now considered to have recovered, bringing the number of active cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation facilities in New Zealand to 22.
New Zealand’s total number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 remains at 1217, which is the number we report to the World Health Organization.
There is no one in New Zealand receiving hospital-level care for Covid-19.
Yesterday our laboratories processed 1608 tests. There were 383 swabs taken in managed isolation and quarantine facilities yesterday.
This morning WHO Director-General Dr Tedros has emphasised that while a number of vaccines are in clinical trials there is currently no silver bullet for Covid-19.
The message from the WHO is very clear – stopping outbreaks of this virus comes down to public health basics and disease control.
We are intercepting and isolating cases of Covid-19 at our border – but we need good baseline testing rates among people working at our border and in our communities each day so we can remain confident we have no community transmission in New Zealand.
A single case outside of managed isolation could rapidly infect many other people and turn into a widespread outbreak as we have seen occur overseas. Many places that had Covid-19 under control have quickly found themselves in the middle of a resurgence. We have worked too hard to be where we are to let that happen.
While testing numbers in our communities are on the increase, we want to see even higher rates of testing. Ideally every person who has Covid-19 related symptoms will get a test. That will be complemented by specific surveillance testing like the pop-up clinic at the PaknSave in Queenstown which had more than 400 people through by midday today.
Thank you to all those staff there and those that have come forward to be tested as part of our collective efforts.
Public attitudes and behaviours
Research conducted by the All of Government team supports our view that many people with symptoms of Covid-19 are now not getting tested.
The survey of 800 New Zealanders was conducted in late July.
Just under half of those with symptoms decided not to get tested, with three quarters of those saying that they didn’t think they had Covid-19.
If you have cold or flu symptoms, please seek advice from Healthline or your GP on getting a test for Covid-19. If they recommend a test, please have one. You will be helping ensure your friends, family, community and country are kept safe.
The survey also showed that the majority of respondents (65 per cent of adults and 80 per cent of children) stayed home when they were sick, until they were completely well, which is the right thing to do.
Aged Residential Care (ARC) Action Plan
The Ministry of Health has released its Action Plan to address the recommendations made in the Independent Review of Covid-19 Clusters in Aged Residential Care (ARC) Facilities Report.
From the New Zealand and international experience, we know that the consequences can be deadly if Covid-19 gains a foothold in aged residential care facilities – 16 of New Zealand’s 22 Covid-related deaths have occurred in these settings.
In April Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield commissioned an independent review into New Zealand’s ARC facilities to understand what was going well and what could be improved.
The review, which was published in June 2020, included a number of recommendations to further strengthen New Zealand’s response to Covid-19 within the aged care sector.
Specific actions in the Plan released today include:
* the development of a National Outbreak Management Policy
* the development of a Pandemic Management Workbook
The Ministry is partnering with key agencies to deliver the Action Plan and ensure we are each working to our strengths to deliver better and safer care to New Zealanders.
We must retain sight of the need for continued vigilance as Covid-19 continues to spread in other parts of the world.
Dr Bloomfield today thanked the ARC sector again for their hard work and dedication as they worked to ensure the safety of New Zealand’s elderly during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dr Bloomfield said he had heard many stories of the workforce providing care to the elderly, in each case an acknowledgement of workers going above and beyond the call of duty.
Progress of the Action Plan will be published on the Ministry of Health’s website.