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Wednesday September 9: six new community cases

The Ministry of Health says there are six new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today, all in the community.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says they are all linked to the Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship Church group.

He says all members of the church group are being asked to be re-tested, even if they have no symptoms.

Four of the new cases are part of the group of 14 that are associated with a new event, a series of bereavement activities, that are linked to the Mt Roskill cluster, Dr Bloomfield says.

He said all close contacts of the group are in self-isolation.

One of the cases reported yesterday is a student at St Dominic's Catholic College who attended school last Friday, Dr Bloomfield said. He added that a testing regime is being set up for the school and information on the testing will be provided by the Auckland Regional Public Health (ARPHS).

Another case reported yesterday is a driver on the Northern Express bus service who was driving last Thursday and Friday. He was not symptomatic, Dr Bloomfield says.

He says while the driver didn't come into close contact with passengers, the Ministry of Health is using HOP card data to contact passengers who caught the bus the driver was on.

ARPHS has put out details of the bus journeys.

They confirmed there are no close contacts from the bus trips on Thursday 3 and Friday 4 September, from 5.30am to 1pm, and 4pm to 6.15pm.

They also say the driver was not symptomatic, and wore a mask and gloves while on shift.

"Passengers did not interact with the driver and used the rear door to board and exit the bus. They were seated 2 metres away from the driver as the front seats were blocked off because of social distancing measures. There were no cash transactions and passengers used AT HOP cards."

Since 11 August, there have been 3346 close contacts identified and 3305 have been been contacted and are self-isolating, Dr Bloomfield says.

He says there are now 74 people linked to the Auckland community cluster who remain in the Auckland quarantine facility, that includes 58 of those who have tested positive for Covid-19.

Four people are in hospital around the country, two are stable and in isolation on a ward at North Shore Hospital, two are in ICU, one at North Shore and one at Waikato hospital.

Total number of active Covid-19 cases is 125. Of those, 43 are imported cases in managed isolation and now in quarantine and 82 are from the community. Total number of confirmed cases is 1437.

There were 8363 Covid-19 tests processed yesterday, the grand total is 831,517.

Dr Bloomfield says early on when the Public Health Unit was engaging with the Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship, there was some reluctance from some of the members to participate in testing, however, that was overcome when the PHU worked with the Māori and Pacific teams at the DHB.

Since links into the community were established, testing has been at a high level, he says.

Dr Bloomfield says some members of the Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship cluster had a meeting after the level 3 lockdown had started. The police asked them to disperse.

He says it is not possible to say whether Covid was spread because of the meeting held by some members of the Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship in alert level 3.

Dr Bloomfield says he had not heard of members of the Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship refusing to enter quarantine when asked by a journalist.

There are now 2,161,200 registered users of the Covid Tracer app, Dr Bloomfield says.

He says a new update on the app will be released today and will scan the QR codes faster.

Diary entries in the app will stay in the system for 60 days, up from 31.

On the Rydges Hotel worker case, Dr Bloomfield says it is now closed and the most likely cause of transmission has been deemed as the elevator theory previously reported by the Ministry.

Yesterday there were six new cases of Covid-19, four in the community and two in managed isolation.

Today, Health Minister Chris Hipkins revealed that two of those cases appear to have been omitted as close contacts in the contact tracing process.

Hipkins said the current community outbreak of Covid-19 is close to being completely contained.

The latest positive case - that of a student at a Henderson girls' college - has brought the total number of cases in the Auckland cluster to 165.

Hipkins said there it's likely to be some time before community cases are stamped out.