Covid 19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: Grant Robertson and Caroline McElnay front update following Covid escapee fiasco

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson and Director of Public Health Caroline McElnay will give today’s Covid-19 update.

New Zealand notched up 49 new cases of Covid-19 yesterday.

Experts say the figure shows a clear downward trend from the peak of more than 80 cases a day over the weekend – however there are concerns case numbers are not falling fast enough to guarantee Auckland a timely exit from level 4 restrictions.

Professor Shaun Hendy, a Covid-19 modeller at the University of Auckland, has said he wants to see cases “come down faster though, so we can relax alert level 4 as soon as possible”.

National leader Judith Collins is calling on the Government to drop the South Island to alert level 2, noting it had been nearly a year since a positive case was detected in the community there.

“South Island people and businesses are being put under unnecessary stress for no good reason,” Collins said.

“If Wellington, which has had a number of positive cases during the current outbreak, can be at level 3, it seems a major overreaction to have the same alert level in the south, where there have been none.”

Robertson will also have to answer for two recent snags in the Government’s Covid response.

Yesterday, a man with Covid-19 escaped a quarantine facility in Ellerslie in the middle of the night and spend half a day on the run, being arrested in the afternoon.

The Government has faced questions about why it took so long for the Police to be alerted of the escapee, and why Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern did not disclose the incident at yesterday’s 1pm press briefing.

Police were only notified of the escapee at 10.20am yesterday, despite the escapee leaving MIQ 10 hours earlier.

National’s Covid-19 spokesman Chris Bishop called on the Government to investigate why it took so long for the Police and officials to be notified about the escapee.

Robertson will also face questions about a snag for businesses receiving the wage subsidy. Applications for the first round of the wage subsidy closed unexpectedly early last night, despite Government assurances applications would remain open until 11.59pm.

Instead, the website shut off applications yesterday evening.

National’s spokeswoman for social development and employment Louise Upston said MPs began receiving messages from frustrated businesses as early as 8.30pm.

“Last night National MPs were inundated with messages from businesses, some as early as 8.30pm, frustrated to learn applications for the first round had closed early.

“Later in the evening, at about 10.30pm, applications appeared to reopen.”

With Auckland set to be in level 4 until at least September 13, the Government has triggered another round of wage subsidies.

Instead of rolling over businesses already receiving the subsidy, businesses will be required to reapply for another two weeks of subsidy.

“Unlike the scheme that operated in March last year, this Wage Subsidy scheme requires businesses to reapply for each fortnightly payment,” Robertson said.

Robertson said the criteria for this round of wage subsidy will be the same as before.

Businesses must show they expect a 40 per cent decline in revenue to claim the subsidy.


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