Covid-19 coronavirus: Two new community cases – Chris Hipkins

There are two new Covid-19 cases in the community, Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins says.

They are both students, one is a close contact of the student. The other is the sibling of the new case, Hipkins says.

Officials were looking into this but it’s still “early information”.

In terms of what that means, Hipkins said these cases have a known link to the known cases.

He said the Government has been able to contain new cases in the past, when the source has been known.

But he is not preempting Cabinet’s decision this afternoon on alert levels.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will front a press conference at 4:30 pm and outlineCabinet’s call.

Meanwhile, officials are looking at “every potential opportunity these could have been for infection.”

The “big wave of testing” is designed to find out if there are any more Covid-19 positive people in the community.

Meanwhile, he said the Pullman is back in operation but at 50 per cent capacity.

Hipkins is providing an overview at a select committee of what has been done so far to contain the latest community cases, as well as what the plan is for the coming weeks.

He is also likely to go into detail about the new measures the Government has undertaken with MIQ facilities.

Director-general of Health Ashely Bloomfield is at the committee too.

These changes include: Air filtration systems in all facility lifts are being replaced, CCTV systems has been upgraded and people’s movements have been further limited.

After Hipkins’ opening remarks, he will take questions from MPs.

National’s health spokesman Shane Reti is likely to be the first to question the minister.

Over the last few days, National has said the Government has done the right thing by putting Auckland at alert level 3 and the rest of the country at level 2.

But they have been zoned in on the issue of saliva testing.

Reti says this method should be mandatory and done every day to people in MIQ.

But, speaking in the House yesterday, Hipkins said this method was already being used in tandem with the nasal swaps.

However, he said saliva testing was not as accurate as the current method and would not be used by itself as a means of testing.

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