Government weighs up Covid-19 alert level change after community case in Auckland

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Aucklanders will learn today if the government is to impose any changes to Covid-19 alert levels.

The usually bustling Queen Street in Auckland during level 3 lockdown.

Auckland’s Queen Street in August (file). Auckland CBD workers are being asked to stay home today if they can, while authorities investigate a new mystery community case in the city. Photo: RNZ / Amy Williams

The decision comes off the back of a mystery community transmission case in the city’s CBD. The AUT student in her 20s became symptomatic on Monday and was tested on Tuesday, but having called in sick went to work wearing a mask after speaking with her manager, health officials said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern flew from Auckland to Wellington yesterday. She will inform the country today if alert level settings need to change.

Auckland CBD workers are being asked to stay home today if they can, while those who can’t work from home are being asked to wear a mask and physically distance.

Minister of Education and Covid-19 Response Chris Hipkins said the advice to schools, tertiary providers and students was to go ahead with sitting exams.

“Having sat plenty of exams of my own in my time, I can tell you the spacing around people generally will be a significant factor in reducing risk of transmission in any of those settings,” he said.

Genomic testing on the community case is due back today after it was sent to the ESR in Wellington.

“Once we get that, we will be able to identify whether there is a clear match with any recent positive cases in our managed isolation facilities,” Hipkins said.

“If there is, that’s a very big piece of the puzzle that will certainly help our decisions on the next steps from here.”

The University of Auckland has moved all Friday’s scheduled exams online.

Auckland Central MP wants employers to take note of recent case

Auckland Central MP Chloe Swarbrick wants employers to heed the warning from the latest Covid-19 case in the community.

Swarbrick said she still did not know exactly what was said during the conversation between the student and her manager before the woman went into work in the CBD but would seek to find out the full story.

However she noted in general that workers rights had been eroded for too long.

Green Party MP Chloe Swarbrick

Green Party MP Chloe Swarbrick. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

“I hope that more employers, more managers are thinking very carefully about the safety of their staff, but also of their customers and the country.

“For those who may have been skating close to the edge to date, I hope that this is a wake-up call.”

Aucklanders would understandably be feeling both anxious and possibly frustrated with the latest developments, she said.

“At moments like these it is incredibly important we focus on the public health of all of us, that means recognition of the fact that we are only as strong as our most vulnerable.”

She said residents, local businesses and associations had contacted her with questions, which she has followed-up with the prime minister’s office.

Auckland waterfront.

Auckland CBD. Photo: Unsplash / Tim Marshall

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