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The Government is pushing ahead with its trials of a bluetooth technology to better trace Covid-19 outbreaks despite one of its backers, Sam Morgan, pulling out.
It comes as the Ministry of Health revealed 14 new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand yesterday - nine in managed isolation and quarantine hotels (MIQ) and five in the community.
The numbers are the highest since August 13, when 14 were also recorded. The last time daily cases topped that mark was on April 16, when there were 15 cases.
Morgan yesterday disbanded his team working on the CovidCard over frustrations saying there was "no capability or commitment within the Ministry of Health to do it".
"There is, in fact, active resistance and has been since we began."
The TradeMe founder pulled together a group of epidemiologists and private sector tech leaders which designed and developed the technology and oversaw a successful trial in Nelson in May.
The technology is built into something the size of a swipe card and is worn around the neck like a lanyard. It registers which other cards it comes near and helps speed-up contact tracing after someone tests positive.
Morgan believes for about $100 million (or around $20 per person), every New Zealander could be issued with a CovidCard within five months.
But Morgan announced he'd pulled his team from the project because he'd become frustrated with the Government's progress - "it will never go anywhere" without a dedicated and well-led group, he said.
"You can't just put a dozen mid-level Government project managers and comms people on this and have it happen. You need actual technology people, well-led, with a mandate. Senior people need to engage," Morgan said.
"This is just another thing ministers say is happening but it is not."
But Communications Minister Kris Faafoi said he disagreed with almost everything Morgan said and that the Government didn't need the TradeMe founder's team.
Another trial of the CovidCard is due to happen in Rotorua with about 300 people at the end of September and is due to report to Cabinet by the end of October. A decision on whether to deploy the CovidCard more widely will be made before the end of the year.
Another trial in a managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facility is due to start in the next two or three weeks.
"We're committed to put the card, as proposed, through its paces. We're not going to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer money on something that isn't tested," said Faafoi.
He said they didn't know how New Zealanders would respond to CovidCards so it needed to be tested before being rolled out. He believed Morgan was frustrated because the Government hadn't yet made the decision to commit to it.
"I know Sam's frustrated but I can't control Sam's feelings on a day-to-day basis.
"Taxpayers deserve to know if we're going to roll it out it's going to work."
The number of active cases is 132. Of those, 33 are imported cases in MIQ facilities, and 99 are community cases.
The Auckland cluster now has 146 cases linked to it.
Meanwhile, the second round of testing MIQ workers is due to be finished by the end of the week with no one yet returning a positive test.
Woods said that the current cluster does not seem to have come from an MIQ facility, based on the genomic sequencing results so far.
She said the Rydges maintenance worker case had been closed and it's most likely that he caught Covid-19 from using the elevator at the hotel shortly after a Covid-positive case had used it.
Webb said cleaning protocols had been improved to make the facilities as safe as they could be.
"Hand sanitiser is an absolute key requirement and used every time someone uses a lift."
Woods said there was a two-minute interval between them using the lift.