The two new community cases of Covid-19 have the same South African strain of the virus as the Northland woman infected at the Pullman Hotel, and initial results show the three cases are connected.
While health officials work to conduct extensive testing in light of the new cases, decisions around events over the Auckland Anniversary Day and Waitangi Day long weekends will be made in the coming days based on advice from the Ministry of Health.
The two new cases are an adult and a child, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed this morning, and they had twice tested negative for the virus before being released into the community. The infected pair had not moved far since returning to their home after being in managed isolation, but the Ministry of Health has still identified a list of locations of interest around Auckland's North Shore that the pair visited from January 17 to January 26.
Hipkins said that it was unlikely there would be a change in alert levels at this point "but everything is always under review". Auckland Mayor Phil Goff followed up by saying it would be "premature to go into lockdown now".
"It's the last resort. If we need to do it, we'd have to do it but nobody wants to do it and nobody sees that in being critical in the absence of evidence that there has been wider spread in the community by these cases," Goff said.
Goff reiterated that there was no word yet from public health authorities to stay home over the upcoming long weekends. "At this point it not deemed necessary."
The Sounds Like Summer Festival, due to take place in Omaha on Sunday, has been already been postponed. Organisers say that, after getting advice from the Ministry of Health, it was in the best interest of everyone to postpone. More than 1500 people were expected to attend.
While other organisers wait for advice from the Ministry of Health, Goff is urging Aucklanders to continue scanning with the NZ Covid Tracer app, turn on the Bluetooth tracing function, and practise good hygiene.
"I understand that this is unsettling and not how any of us wanted to start 2021," Goff said last night.
"We had hoped to leave Covid-19 behind in 2020 but the reality is that we will be at risk from the virus for some time yet. As the gateway city for New Zealand, the chance of another outbreak was always present.
"Aucklanders, out of anyone in the country, know how to beat this virus – we have done it multiple times and we are going to do it again."
Goff reminded Aucklanders that masks on public transport are mandatory and that people should stay home and get a test if they feel sick.