There are two new cases of Covid-19 today, one confirmed and one probable, the Ministry of Health said in a statement.

Both cases are linked to the St Margaret's Hospital & Rest Home in Auckland.

The confirmed case is a household contact of a previously confirmed case linked to the cluster.

The probable case is a nurse employed by Waitematā District Health Board who has been in self-isolation and is now regarded a probable case. Both new cases remain in self-isolation at home.

Advertisement

The nurse had been looking after St Margaret's patients at Waitākere Hospital and was among the close contacts of other positive cases announced previously.

Affected areas at Waitākere Hospital remain closed to further admissions and multiple precautions have been in place over the last week.

The number of case numbers today and tomorrow will be of particular interest to inform Cabinet's decision on Monday about changing to alert level 2.

There are 1368 people who have recovered, which is 92 per cent of all confirmed and probable cases – an increase of 21 on yesterday.

There are two people in hospital – one each in Middlemore and North Shore hospitals. Neither is in ICU.

There are still 16 significant clusters, four of which are now considered closed.

There are no additional deaths to report.

The low number of new cases came despite 7204 tests processed yesterday, which brings the total number of tests completed to date to 183,039.

Advertisement

This equated to 3.5 per cent of the population and put New Zealand in the top 20 countries per capita for testing, the ministry said.

New Zealand remains at alert level 3, and Cabinet will make a decision on moving to alert level 2 on Monday.

"The ministry's advice remains to play it safe as no-one wants a second wave. Keep working and learning from home. Keep your distance from others when outside your bubble. Parties are still not on. Remain local, travel only within your region."

There was no Government press conference today. The Health Ministry released the latest Covid-19 case numbers about 1pm.

There are 47 cases in the St Margaret's cluster, 26 of whom have recovered. The origin of transmission is currently listed as unknown.

Waitematā DHB this week dropped a policy that allowed staff on a ward with Covid-19 patients from St Margaret's aged-care home to also work shifts in other areas of Waitākere Hospital.

READ MORE:
Audrey Young: Jacinda Ardern's AAA minister oversees a Budget like no other
Covid 19 coronavirus: Airlines and foreign governments given only one hour's notice of dramatic decision to effectively close borders
Covid 19 coronavirus: Dr Ashley Bloomfield on masks, 'gold standard' tracing, and if we can hug at level 2
Covid 19 coronavirus: Live - Government dumps thousands of pages of official Covid papers

The DHB confirmed to the Herald earlier this week that some staff who helped care for the residents remaining at the St Margaret's facility in Te Atatu also worked shifts at its hospitals.

"Staffing a non-DHB facility on top of our normal obligations was complex and all efforts were made to maintain an exclusive staffing arrangement for the sake of consistency and stability," a spokesman told the Herald on Wednesday.

"Some of our staff did work separate shifts at Waitematā DHB, particularly in the early period."

This approach had been agreed as appropriate by clinical leaders from Auckland and Northland DHBs, the spokesman said, and was taken with precautions including use of personal protective equipment (PPE), physical distancing in the workplace and strict hand hygiene.

St Margaret's notified health authorities of its first case in early April. Later that month nursing staff were sent to the facility to help, and on April 17 ambulances took the first lot of residents to Waitākere Hospital. Three of that group would later die.

Last week the DHB announced three nurses who worked on the ward where St Margaret's patients were treated had tested positive for Covid-19. The nurses had worked shifts on other wards, despite health and safety representatives raising concerns with management about staff moving between Covid and non-Covid wards.

The two new cases today are in addition to a nurse who was a confirmed case yesterday, all three of them linked to the St Margaret's cluster.

It is day 12 of alert level 3, and yesterday there were two new cases of Covid-19 - though one was a probable case changed to a confirmed case.

That meant the total of confirmed and probable cases rose by one yesterday to 1490.

The new confirmed case was a nurse, who is being cared for at North Shore Hospital and has been in self-isolation.

Video will play in
Play now
Don't auto play

Never auto play
PM Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand can take heart from there being no new coronavirus cases today. But she says it reflects the success of the lockdown rather than actions during level three.

The nurse had been looking after St Margaret's patients at Waitākere Hospital and was among close contacts of another positive case announced last week.

Affected areas at Waitākere Hospital remain closed to further admissions and multiple precautions have been in place over the past week.

Subscribe to Premium

Cabinet will decide on Monday whether the country is ready to move to level 2, based on the advice of director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield.

Bloomfield has said he will need the latest data before providing advice, but for the moment the signs were good and there was still no indication of widespread community transmission.