Tuesday 31 August, 1pm

49 new cases have been identified today, all in Auckland. It brings the total number of community cases to 611 - 15 in Wellington and 596 in Auckland.

Today’s total daily case count is the lowest in the past six days. Health Director General Dr Ashley Bloomfield said that showed public health restrictions were working to slow the spread of the virus.

33 people are also in hospital, including eight in the ICU or high dependency unit. Two people are on ventilators. 

Bloomfield also said six cases were babies aged under 1. It is a sobering reminder of the severity of the virus, he said. 

A further breakdown of yesterday’s 53 new cases was also provided. 66 percent of the cases are household contacts of existing cases, rather than from exposures in the community, Bloomfield said. Further 77 percent of those cases did not create “any exposure event” , implying they’ve been isolating since lockdown began or since being identified as a contact. 

This means the risk of potential new chains of transmission is reduced, Bloomfield said. 

Overall, it means 23 percent of yesterday’s new cases are considered to have been infectious in the community, compared with 30 percent the day before and 35 percent the day before that.

Those cases may have been visiting supermarkets or at a health provider, or an essential worker, he said.

Bloomfield also said the reproduction rate of the virus in the current outbreak remains less than one, which means the number of new cases each day should continue to decline as chains of transmission are broken. 

In regards to testing, 16,755 tests were processed yesterday - most of which were in Auckland. A number of those tests were also day 12 tests for contacts of cases. Bloomfield said the high rate of testing was important to identifying all Covid cases in the community. 

Further, a full list of the locations of interest is available here at the Ministry of Health site. 

Shift to alert level 3 for everywhere south of Auckland

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern went over the restrictions which would come into play for areas other than Auckland and Northland at midnight. 

"It still requires a high degree of caution because the risk of covid in the community remains high."

At level three, bubbles remain in place, however there is opportunity for those who need help with care in their bubbles to bring in another family member or bubble individual. 

It must remain small and exclusive, Ardern said. 

And while more businesses are allowed to operate if they comply with contactless requirements, contact outside of bubbles is only permitted at level 2. 

"Contactless delivery and pickups can occur but also staff and customers are now legally required to wear a mask for those outwardly facing businesses such as supermarkets, pharmacies, butchers, green grocers, takeaways and petrol stations," Ardern said.

Everyone is also encouraged to wear a mask when they're out and about. Staying at home and continuing to work from home if possible is also in place at alert level 3. Further, only the children of essential workers are permitted to go back to school and only if there are no other options for parents. 

Funerals, tangihanga and weddings are only allowed for up to 10 people. Other public gatherings, including sports and faith-based events are not permitted. 

Public venues like gyms, cinemas, libraries, playgrounds and markets will remain closed. Travel is also largely restricted to work purposes, and exercise should continue to take place in areas local to your bubble. Moving across the boundary south of Auckland - which will come into place at 11.59pm - will be strictly limited and patrolled.

A full list of the rules is available here at the Covid-19 site

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