National | Covid-19 Testing

101 new Covid cases as Ardern to announce traffic light changes

The Ministry of Health is reporting 101 new Covid-19 cases in the community today, taking the outbreak total to 9814.

Of these new cases, 97 are in Auckland and one each in Bay of Plenty (in Tauranga), Taranaki, Nelson-Marlborough and Canterbury (in Christchurch) regions.

The case in Christchurch is a household member of previously reported cases and was already in a managed isolation facility when they tested positive.

Both the Taranaki and Nelson cases were first announced over the weekend but are being officially included in the case numbers today.

There are also two cases detected at the border and both are in managed isolation.

This is the last set of data before the cabinet confirms whether regions will change their traffic light status. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will make the announcements today from the Beehive at 4pm.

In hospitalisations, there are 61 people receiving hospital-level care. Some 13 of these are in North Shore, 19 in Auckland, 25 in Middlemore, two in Waikato and two in Tauranga.

People in intensive care have now risen to four from yesterday's reported three. Two are in Auckland and one each are in Middlemore and North Shore hospitals, with the average age of hospitalisations 50 years of age.

Health and welfare providers are now supporting 2,746 people to isolate at home, including 709 cases, in Auckland.

Rapid antigen testing 

From this Wednesday, the ministry says rapid antigen testing will be available for free at participating pharmacies for asymptomatic unvaccinated people aged 12 years and three months and over who are travelling during the holiday period.

Evidence of a supervised negative rapid antigen test will be required for unvaccinated travellers leaving the Auckland region and for domestic travel with some transport companies.

As of this morning, 483 pharmacies across the motu have opted in to provide these supervised tests. Of these, 138 are in the Auckland region with a total of 345 in the North Island and 138 in the South Island. Participating pharmacies can be found on the Healthpoint website – under 'Supervised rapid antigen testing for travel' under Covid-19 Testing.

While some pharmacies will accept walk-ins, the ministry says bookings are recommended, and also says that it is for people who do not have Covid-19 symptoms.

While rapid antigen tests will at times give false-positive results, the ministry says any unvaccinated people who receive a positive rapid antigen test result will be strongly advised to seek a confirmatory PCR test. Furthermore, they won’t be able to travel without a negative PCR test result so please plan ahead to allow sufficient time to get tested and receive their result.