Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern assures Aucklanders shift in alert levels still on the cards

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Caroline McElnay "cautiously optimistic" Auckland will move to level 3.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Caroline McElnay "cautiously optimistic" Auckland will move to level 3. Photo credit: Image - Getty Images

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has reassured Aucklanders that a shift to level 3 is still possible even with a slight spike in cases over the last two days. 

The Ministry of Health announced 24 new community cases of COVID-19 on Sunday with three of them under investigation and currently unlinked. This is four more than the 20 cases announced on Saturday. 

This takes the total outbreak to 1050 cases with 688 people recovered including all 17 in Wellington. 

The PM will make an announcement on Auckland’s alert level on Monday but stressed even with a slight increase in cases the feeling is it’s just from Delta having a “long tail”.

“I think what you would have heard us describe today is of those cases today,” Ardern said at the daily 1pm press conference.

“We've got one with a tentative link, which we are working through, then another two who are waiting for interviews. 

“Then yesterday you would've heard us run through the linkages for those cases. So really what we are seeing is the ongoing ramifications of Delta being highly infectious and infecting people across households sometimes in a domino effect.  

“We might have had a positive case days and days ago then slowly those family members become infected come through as positive cases. I know that makes people anxious when they see those numbers but they don't always tell the full story but it does tell us that Delta's tail is long and hard.

Director of Public Health Caroline McElnay continued with the positive talk backing up her message that her team is quietly confident that the outbreak is under control.

"We will be preparing advice today, which looks at an outbreak as a whole and as I said on Friday, we are still cautiously optimistic that the vast bulk of this outbreak is under control, we are just dealing with a long tail,” McElnay says. 

When asked about Aucklanders feeling over lockdowns as they come to the end of their fifth week in level 4, Ardern assured the public they take into account how Aucklanders are coping with restrictions when making a decision on alert levels. 

"We take into account everything," Ardern says. "The one thing I would say to Aucklanders is that your work has paid off. As you've heard from our public health advisors, they consider this outbreak is under control and don't have large-scale community transmission in Auckland and that has been because of level 4 and the work people have done. 

“So level 4 has played an incredibly important role in getting this outbreak under control. Yes we still have cases popping up  and there is still work for us to do but we will take all the advice on the best way we can do that from here. 

“But we absolutely factor in how Aucklanders are coping with some of the restrictions they've had to date but also the best way to get back to normal as quickly as we can.