Grant Robertson confirms there 'is no plan to move alert levels' despite community COVID-19 cases

Grant Robertson confirms there 'is no plan to move alert levels' despite community COVID-19 cases
Photo credit: Getty

Senior Labour MP Grant Robertson has confirmed there are no plans to change the current alert level settings despite a small community outbreak of COVID-19. 

The Ministry of Health reported two new community cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday linked to the port worker whose positive test result was reported on Sunday. 

But despite new cases of coronavirus popping up - and revelations the port worker travelled between Auckland and New Plymouth - Robertson told Magic Talk on Thursday the Government has no plans to bring in restrictions. 

"At this point, no," Robertson said. "We feel that the situation is under control but we are monitoring it extremely closely and this is where the contact tracing system swings into action."

Robertson pointed out that the port worker's close contacts have mostly come back negative so far but acknowledged that there is need for the country to be vigilant. 

Infection via the Sofrana Surville container ship that stopped off in Auckland this month continues to be the most likely hypothesis of the spread but the Ministry of Health is also revisiting the theory in light of the new cases.

Authorities said on Wednesday a positive case visited The Malt in Greenhithe on Friday night and everyone who was there from 7:30pm until 10pm has been asked to self-isolate and get tested. 

Rangitoto College has been informed of a COVID-19 case within a school family but the Auckland Regional Public Health Service says there is "very little risk"

Robertson says it's all under control for now, "We feel the situation is under control and there is no plan to move alert levels."

University of Otago infectious disease expert David Murdoch told The AM Show on Thursday "incursions" like this are to be expected, but the tracing system is doing its job.

"It's a concern to hear that a contact may have been in a crowded pub - the indoor crowd situation is one we get concerned about because it can lead to further transmission." 

He said while no one wants to see any cases in New Zealand, "that's just not going to happen". 

"We will occasionally see cases come through the border. We just have to have the system to respond. You could argue that what we're seeing is the system working."

But concerns have been raised about the low usage of the NZ COVID Tracer app. Ministry of Health data shows how the number of daily QR code scans has fallen since the Auckland August outbreak. 

"The purpose of contact tracing is to ensure outbreaks can be traced and isolated without the need for deadening lockdowns. It appears with the NZ COVID Tracer app, we are relying on manual contact tracing, and luck," said ACT leader David Seymour. 

Robertson said the Government is still trialling Bluetooth technology solutions and that in the meantime Kiwis need to step up and use the technology currently available. 

"We've been doing trials around Bluetooth cards and so on and that work continues. But there is a time here for New Zealanders to take personal responsibility. Most of us have downloaded that app onto the phone and we've just got to use it," he said. 

"The Government will continue to do the work we're doing but ultimately, that app exists right now and people have got to get into the habit of using it when they visit businesses and pubs and so on. They've all got the QR codes up - they have to do that - now it's up to all of us to make sure we use the technology that is currently available."