Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Mt Maunganui’s Uppercrust Bakery and BP Tauriko linked to person with virus

A bakery in Mt Maunganui has been linked to a person with Covid-19.

The Uppercrust Bakery Mt Maunganui, at 504 Maunganui Rd, has been identified as a location of interest this morning – as has the BP Tauriko.

Uppercrust Bakery owner John-Paul van der Meys said finding out the store was a location of interest was “a massive shock”.

“We haven’t even recovered from the last lockdown and now we have to stay locked down again for another 14 days,” he said.

“We found out about 4.15pm yesterday. We’re obviously close contacts so everyone in our households is a casual contact. We have to self-isolate until we get out day five test back.

“It’s a huge hit [for the business]. Literally, we get no time to prepare to close, everything was ready to go for today and all my staff are close contacts so we can’t even go in and do a deep clean until after our 14 days.”

Two of the four staff van der Meys employs are immunocompromised, so they had all been particularly careful around following Ministry of Health guidelines leading up to this.

“Going by a few places I’ve visited, we’re a hell of a lot more strict than everywhere else. [When open] we were taking every step to keep us safe, as well as our staff and we have a newborn baby at home.

“We know how Delta is pretty effective at spreading so we’ve been keeping as safe as we can. I’m pretty sure me and my girls are safe, we’ll do our bit and stay home and clean up the mess when we’re allowed.

“We have a great customer base so I’m looking forward to seeing them all when we’re back open and trading. We’re hoping for September 30.”

The first visit by a Covid-positive person was on Saturday, September 11, between 10.10am to 12.05pm.

The second visit was three days ago, on Tuesday.

The affected time is between 9.55am and 11.50am.

A petrol station in Tauranga is also now a location of interest.

The BP Tauriko, at 1 Taurikura Drive, was visited by someone with Covid on Saturday, September 11, between 7.45am and 9.15am.

Auckland eyes move out of level 4

Auckland reported 13 new cases on Thursday, with one yet to be linked to the outbreak, including another patient at Middlemore Hospital.

The new cases also included a truck driver who tested positive after crossing Auckland’s alert level 4 border.

There were also five cases from the previous day that had created exposure events.

“Lifting the restrictions is like lifting a wet blanket, and those embers underneath, the unlinked case, could begin to ignite and expand rapidly,” epidemiologist Dr Michael Baker said.

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While 13 cases is much lower than the outbreak peak of 83, that peak was nearly three weeks ago. In the past two weeks case numbers have fluctuated between 11 and 33, with a very slight downward trend.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has signalled Auckland would likely move down to level 3 restrictions next Wednesday, though Cabinet would be making its final decision on Monday.

Cabinet Minister David Parker says Auckland was looking good to move out of level 4 next week, though it’s not definite.

Speaking to the AM Show, he said Cabinet had not set a target on what proportion of New Zealanders would need to be vaccinated so the country could stop using lockdowns.

“The higher the percentage the better and we don’t want to put a target,” that would let people ease off once it was reached.

National’s Simon Bridges didn’t have a percentage either but said one should be set “so we can have a freer economy and society”.

Asked how many deaths would be acceptable, he said “obviously we don’t want to see any of that”.

Bridges said the recent poll was not good for National but it was just “one poll” and there were things the country should be talking about such as job losses.

Bridges said he wanted to be “categorical” that he was not having conversations with people about a leadership change.

“National shouldn’t overreact to a poll,” Bridges said.

Parker had no advice on when National should change leader.

“All parties suffer declines,” he said. “It does take a long time to come back from something like this but hope springs eternal.”

Baker said the “long tail” didn’t show level 4 was not working, just that under Delta the small weaknesses were more greatly exposed, such as with essential workers, people leaving their homes to get supplies and at hospitals – all sites of recent cases.

Working in the city’s favour though was the “incredible work” being done in areas like community testing and boosting vaccination levels.

“I think we really are at the brink of stamping this outbreak out and it is possible under current settings. And those vaccination rates will soon be at levels that will be having an effect.

“The question is if we move too fast and don’t stamp it out completely there could be a huge downside, meaning we might be in level 2 and level 3 all summer, like what they are experiencing in New South Wales.

“If we lose control of Auckland it will affect the entire country.”

Covid modeller Professor Shaun Hendy said this “long tail” was not unexpected and had occurred in previous outbreaks.

“What is concerning is that it’s Delta, and the tail still contains relatively high numbers.”

While the case numbers had plateaued, there was a steady decline in unlinked cases and exposure events.

“The cases of concern have dropped quite a bit, so there is some cause for optimism.”

Still, Hendy said a move down alert levels for Auckland from Wednesday was looking like a risky decision.

“If we really wanted to play it safe we would stick at alert level 4 a couple more weeks, however it has been a long period and people need to see some progress so they might be prepared to take a risk at this stage.

“Moving to level 3 definitely comes with the risk of needing to go back to level 4, but it is unlikely we would see an explosion of cases.”

Strong economic growth before lockdown

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson this morning told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking there hadn’t been quarterly growth for more than a decade.

He said while forecasters were cautious the numbers showed the economy doing well in the regions.

“It’s a sign of the resilience of the New Zealand economy and when we get out of this outbreak we’ll see it again.”

“I appreciate the game changed on the 17th of August but this does show that the December quarter should be a good one,” Robertson said.

Robertson said New Zealand businesses would bounce back.With Auckland set to drop down to an alert level next week up to 85 per cent of business would resume, he said.

On businesses closing and opening,Robertson said through the Covid period there didn’t appear to be as many closures as he expected. He said construction and the service industry continued to show solid growth.

On the latest levels of quarterly growth, Robertson said the country hadn’t seen a similar rise in quarter growth since 1999 with the exception of the September bounce last year.

He said forecasters who were predicting a lower level of quarterly growth, were doing so because they hadn’t seen movement like this for some time.

“I know anecdotally in the period running into this outbreak as I was going around the country talking to businesses there was an awful lot happening right across the board, construction through to service industries and it was really obvious to me out and about seeing it,” said Robertson.

While there was debt, there was “real growth”.

He said supply constraints were the number one gripe of businesses but there remained a “very solid strain of resilience and growth” which was really encouraging.

Robertson told Hosking as we exited the outbreak restrictions it was possible that a large portion of the country could sit at alert level 1 while Auckland was on alert level 2.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern poured cold water on any hopes of a move to level 1 outside Auckland next week, stating such a move could not occur while there were any Delta cases in the community.

However, she said if Cabinet decided to adopt its in-principle decision to move Auckland down to level 3 from midnight Tuesday, the rest of the country could shift from the more restrictive “Delta 2” settings to the original level 2.

This shift would allow gathering sizes to increase to 100 from 50, which many hospitality businesses have said was too small to be economical.

Ardern said aside from compulsory QR scanning, alert level 1 settings would remain the same following the Delta outbreak.

Ardern also said the Government was doing a wider review of alert level settings factoring in higher vaccination rates.

Thursday’s cases took the outbreak total to 996, including 536 active community cases. There are 10 cases over the past fortnight not yet linked to the outbreak.

The truck driver testing positive comes as today all permitted travellers across the Auckland boundary must show proof they have been tested once a week.

Associate Minister of Health Peeni Henare told TVNZ’s Breakfast programme says investigations continue into the movements of a truck driver who has tested positive for Covid-19.

“This is one of the cases where we’re glad we found it and we’re putting a ring around it.”

Henare said the truck driver is waiting to go into a managed isolation and quarantine facility. The driver’s close contacts are also being tested for Covid.

The minister said unlinked cases kept him and many other politicians up at night.

Asked about any locations the truck driver may have visited, Henare said he could not say as the investigation into those sites was still underway.

He, therefore, did not want to cause alarm if the driver had limited contact with a particular place.

National Party Covid spokesman Chris Bishop said the truck driver case showed why rapid antigen testing was needed daily at the Auckland boundary for essential workers.

On Wednesday 100,000 rapid test kits arrived in the country and will be used at international airports and Middlemore Hospital, but not the Auckland boundary.

“Weekly testing for essential workers crossing the Auckland boundary is just not good enough,” Bishop said

“Delta moves so quickly that a worker could spend six days with Covid-19 and infect potentially thousands of people in that time before they have to go and get a nasal PCR or saliva PCR test.”

Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson says he is proud to see the new vaccination buses rolling out and says it is an initiative that will help Māori, Pacific and working-class people who cannot otherwise get to a vaccination clinic.

“Our community is responding,” he told TVNZ’s Breakfast programme.

Speaking about the low vaccination rates among Māori, Jackson said there are different factors at play he acknowledged people need to remember.

“You’re not comparing apples with apples.”

Among some Māori, for example, he said there remained an ongoing resentment against the Government – whether it be Labour or National – and a mistrust associated with the Crown.

Some people, therefore, were very anti-vaccinations, he told Breakfast.

Despite that, Jackson said yesterday’s roll-out of the vaccination buses was a great thing.

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