Two major sub-clusters emerge as Covid outbreak grows

Source: 1News

As New Zealand's Covid-19 outbreak worsens, two prominent sub-clusters have begun to emerge. 

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 18: People are tested at a pop up Covid 19 testing station in Woodall Park carpark in Narrowneck, Devonport as Auckland wakes to level four lockdown and four more cases on August 18, 2021 in Auckland, New Zealand. The first reported case of the Covid Delta variant is a Devonport local. Level 4 lockdown restrictions have come into effect across New Zealand for the next three days, while Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula will remain in lockdown for seven days after a positive COVID-19 case was confirmed in the community in Auckland on Tuesday. The positive case traveled to Coromandel over the weekend and the source of the infection is still unknown. New Zealand health officials are also yet to confirm whether it is the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus. Under COVID-19 Alert Level 4 measures, people are instructed to stay at home in their bubble other than for essential reasons, with travel severely limited. All non-essential businesses are closed, including bars, restaurants, cinemas and playgrounds. All indoor and outdoor events are banned, while schools have switched to online learning. Essential services remain open, including supermarkets and pharmacies. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

There were 41 new cases of the Delta variant detected in the community today, bringing the cluster to 148. 

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield noted that a majority of the cases emerging are Pasifika, particularly of Samoan ethnicity. 

That's primarily due to the exposure site at the Samoan Assembly of God Church at 33 Andrew Baxter Drive in Māngere, with 58 Covid-19 infections now linked to it.

Bloomfield emphasised his appreciation for the wider Pasifika community on their collective response to the Delta outbreak, previously noting they have the highest testing rates among New Zealanders.

"I would just like to sincerely acknowledge the Samoan community, and indeed the wider Pacific community, for their response to our request for testing," he said. 

"That is proceeding very well." 

This sub-cluster has spread to Wellington now, too, with Bloomfield adding three cases in the capital tied to it on Monday.

A Covid-positive churchgoer attended a service at the Samoan Assembly of God Church in Māngere on August 15. 

Other attendees there between 9am and 3pm that day are now asked to self-isolate for 14 days and get tested.

The second-largest sub-cluster, linked to the initial few cases detected, is named the Birkenhead Social Group. 

There are currently 23 cases tied to this group originating on Auckland's North Shore.  

For the Ministry of Health's full list of locations of interest, click here

The Government has also ramped up its contact tracing measures as the number of close contacts continues to soar. 

There are now 15000 contacts linked to the cluster, most of which are deemed close contacts. 

More than 9700 have been identified and are self-isolating, with ongoing work to track down the remaining group. 

Bloomfield noted a large number of close contacts is significantly higher than what has been seen in previous outbreaks. 

"For comparison, at this point in the outbreak in August last year in Auckland, there were about 1500 close contacts." 

A 10 times increase in close contacts has prompted more people from other government departments to be brought in to aid in contact tracing efforts. 

There are now nearly 900 contact tracers in call centres around the country.