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COVID-19 Response Update 21st September 2021


COVID-19 Response Update - Changes to our Alert Level settings and an update on the Whakatīwai response

Tēnei te reo o te Manatū Hauora, te mihi atu rā ki a koutou e ngâ mana, e ngā reo o ngā tōpito katoa o te motu, tēnā rawa atu koutou katoa.

The Prime Minister announced this afternoon that Tāmaki Makaurau will move to Alert Level 3 at 11.59pm tomorrow night, Tuesday 21 September. Given the expected long tail of Delta, Tāmaki Makaurau will stay at Alert Level 3 for at least two weeks, with Cabinet reviewing these settings on Monday 4 October.

The rest of Aotearoa will stay at Alert Level 2 with slightly relaxed settings – the number of people who can gather at Alert Level 2 has now increased from 50 to 100.

I know Alert Level 4 has been incredibly difficult for whānau in Tāmaki Makaurau and the new two weeks will provide its own challenges. However, this lock-down has been critical in preventing the spread of Delta and protecting our communities. Modellers have predicted that if we waited just one week longer to go into lock-down, we’d be sitting at about 5000 cases right now. Nā reira, our shift to Alert Level 4 has done what we needed it to do – contain the outbreak, and keep our people safe.

Heoi anō, I wanted to use this pōnui to update you on our response and speak to the new Alert Level settings and what they mean for you and your whānau.  

Alert Level 3 for whānau in Tāmaki Makaurau

  • Tuatahi, you must stay within your household bubble as much as possible. You are unable to visit friends, whānau, or neighbours. I know this is strict, but it’s in place for a reason. If you break your bubble, you may be putting your whānau members at risk. We’ve seen this already with many of our cases throughout the past month.
  • Heoi, you can make small extensions to your bubble to bring in a person who may be isolated or vulnerable such as a kaumātua. You are also able to bring in a caregiver or whānau member to support you with your tamariki if need be.  
  • Kaumātua aged 65 and over who have not been vaccinated are encouraged to stay at home until they have been. Once vaccinated, they’ll be able to leave the whare to get kai or other essential items, so please encourage your kaumātua to book in as soon as possible.
  • When out and about, please keep your distance from others. You should keep a distance of at least two metres in public and in retail stores, and one metre in controlled environments, like at mahi.
  • Kura are closed, and tamariki should only be going to school if their parents are essential workers unable to work from home. In the rare instance where children have to go to school, face coverings are now mandatory. This doesn’t apply however to children under 12.
  • The rest of us are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering when outside and, in a place, where it’s hard to keep distance from others. You must also legally wear a face covering when on public transport and flights, when visiting healthcare facilities, and when inside any Alert Level 3 businesses and services that are still open and involve customer contact.
  • Gatherings of up to 10 people can go ahead, but only for weddings and tangihanga. You can read more about tangihanga on the Ministry of Health website.
  • Travel throughout the motu remains restricted, particularly for whānau wanting to travel to, out of, or through Tāmaki Makaurau. You can read more about travel guidelines on the Unite Against COVID website.
  • Lastly, if you are māuiui, please stay home and call your health provider or Healthline on 0800 358 5453 to ask about getting a test.
  • You can read the full set of Alert Level 3 guidelines on the Unite Against COVID website.
  • 22 new community cases in Aotearoa
    • There are 22 new cases of COVID-19 in the community today, including three in the Whakatīwai area. These three cases fall within the Counties Manukau DHB catchment and are therefore being counted in the Tāmaki Makaurau total.
    • This brings the total number of cases associated with this outbreak to 1071 with 1054 in Tāmaki Makaurau. Since the outbreak, 694 people have recovered giving us an active total of 377, all of these are in Tāmaki Makaurau.  
    • Of the cases reported today, the majority are household or known cases. Five are unlinked, however three of these are from one whānau so we have a tentative link. Interviews are underway and I’ll provide further updates on these cases over the next few days.

    Update on our response to the Whakatīwai cases
    • Testing has already begun in the Whakatīwai area and widespread testing in these communities will continue throughout the week. Over 300 swabs have already been taken in this small hapori, nā reira, e mihi ana to all the whānau who’ve helped out so far.
    • In addition to continued testing and isolation of contacts, the Director-General is going to put a Section 70 notice on the area which will place further restrictions on the people living there.
    • This is essentially a bespoke Level 4 requirement for the Whakatīwai area which is proposed to be in place for the next five days.
    • People who live there, work there, or have visited since the 8th of September should stay home and monitor for symptoms. These people should also keep watch of the locations of interest on our website, and follow any instructions if they’ve been at a location at the relevant time.  
    • I know this will be hard for whānau in the area, but these restrictions will help prevent further spread and keep our people safe.
    • More details on these restrictions, including a map of the affected areas, will be uploaded to the Unite Against COVID website later. I’ll also include another update in tomorrow’s pānui.

    Vaccinating all New Zealanders remains central to our response
  • Since the outbreak started, we’ve administered 1.43 million first doses of the vaccine and provided a further 660,000 people with their second dose.
  • To date, over three million New Zealanders have had one dose of the vaccine, and 1.6 million are fully vaccinated.
  • For the Māori roll-out, 291,019 Māori have received one dose of the vaccination, and 141,378 have received their second dose.
  • Vaccinating all eligible New Zealanders remains a critical part of our response because it’s one of the best defences we’ve got against COVID and future outbreaks.
  • You can help by encouraging your friends and whānau (aged 12 and over) to book in for their vaccinations as soon as possible. It’s safe and it’s free. They can do this online or by calling 0800 28 29 26.
  • If you’re looking for a vaccine centre near you, check out or the Healthpoint website.      
  • Please remind your friends and whānau to get information on COVID-19 and the vaccine from our trusted sources – the Ministry of Health website, Unite Against COVID channels, Karawhiua channels, and the Te Puni Kōkiri ‘COVID-19 Information for Māori’ portal.

    For guidance on protecting yourself and your whānau from COVID-19 misinformation and scams, please visit the Unite Against COVID website.  

    If you have any questions, feel free to contact me or my team at Mā

    Mā te Atua tātou e manaaki i roto i ngā āhuatanga o te wā,  

    Nāhaku me aku mihi aroha,


    John Whaanga
    Deputy Director-General | Māori Health Directorate
    Waea pūkoro: 021 578 040  | Īmēra:

COVID-19 Response Update 21st September 2021


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