There are eight new cases of Covid-19 to report today – all in MIQ and none in the community.

The Ministry of Health has revealed the latest numbers in its first update since Friday.

It has now been 21 days since the last case was reported in the community.

The seven-day rolling average of new cases detected at the border is four, while the total number of active cases is 58.

The eight new cases are travellers arriving from Singapore, Pakistan, Qatar, the Philippines, Sweden, India, Ireland and Papua New Guinea.

The person who travelled to Singapore is considered to be a historical case and not currently infectious. They arrived from there on March 2 and then flew back to Singapore on March 7, after which they returned a weak positive test result.

On Friday, 5223 tests were processed and yesterday there were 4166 tests processed. The seven-day rolling average up to yesterday is 4412 tests processed.

The latest numbers come as Cabinet prepares to discuss a quarantine-free transtasman bubble on Monday, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said she doesn’t want to release a timeline until a date firms up.

Only one visitor from Australia so far this year tested positive for Covid-19 while in managed isolation, and health experts have described a transtasman bubble as very low risk.

This week Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said airlines and airports would need at least three weeks to put practices in place so a bubble could operate safely.

He said many issues remain unresolved, including when the bubble should be suspended, what happens to stranded Kiwis if it is suspended, the testing requirements in both countries, the exit-visa requirements for Australians coming here, and the contact-tracing compatibility of both countries’ systems.

Including other countries in the bubble is also a consideration, and people are already allowed to travel to New Zealand from the Cook Islands and Niue without having to quarantine.

What to do with empty MIQ rooms is also an issue, and health experts have floated the idea of closing them rather than allowing travellers from higher-risk countries to use them.

Hipkins has said the Government is considering options, but its unlikely to open up all of the 30 to 40 per cent of MIQ capacity to travellers from countries other than Australia because that would increase risk.

A bubble is also highly anticipated by the struggling tourism industry hoping an influx of Australian visitors will ease the loss of foreign tourists.

On Friday the Ministry of Health blamed a “process issue” for the over-reporting of this country’s active Covid cases.

Health officials said on Wednesday that there were 97 active cases in New Zealand – but on Friday that number was revised down to 55.

“Some recovered cases had been discharged from a managed quarantine facility but their status was not updated from active to recovered in our reporting systems,” the ministry said in a statement.

“It has been confirmed that all positive cases were managed appropriately and there has been no risk to the community.”

The ministry continued to urge people to use the NZ Covid Tracer app.

There have been 1,099,808 scans in the last 24 hours to 1pm yesterday, and 1,042,604 scans per day on average for the past week.

“Please scan QR codes wherever you go and turn on Bluetooth tracing in the app dashboard if you haven’t already done so,” the ministry said.


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