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What happens after a COVID-19 vaccine is available?

everybody good afternoon and welcome to the last day of school uh the first half of 2020 has been dominated by one thing covert 19. as new zealanders we are all rightly proud of what we have achieved as a team of five million we're the envy of much of the rest of the world and we enjoy freedoms that so many others don't but it isn't scaremongering to say that that could all change and it all could all change very quickly that is a statement of fact and we only need to look at australia to see that we simply cannot afford to be complacent our best chance of preserving the gains that we have all made of keeping the freedoms that we all now enjoy is to stay ever vigilant while it's also undeniable that today we politicians all head out onto the campaign trail the fact is that the covert 19 virus won't be taking six weeks off while we do that as a government we will continue to lead the covert 19 response for as long as we are in office and that includes using all of the tools at our disposal to ensure new zealanders stay vigilant and prepared and with that in mind there are three things that i want to address with you today first as i alluded on tuesday we're going to begin a field trial of another tool in our covert 19 toolbox the bluetooth enabled covert card contact tracing technology as we've said many times before effective contact tracing is a vital part of our response while the manual process will remain the critical element of our contact tracing system we do know that digital solutions can make our contacts tracing faster and more effective no single technology to solve contact tracing has been identified anywhere in the world we're continuing to improve our existing tools like the covert tracer app and i'll speak more about that in a moment whilst at the same time continuing to explore other available technology options like a covert card initial assessments have indicated that the covert card works under controlled conditions and has the potential to make contact tracing faster so we'll be carrying out further work over the next few months to see how it could be implemented in new zealand we will be undertaking a field trial in rotorua and that could potentially involve 250 to 300 people and that will allow us to understand how the card works in a real world scenario whether it's compatible with our contact tracing system and importantly if the public would accept and use the cards if we were to roll them out more widely a decision on whether to continue with the covert card will be made later in the year we do not anticipate that it would be made mandatory the covert card won't store location data or track users it simply blindly records the length and distance of the interaction with others who have cards who are up to five meters away and information will be accessed if and only if the card user is a close contact of a confirmed covet 19 case and contact tracing is required in the meantime we'll continue to develop and use the covert tracer app i'm happy to report it now has thousand 637.000 users that's up fifteen thousand seven hundred over the past week and just end two thousand four hundred in the last day alone qr codes are also increasing currently up to eighty four thousand and 279 and the seven day average of the number of scans is also continuing to increase up to 19 591 and there have been 1941 990 poster scans and 65 803 manual entries that is proving to be a very popular function so it's good to see the number of qr codes continuing to increase my message to businesses who have stopped displaying via qr codes is please put them back and put them back in a prominent place and the ministry of health will be getting in touch with businesses and others to ensure that they are doing that i have also been speaking with retail and hospitality associations as they continue to play a leadership role in this area finally the use of face masks the ministry of health has updated its advice on the use of masks by the public as part of our ongoing response to covert 19. we've seen elsewhere that masks can play a role in helping us to reduce the spread of covert 19 when worn by the public where there are cases of community transmission i want to restate here there are currently no cases of community transmission in new zealand the world health organisation suggests that people should be prepared for the use of masks before the need to use them arises so the ministry is now recommending that as part of our collective preparations for any future outbreak of covert 19 households add sufficient masks for everybody normally resident in their household to their emergency supply kits just as we are prepared by having food and water set aside in the event of a natural disaster we are encouraging new zealanders to have a supply of masks set aside at home in the event of a further covert 19 outbreak these do not needs to be medical grade masks they could be reusable or the single use masks that people see online or in shops masks will be most useful when covert 19 is present in the community and people are mingling in close proximity to each other like at work or in social situations currently at alert level one which is where we're at today it is not necessary for the public to wear masks because there is no evidence of community transmission here in new zealand if we move to alert level 2 the public will be encouraged to wear masks in situations where physical distancing is not possible such as on public transport or in shops if there are further outbreaks of covert 19 masks will be another important component in our strategy for containing the spread of the virus so that we can if at all possible avoid further lockdowns this is of course in addition to strict physical distancing hand hygiene and most importantly avoiding contact with others if you have covert 19 related symptoms all things we encourage new zealanders to continue to do today i want to stress once again that this is about general preparedness it's about being ready it isn't about a cause for alarm so we're asking the members of the public to view face masks as they view other pieces of their emergency supply kits important tools that we can all use if we need to use them in the future we will have further public awareness campaigns on this uh over the coming weeks and the ministry of health will be leading those efforts i'll now hand over to the director general for the daily update uh before we get into questions thank you minister kiyora kutu katoa before i get on to the daily update on numbers just a couple of comments to reflect on and reiterate what the minister has said about masks we know covert 19 is spread from close contact with a person who already has the infection and masks are one tool in the toolbox to help spread the risk of to help reduce the risk of spread between people should covert 19 be in the community our overall elimination strategy of course is still based on strong border protection testing contact tracing isolating people who are infected and of course and the ministers mentioned this physical distancing what we are wanting to do and what we are doing is adding masks to our overall toolbox as part of our ambition to avoid having to go up alert levels should they be required we've got some good up-to-date easily comprehendable information on our website about how to put on and take off a mask and i've even volunteered my services to do a facebook video so hopefully i can pass the test on doing that as well we'll make that available so masks are one part of our strategy and what we are talking about here are non-medical grade masks or a reusable mask there's some there's a wide range of the latter that you can buy online or in stores and we're just encouraging people to have one in their kit we will be continuing to work with the health system to ensure there are medical grade masks available right across the health sector as you know we have very good supplies and we have improved and greatly strengthened our system for distributing those right out to the frontline staff should they be needed and likewise for some people who are at higher risk of severe illness from covert 19 our recommendation is they get the higher quality medical or surgical grade masks which they can do from pharmacies or online now turning to our daily case numbers i can report that there are no new cases of covert 19 in the country today so we're now 97 days since the last case of covert 19 was acquired locally from an unknown source one further case has considered to have is considered to have recovered so we have 23 active cases all in managed isolation facility none are receiving hospital level care and our confirmed number of cases remains at 1 219 yesterday our labs processed 5020 tests and the total number of tests to date is therefore 482 929 and just two of those swabs yesterday were taken in managed isolation and quarantine facilities so well over four and a half thousand were undertaken in the community and it's encouraging to see that rise in testing numbers i can't emphasize enough how important that testing is as part of our overall strategy and i want to thank those who have and will continue to come forward to be tested and the health professionals in the community who are taking the swabs and those in our labs who are processing them for their hard work finally on pop-up centres we saw the pop-up center in queenstown uh with over 1050 people showing up on tuesday alone to be swapped there and it proved to be very well used uh it's provided the outcome of that testing provides a lot of reassurance for queenstown locals and for the wider country about um there being no community transmission there and i'm pleased to say that uh there were 1007 swabs in total taken uh all but seven have now been processed and all have returned a negative result it's not that those seven are being retested in fact they were just not labeled properly and they are now going through that process there will be further pop-up centres in other parts of the country over the coming days and also over coming weeks just as part of our awareness raising keeping the numbers up and particularly if we find areas that have got lower testing rates so the four auckland community testing centres were set up last week in northcote henderson grafton and woody as part of a an ongoing sustainable community testing model in the auckland region and there are now four new community mobile testing units in auckland as well and there will be an additional pop-up in south auckland by the weekend that will be um resourced by one of those mobile testing teams likewise in canterbury over the weekend there will be an additional center in christchurch and we will publicize the venue for that which will be available on saturday uh the testing will be we will let you know as soon as the venue is confirmed in the mid central district health board region there will be two testing stations and palmerston north on friday one is in the car park of the new world pioneer and the other at an event at the pacifica community centre at bill brown park taranaki will have an additional pop-up testing clinic in new plymouth on friday from 1 to 3 p.m in the new world car park for any members of the public who want to be swapped there symptomatic or asymptomatic so please do make use of these centers a test the testing helps us rule out community transmission of covert 19 or if there is a case out in our community that has snuck through our very good border measures we want to find it as soon as possible so we can act and maintain our very good position we've found ourselves in as a country thanks minister thank you and if i can just wrap that up by uh thanking those who are involved in setting up those pop-up testing stations around the country um i acknowledge all of the work that's gone into those and i do encourage new zealanders if you're offered a test uh please take the test now happy birthday why do you turn on masks uh look the situation changes the the advice from the world health organization has continued to evolve during this time and uh we're in a different situation now to what we were um previously is it realistic that we would be wearing them at level two because looking at the alert level systems um the scenario that you outlined was that at level two we would have some community transmission looking at the risks community transmission puts us back into lockdown we would be encouraging people to use them uh in public places where social we're the physical distancing the social distancing which we would be asking people to do at alert level 2 where that's not possible we'd be encouraging them to use a mask so that we can keep public transport and other things like that operating prompt level 2. well the criteria for escalation up the levels has not changed that would be household transmission occurring so why do people need to wear masks in public if it's contained within households in order to it's a it's an extra line of defense so as we've said all along this is about doing what we need to do um to ensure that we are being as cautious as possible to avoid community transmission the the opposition is accusing you basically of fear mongering i utterly reject that they put out a press release yesterday i don't know whether you saw jerry brownlee's comments but um he said that it doesn't add up why announce this now when there are a few cases what do these guys know that they're not telling us what do you know that you're not telling us i would encourage jerry brownlee to swap the tinfoil hat for a face mask it is a bit strange though that you know when we did have it spreading in the community the advice was not to bother with masks and and now that we have a limited now he's saying hey go and get them because the way the disease spreads hasn't changed look i think you know well the reality is our understanding of the disease um is changing all of the time and so we get new information we've get uh new experiences from what's happening around the rest of the world that we can draw on so we can learn from others experiences here to ensure that we are less likely to join them again and having to have more dramatic controls this prompts people to rush out in the same way that we had the toilet paper crisis is there actually the capacity the stock available if people are going to go oh i need to go get my face mask so my understanding uh as of yesterday was that there are around 12 million masks available for in retail stock at the moment and of course those retailers as you know supply and demand issues they'll manage those supply and demand issues it is important to note that these can be reusable masks people can make their own masks there are some good lessons on how to do that available on the internet fabric masks are good because people can reuse them over and over again and wash them in between uses um and so uh our advice is to have masks and so uh to have masks in your supply kit um and uh people you know doing it now means that people will have time to do that card is it actually a card it's a my understanding um is that it's a lanyard something that it's a thing that you hang around your neck so it is a card or like a dongle well i don't know that i haven't seen the actual physical shape of it um but i mean as you know with modern technology you can make it whatever shape you want the new trial of the copic card what are you seeking to get out of that that the two previous trials didn't tell you um as i've said i think you know if we were going to roll this out much more widely there would be a huge investment required in that and so we do want to make sure that we're collecting all of the relevant information one of the things that we want to test through the the next trial is is user response to that so are people continuing to use it does it provide useful data do they find it useful you know those are the sorts of things that we want to be able to test through and through the the next field trial on that enzyme um my understanding is that it's some data from that has been used in contact tracing even if the exposure notification hasn't gone out why hasn't that been publicized morgan can you tell me or dr blueton could you tell us a little bit more about how that has been used yeah i'll get dr bloomfield to comment on exactly how it's been used but i would just reiterate the the point that i've made every time we've talked about this that the covert tracer app is a tool in the toolkit and it helps us to speed things up the more accurate people can be in recounting their contacts when when they're interviewed when when there's a need to do so the faster that process will be and so if people are using the tracer app regularly they're adding in all of their entries into it then obviously that's going to make the contact tracing manual process much faster and much more painless thanks minister i'll just i will take the opportunity to first of all just to again give a plug for for the app because the key to successful contact tracing is being able to contact people in the first place and therefore simply downloading and registering with the app and giving us at the ministry of health and we're the only ones who have the data up-to-date contact information is in itself incredibly helpful thank you for the suggestion that you made about actually publicizing the fact that the data some people have been collecting has been used and was used as part of our contact tracing efforts following up from the investigation we were doing on the person who flew to south korea it did it proved valuable and it proved the system worked so even though we didn't push out a notification to people there were some people who were part of the group who were followed up and traced who were then able to provide their information at uh at their own uh their own choice to do that and that helped us then track where they had been so yes the app has already proven its value public health perspective do you think that new zealanders should get more sickly uh i think the important thing here and the minister is probably better to comment on this the important thing here is that we don't want um sick leave to be a barrier to people staying home from work if they are unwell or staying home from anywhere and as the minister mentioned a very important public health measures that people do not expose others to a respiratory illness which could be covert 19 if they are unwell minister you might want to comment on sick leave yes look can i just acknowledge the work of employers up and down the country the feedback that we've had since the beginning of this exercise you know six months or so ago is that employers are being as flexible as they possibly can be in encouraging their staff to stay home if they're sick and i acknowledge that that's an extra cost for those businesses and for those employers and their goodwill is very much appreciated on behalf of the team of five million issues around statutory sick leave entitlements of course are issues for the campaign trail and those are questions that you can put to all of the political parties on the campaign trail labour's spokesperson for help do you think that new zealanders should give you something i'm not going to be making any party announcements uh today and on this place something on the campaign trail from you around that that is uh not a matter for me and it's not a metaphor for the day for today that is not a matter for me and it's not a matter for today joe support the idea of um privately run isolation hotels and can you just talk through what the risks and what the positives might be and i'm interested in your comments on that too look primarily that is a question for megan woods of course who is the minister responsible for managing these issues what i would say from a health perspective though and also i can comment a little bit as minister of education on that is that we do not want to do anything in that space that increases our overall risk profile so we have worked really hard over the last three or four months to make sure that those miq facilities are managed in the you know lowest risk way possible and of course as soon as you expand as soon as you bring more people in you have to look at very very carefully at how you would manage any you know additional risk that goes with that so the facilities that we've got now we've got the risks down very very low um and we're very confident and comfortable with that and we're always looking at how we can do more to you know to remove any residual risk that exists there as soon as you open that out you create more risk so i wouldn't support doing anything that increases our overall risk profile but with time there are a variety of issues that we can carefully work our way through don't worry dr bloomfield about any increased risk there might be with a private model not worried per se but just to reiterate what the minister said here that we've worked and continue to work on a daily basis to minimise the risk within our managed isolation and quarantine facilities it's absolutely fundamental to us maintaining our current position so any developments either changes to our current managed isolation and quarantine facility protocols or extension into private arrangements would have to fulfill very stringent uh public health criteria and that's our role and we've seen that actually the value of those is we haven't had cases coming out of our managed isolation and quarantine yet into the community and we're absolutely committed to keeping it that way should there be a provision for contractors to get certain look again that's not a matter that i'm going to cover here today do you think there's a reasonable chance of success in this trial and do you think there's a reasonable chance that people will want to wear a dongle around their neck all the time look i think the key thing about a trial is that you have to be genuinely open to it and we are genuinely open to it how do you think people will want to wear a dongle around their neck all the time well that's one of the things that you know we can test out through the through having a trial like this be a sizable investment like you said to put them out everywhere do you imagine that um if if they're going to be used they'll be distributed to people as the risk increases as we go up levels or that it will be distributed to everyone like in level one and you'll set behavior that way very hypothetical scenario at this point the point of trialing it is to see what the technology is capable of how it works and how people respond to the technology so those are all decisions that would that would flow from the findings of any trial money's gone into the trial so far do you know uh it's not a huge amount i think around a million dollars if i'm right yeah there's 250 people to 250 to 300 do you think that's enough i mean look the advice that i've had from the people who've designed the trailers that they you know they'll keep working on on you know the exact specification for the trial um but that you know in the order of that number would be about right for a trial obviously in the view that it wouldn't be mandatory uh reasonably yeah look the manual contact tracing system is still going to be the mainstay of what we do around contact tracing and as i've always said these these tools these extra tools and bear in mind that there are a lot of countries in a much worse position than us who are experimenting with these you know looking in under a much greater sense of urgency to find the the magic solution and none of them have found one so that the most these tools i think will give us are just that they'll give us extra tools testing do you have a combined daily total for the testing rate in the community and miq facilities so just to just to rehearse the numbers so the total yesterday was 5020 and of those 290 were from managed isolation and quarantine facilities so the balance were uh community tests oh just in terms of your expectation is the testing level reaching your expectation yet in terms of community testing obviously i'm very heartened by what we've seen over the last couple of days and i'd like to see that sustained i do acknowledge that we do see a bit of a dip in the weekends and no matter what we do it seems that that's the case but certainly i'm feeling much more comfortable with the level of testing that we're seeing at the moment i think we've still got a little bit more work to do around testing at the border and i've been working very closely with the ministry with all those who are working at the border to get those numbers up those are people working at the border so we've still got some further work to do there but i think community testing is going well i think the testing and miq is going well as we would expect it to the day three and the day 12 tests are about where we would expect them to be um and so we'll keep pushing the staff at the miq facilities yesterday minister woods said she was interested in opening up testing for the staff security guards everyone if they wanted that that sense of comfort and if we wanted that sense of comfort that they weren't possibly contracting the virus so they can get that now they absolutely can people who are working at the border who are in that higher risk group they can be tested we actually have this week a testing station located uh all week at the auckland airport which of course is where one of the you know which is where we'll predominantly see that um and so people are able to get tested there if they don't have symptoms yes and so they just have to ask if i if i was a security guard at a hotel i would just ask for a test why didn't mr woods not say that it was the case yesterday why did she understand it to be different look megan woods isn't is it overseeing this part of the the process um i am um and the ministry is so yeah she was under the impression that they couldn't get a test so easily yes they can did you manage to follow up at all around the mixed messages from some testing centers with the papers that they're still giving people telling them they need to self-isolate even if they're not in that higher risk index i'll ask the director general to comment on that i know that i had some feedback yesterday um on uh health line you know advice people were given from health line and so one of the things i did was i get in touch with healthline and we got some anonymized transcripts of the calls that they were receiving in terms of the advice that they were giving and i can tell you i read through five individual transcripts that names and personal details would be taken out every one of those people was encouraged to go and get a test and uh was facilitated in order to be able to do that so i am confident that healthline are doing because that's been one of the areas of concern they are doing what we're asking them to do um i'm talking about the test part i'm talking about the them being told that they have still because remember it's changed the self-isolation you can't go back to work so yeah i'll ask the director general yeah so for um some weeks now uh the only people who've had to self-isolate are those who are and it's a very small proportion who are in that high index of suspicion who fulfill those criteria others even if symptomatic don't necessarily need to self-isolate until they get the results of the test so saying we're encouraging people not to go to work or not to expose others if they have symptoms sorry just get back to what i'm trying to say here so there are community testing centres that are still giving out the original piece of paper that you would go home with that said you must self-isolate until you get a negative result which is not the case anymore yes i i haven't had anything has the communication filtered down to the ground to say stop telling people to go home and stuff isolate for three days or whatever i very much hope so i think our messaging has been very clear from the centre but if there are examples as we've found right through this uh right through this effort over the last six months there may well be examples in certain areas we will follow them all up but we can give that message out again all right why the testing numbers have increased over the past two days what's caused that well i would hope that people are listening to what we're saying which is if you're offered a test please go and get your test uh there has been a lot of publicity around it in recent days um and i think that's a very good thing and i welcome that and i welcome the increased public focus on testing so do you have insight into how you're going to continue the momentum well we'll keep talking about it um i obviously one of the things that we um have found is that the pop-up testing stations work um not having them in the same place all the time moving them around actually works um and so we'll continue to look at those okay last question your family masks i've got them on order actually and i have some disposable ones that we could use in the meantime if there was a need for us to do so take a quick question on survival screening self-testing which is the story that came up today just while you're both here i haven't had a chance to look at that in great detail but i'm um why is the government not prioritizing cervical cancer self-screening when doctors are actually warning now that women will die look um i haven't had a chance to look at that in great depth um i don't know whether the director general wants to make a comment on that i'm happy to come back to you on that though so just two comments to make and uh we're working with the clinicians including uh bev laughton who i know well on this issue two comments i'd like to make first of all not i don't want to undermine and deny that i know does bev the current cervical screening program and it is very important that women all women facilitated to and take up the offer to get a regular cervical smear under the existing program it has been incredibly successful in reducing deaths and morbidity from cervical cancer and the only way it will continue to do so is if women keep getting a regular smear on hpv based screening there is clearly an intention to move to an hpv based screening including the option of women using a self-administered swab and bev laughton and others have done a a a study to show that there's high acceptability of that which is very encouraging so saying the important thing for any screening program is that women or in the case of bowel screening both women and men take up the offer to be screened and i strongly encourage all women to continue as part of the extent program while we go through the work that needs to be done including updating the information system which needs to be upgraded as a prerequisite for moving to hpv based screening okay i'm going to i'm going to wrap things up now um this is the last day of parliament sitting and i have questions that i have to go and prepare to answer in the house i do want to thank you all for your company over the last one month and three days not that i've been counting uh from here on uh the director-general will be doing a weekly briefing at the ministry of health he will not be on the campaign trail obviously i will be available whilst on the campaign trail to continue to answer your questions and we'll look to schedule something probably weekly um to make sure that i can keep you updated on the work that the government is doing around covert 19. so i'll see you on the campaign trail everybody thank you you