Chris Hipkins: "Undoubtedly" Rulebreakers among those in yesterdays 45 community cases

The AM Show 30/09/2021

WATCH: Chris Hipkins on The AM Show this morning provided some details on what contributed to the surprise 45 cases yesterday. 

"There will undoubtedly be some people who haven't followed the rules in this. I don't have a detailed breakdown of exactly who's in that situation, but yes, there have been instances of that where that has resulted in people spreading COVID-19.

"I don't want to overstate the rule-breaking. Ultimately, the case investigation is about ring-fencing and isolating risk rather than apportioning blame and that's absolutely where we need it to be focused on at the moment. 

"It's not about hurting people's feelings - it's about getting people to continue to cooperate. If they stop cooperating, then things get a lot worse, very quickly, and ultimately, none of us can afford to have that happen."

Hipkins made comment on whether this will effect Auckland moving to level 2 come Monday next week.

"The reality is the Government hasn't made the decisions on that yet. What we see in our case investigations over the coming days in terms of, not just the number of cases, but the nature of cases - that will have a bearing on the overall decisions that we take next week. 

"But we do want to be able to give Aucklanders back more freedom as soon as we're able to do that so I think that kind of speculation is a bit premature."

When asked if there is a number of unlinked cases that Auckland could still move to level 2 with, Hipkins was hesitant to give a firm response.

"I don't have a number. We've never put those kinds of hard and fast rules around this. You deal with every decision that you have to take based on the best information you have at the time. 

"A lot of people have opinions. The reality, though, is that when the situation changes, they can change their opinions. When you're making decisions, you don't have that luxury. Once you've made the decisions you're stuck with it. So, we typically hold that decision-making until the last possible point so that we've got the best information available to us. 

"A mystery case, while it might be called a mystery case, we often do sometimes know some things about that - are they genomically linked to the currency cluster? Is there a potentially likely link even if it's not a confirmed link? What's the geographical area and were they at any locations of interest?

"These are all things that help to paint a bit of a picture. Some mystery cases, yes, they might not be household contacts or close contacts, but there can sometimes be a plausible explanation for how they came into contact with COVID-19. 

"One the other hand, if they're popping up somewhere where we don't have other cases, then those are the sorts of cases that are of more concern to us."

But what about a move back up to level 4? Hipkins wouldn't rule that out either.

"You never say never about anything when you're dealing with this. But what I can say is that level 4 and level 3 restrictions are a pretty big hammer in our fight against COVID but we do have other tools in the toolkit and we'll certainly look to deploy those to maximum effect where we can."

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