This story originally appeared on RNZ.co.nz and is republished with permission
A father and his young daughter have been confirmed as the latest two Covid-19 community cases, the Ministry of Health has revealed.
Watch the update here:
In a media conference this afternoon, director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says they have been moved into a quarantine facility but the mother, who has tested negative, would isolate at home.
Today, genome sequencing showed they had the South African variant and that they were linked to the same source case in managed isolation as the Northland woman who tested positive on Sunday after leaving managed isolation.
There was limited contact tracing required for the source case – who never made it out of MIQ – Hipkins says.
Meanwhile, the close contacts of the Northland case remain in isolation, Bloomfield says. They are still returning negative results but contact tracing interviews are still extensive, he says.
It was a “thorough investigation of someone’s life”, and interviews included questions about movements in MIQ hotels.
The results also show a single chain of transmission, Bloomfield says, but how the transmission came about was still being investigated. They are looking at all options and taking all precautions.
He says there is no evidence of any community transmission.
“We can confirm the father had not been at work … and the child has not been at a early childcare centre.”
Minister in charge of the Covid-19 Response Chris Hipkins says the source case – who stayed in MIQ – and one of the other cases had been out of their rooms at the same time – when the virus could have been transmitted.
Therefore all returnees in managed isolation will stay in their rooms after receiving their day 12 test until the end of their stay in isolation, he says.
He says next week he will receive more advice about improving how MIQ rooms are allocated.
Those who come in on the same flight are already kept together as much as possible, he says.
Other changes have already been made – including the addition of day zero or day one tests.
Bloomfield says in addition to the two new cases in the community, there are three new cases in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) today, and there are 69 active cases in total.
Bloomfield says people who leave MIQ are told what symptoms to look for and what to do if they exhibit them.
As for contact tracing, the family of the two new cases have been interviewed and locations of interest have been published.
The list, which is available here, will develop, he says.
The two cases have 11 close contacts and five have been tested and returned negative results.
The 168 people who were at the locations of interest related to the two new cases at the same time were alerted via the Covid Tracer app.
At the Pullman Hotel, 201 of the 219 staff working during the period of concern have been tested and 199 returned negative tests, Hipkins says. The others are still to come.
Hipkins says so far, all others who stayed in the facility who have been tested returned negative tests.
He says despite no new guests being allowed into the Pullman, all those incoming to MIQ in the country will be accommodated – that’s what the contingency spaces left available are for.
The Pullman had good swipe card data, which helped with tracking, he says.
There have been 6230 tests undertaken in the past week.
Hipkins says improving testing was always being considered – saliva testing was being trialled as well.
More than 100,000 people have been through MIQ, he says, but there is no “absolutely risk-free pathway”.
Discussing Auckland Anniversary weekend, Hipkins would not say if people in the region should stay home.
Hipkins wants everyone in the country to be following Covid-19 news, advice and updates from the government.
Hipkins says he can’t guarantee everywhere in the Pullman Hotel is covered by CCTV.
On a Covid-19 vaccine, Hipkins says New Zealand vaccine production capability is quite limited, as far as he understands.
He has repeated that there is a need to allow Kiwis to come home, and that there are already long delays for those wanting to come back.
Advice from the Ministry of Health:
- The recent cases of Covid-19 in Auckland and Northland have been linked to Managed Isolation and Quarantine. There is no evidence so far that suggests community transmission.
- The locations visited by the recent cases can be found on the Ministry of Health website
- To help stamp out Covid-19, it’s important the right people isolate and get tested
- If you were at the locations of interest at the times stated, you need to: isolate away from others, call Healthline 0800 358 5453 for advice on when and where to get tested, and remain isolated until you have a negative test result
- If you were not at a location of interest at the stated times and you have no symptoms you do not need to be tested
- If you were not at any of the locations of interest at the stated times, but you have symptoms, call Healthline for advice on 0800 358 5453
- If you are going to get tested, remember you may have to queue. Please take food and water and continue to be kind to each other and our public health team
- Everyone should continue to scan QR codes using the Covid Tracer app and turn Bluetooth on to help stop the spread of Covid-19