Covid 19 coronavirus: Community case in Northland left MIQ 11 days ago

Health officials are responding to a new case of coronavirus in the community in Northland.

The case involves a woman who was released from an MIQ facility – Auckland’s Pullman hotel – on January 13. She used the Covid tracer app and about 30 locations have been identified where she visited after being released.

The list of locations is yet to be released but stretch from Mangawhai to Dargaville and Helensville in southern Northland. The woman lives just south of Whangarei.

Arrivals get tested on about the 12th day of a 14-day stay in managed isolation and are able to leave if the test is negative.

But it is possible the person was infected in the facility after her last test and was incubating Covid when she left.

Probable Covid-19 community case: Expert calls for mass testing

Hipkins and director general of health Ashley Bloomfield will give more details at a press conference at the Beehive at 4pm today.

The last case of community transmission in New Zealand was on November 18.

Covid-19 modeller Professor Michael Plank said it was possible the virus was passed from one infected person to another in a managed isolation facility.

“One of the risks we’ve always been aware of is someone arrives with the virus, but then they pass it on to someone else in quarantine, perhaps near the end of their stay,” said Plank, of the University of Canterbury and Te Punaha Matatini.

“That’s one possible way the virus can leak out. I’m not saying that’s what happened in this case, but it’s a possibility, because it would be unlikely for someone to be incubating the virus for that length of time.”

University of Auckland Professor of Medicine Des Gorman said health experts would be scrambling to test the person’s contacts.

“What’s required now is to not only test the people who have been in direct contact like family members and so on – but also to start encouraging people to turn up and be tested en masse so that there can be some reassurance that there aren’t any other cases in the community.”

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said there was not yet any evidence of actual community “transmission” in Northland. “It’s still most likely this is a border case.”

At today’s 1pm Covid update, the Ministry of Health announced there had been eight new Covid cases in managed isolation since Friday.

The cases came from South Africa (2), the UK, United Arab Emirates, the US (2), Ethiopia and India. Four travelled via UAE and Malaysia.

One previously reported case had recovered, the ministry said.

Tests have now detected 36 people arriving in New Zealand with highly contagious strains of the virus since they emerged late last year: 29 with the UK variant and seven with the South African variant.

In the past fortnight, 17 more people were in quarantine facilities infected with the variants.

Whole genome sequencing had identified 11 samples of B.1.1.7 (known as the UK variant) and six samples of B.1.3.5.1 (known as the South Africa variant).

The ministry warned the strains would continue to show up in managed isolation facilities across New Zealand.

The Government has introduced pre-flight testing from most countries to reduce the number of people arriving at the border with Covid-19. Covid tests are given to people on the day of arrival, as well as day three and day 12.

There are currently 79 active cases in quarantine and the total number of confirmed cases is 1927.

The total number of tests processed by laboratories to date is 1,487,234.

The seven-day rolling average up to yesterday is 3335 tests processed.

The Tracer app now has 2,459,398 registered users. Poster scans have reached 158,388,381 and users have created 6,393,135 manual diary entries.

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