Three new Covid cases in community and six 'historical' cases

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 23 Sep 2020, 1:38PM
Photo / File
Photo / File

Three new Covid cases in community and six 'historical' cases

NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 23 Sep 2020, 1:38PM

There are three new cases of Covid-19 to report today, the Ministry of Health says.

There are also six 'historical' cases to report - including one from February 21 that is now the earlier known coronavirus infection in New Zealand.

Today's three new cases are all in the community, and are a family group linked to the September 11 chartered flight from Christchurch to Auckland for people leaving a managed isolation facility having completed their 14 day-stay.

Also on the flight was the man who tested positive for Covid-19 at the weekend whose virus is thought to have had a rare three-week incubation period.

There were 86 people on this charter flight. All have been contacted and are either in the process of being tested or have been tested, and so far 63 have returned a negative test.

Another case from the man's earlier Delhi-Fiji flight has now been genomically sequenced, and the result is a close match. The case is still being investigated, but he is thought to have contracted Covid-19 before arriving in New Zealand.

Six historical cases

The Health Ministry says there are six historic cases - one confirmed and five probable cases - to report for the first time.

They are linked to the Waikato and present no risk to the public, the ministry said.

"This infection occurred in late February following exposure to an infected person from Italy (another family member).

"At the time the family member was visiting New Zealand, they became ill with symptoms consistent with Covid-19, and the wider household then also became ill."

None of the household were tested because they didn't meet the case definition at the time, which was for people who had travelled through China.

"[He] recently developed a sore throat and sought testing. The weak positive result, combined with serology test results and case history, is consistent with an old infection," the ministry said.

"At this stage, only the man will be counted as a confirmed case as he has returned a weak positive result on the PCR test. The other family members will be recorded as probable cases."

The household members are now considered the first cases that were locally acquired.

"Further investigations will continue."

Auckland's alert level move

The case numbers come as Auckland prepares to move to full alert level 2 - with continued use of masks on public transport and flights, and gathering limits of 100 people - from 11.59pm tonight.

The rest of the country moved to alert level 1 yesterday.

Yesterday there were no new cases but a "weak positive" was identified, who had tested positive on Monday but who then tested negative on Tuesday morning.

The case is thought to be historical, and the person is thought to have been infected before they boarded a flight heading to New Zealand from India.

The person was one of the close contacts of the man who tested positive at the weekend. They shared a chartered flight from Christchurch to Auckland on September 11 after spending 14 days in managed isolation, during which they both tested negative.

This morning director general of health Ashley Bloomfield revealed new measures to further tighten the border.

"The aircrews coming in from overseas-based airlines will now be housed in managed isolation facilities before they fly out again," he said.

Aircrew are exempt from the regular testing of border-facing workers that was mandated in a Public Health Response order earlier this month.

Bloomfield said New Zealand-based aircrew did not have to go to a managed isolation or quarantine (MIQ) facility.

"They still do a couple of days self-isolation and require a negative test before the go out and about."

Board of Airlines Representatives of NZ executive director Justin Tighe-Umbers said the new requirements would likely be implemented before the end of the month.

"Airlines recognise the need to meet the measures that will keep New Zealand and the border safe.

"They're comfortable to meet the requirements, and indeed a number of them are already staying in some of those facilities anyway."