Two new Covid cases in managed isolation; Air NZ staffer has three close contacts

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 24 Nov 2020, 1:10PM
An Air New Zealand cabin crew member tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday after arriving in Shanghai. Photo / James D. Morgan/Getty Images
An Air New Zealand cabin crew member tested positive for Covid-19 on Sunday after arriving in Shanghai. Photo / James D. Morgan/Getty Images

Two new Covid cases in managed isolation; Air NZ staffer has three close contacts

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 24 Nov 2020, 1:10PM

There are two new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, both in managed isolation.

There are no new community cases.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said this morning that the cabin crew member may have caught the virus in New Zealand.

The staffer has three close contacts, the Ministry of Health said today.

The staffer tested positive for Covid-19 in Shanghai on Sunday after arriving on a direct flight from Auckland. They tested negative on Wednesday during routine border testing in New Zealand, and they had not worked on any other flights before the Shanghai trip.

Preliminary investigations showed that the person's movements in New Zealand for the past two weeks appeared to have been confined to Auckland, Hipkins said.

Their circle of close contacts also appeared to be "relatively small", though he was due to receive a further update this morning. Contact tracers were re-tracing the person's last two weeks in Auckland.

The person's flight schedule in the past month included flights to Australia and China, Hipkins said.

"Coming back from a higher risk place like China - they should be doing a 48-hour stand down and a negative test at the end of the 48 hours before they can go back out into the community.

"We're checking to make sure all those things have happened."

The cabin crew member had mild symptoms and was being re-tested. The rest of the Air NZ crew did not have symptoms and had tested negative.

They are returning to New Zealand tomorrow and will go into isolation. There would be genomic testing of the positive case to track where they might have caught the virus from.

Hipkins said genomic sequencing, which has proven to be a vital tool in the Covid-19 response during recent outbreaks, would be done as soon as the crew member landed in New Zealand.

Hipkins also said work was under way to decide how much of the New Zealand population would need to be vaccinated before travel restrictions could be dropped.

"One of things we're looking at is percentage of the population before we can remove all travel restrictions. It doesn't necessarily have to be 100 per cent. We may never get to 100 per cent."

New Zealand's borders have been closed to non-residents since March, with some exemptions for essential workers.

There were two new cases yesterday, both in managed isolation. There are currently no community cases.

In all, there are 52 active cases in New Zealand.

The November quarantine cluster, which started with a Defence Force staffer working at a quarantine facility, is believed to have been contained.

It has grown to six confirmed cases, though no new cases have been linked to the cluster since Saturday.