Historic Covid case now considered NZ's first

Ministry of Health staff are scrambling to test people for Covid-19 who were exempted and...
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. Photo: Getty Images
A recently confirmed historic positive Covid-19 case dating back to February is now being considered by officials as the first case in the country as they displayed symptoms a week before New Zealand's previous first reported case.

For the first time there are six historical cases being reported by the Ministry of Health, one confirmed case and five probable historic cases in the Waikato, all dating back to February.

"These cases present no risk to the public.

"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.

"At the time, they did not meet the case definition for testing for people with defined symptoms who had travelled from or transited through China. Italy had not at that point been identified as a country of concern. This meant the New Zealand household was not tested at the time.

"Today’s historical confirmed case (a man) 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.

"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.

"This would mean that the infected family member from Italy is effectively now the first case we are aware of in New Zealand, as they have reported having symptoms on arrival on 21 February, a week before our first reported case on 28 February.

"Consequently, the other household cases would represent the first locally acquired cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, given the onset of symptoms from 29 February for the confirmed case.

"Further investigation will continue.

"As part of the investigation, close contacts of this man during his recent mild illness have been tested as a precaution and have returned negative tests.

"We have known that some people can return a positive PCR test long after they have recovered from the illness and are no longer infectious. Cases from this cluster would fit within one of the four categories outlined yesterday. "

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