New Auckland cases an adult, child with South African strain

New Zealand is fast approaching 1200 confirmed cases. Photo: Getty Images
Genome testing overnight had shown the pair were linked to the first infection at the Pullman Hotel, which was the highly infectious South African strain. Photo: Getty Images
The two new Auckland Covid cases in the community have the same South African strain of the virus as the Northland woman infected at the Pullman Hotel.

The pair are an adult and a child, Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed this morning.

Genome testing overnight had shown the pair were linked to the first infection at the Pullman Hotel, which was the highly infectious South African strain.

That meant they had potentially come into contact with the returnee with the South African strain while staying at the Pullman, Hipkins told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking.

The first results of the pair's close contact had come back negative. There were six close contacts in total.

The infected pair had not moved far since returning to their home after being in managed isolation.

Hipkins said they were a family that were not particularly active.

There had been extensive testing underway for all returnees that had left the Pullman. Around 300 people had already tested negative.

"There does appear to be something at the Pullman Hotel," he said.

It was unlikely there would be a change in alert levels at this point "but everything is always under review".

Hipkins said it was unfortunate that the information about the infected pair was shared before the Ministry of Health made an announcement about the latest test results last night.

He said at that point the ministry only had preliminary results so had chose not to release the information.

Public health expert Michael Baker told TVNZ this morning it was necessary to have "huge attention to detail" in the 32 managed isolation facilities to minimise the risk.

It would be ideal to reduce the flow of infected people into MIQ - with a goal of zero infected people arriving in New Zealand

Baker suggested home quarantining, or checking into an airport hotel, before they boarded any flight to New Zealand.

There was also the option of conducting rapid covid tests to detect any infection.

Baker also suggested changes were made for returnees to stay at home for a week after they left managed isolation as a way to further reduce the risk.

Earlier: Two new cases revealed last night

Two more Covid-19 cases have been detected in the community in Auckland and health officials are urging people who visited places of interest to isolate and get a test.

The two people who completed their managed isolation at Auckland's Pullman Hotel at the same time as the positive Northland community case were confirmed last night as having been infected.

They left MIQ on January 15 and the Ministry of Health has released a list of 12 locations of interest they visited on the North Shore, including supermarkets, restaurants and service stations.

"While we still can't categorically rule these out as historical infections, test results so far indicate the two people may have contracted Covid-19 towards the end of their stay in managed isolation, after returning two negative tests each during their stay," director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said late last night.

"It's important the right people isolate and get tested, so we don't overwhelm testing centres.

"We understand that many will be anxious, but it's important to remember we are carrying out these measures as a precaution. There is no evidence so far that suggests community transmission — but we need the right people to isolate and get tested."

The infected pair were initially classified as "under investigation" after returning positive tests, pending further investigation to determine if the infections were recent or historical.

"They returned a second positive test with a higher CT value which led to them being treated as confirmed cases," Bloomfield said.

"A third person in the family's bubble has tested negative. The two family members who tested positive are in the process of being moved to Auckland's quarantine facility."

The two positive cases had completed quarantine on January 15.

The list of locations of interest covers a period from January 17, two days after the cases completed quarantine, to January 26.

Bloomfield asked anyone who has visited the below locations during the time period, or was in Auckland with symptoms, to isolate and call Healthline to arrange a test and remain isolated until they receive their result.

The full list is:
• BBQ King Albany - Jan 17, 11am-2pm
• Pak n Save Silverdale - Jan 17, 2pm-2.30pm
• BBQ King Albany - Jan 17, 5pm-9pm
• Pak n Save Silverdale - Jan 18, midday-12.30pm
• BBQ King - Albany Jan 18, 12.30pm-3pm
• Caltex Ōrewa - Jan 18, 1pm-1.30pm
• BBQ King Albany - Jan 18, 5pm-9pm
• Hickeys Pharmacy Ōrewa - Jan 23, 12.30pm-1.30pm
• Farmers Albany -Jan 24, midday-1pm
• Tai Ping Supermarket Albany - Jan 24, midday-1pm
• New World Ōrewa - Jan 25, 1pm-2pm
• Tai Ping Supermarket Northcote - Jan 26, 12.30pm-1pm

Genome sequencing results expected today, and serology results expected tomorrow, would help establish a clearer picture.

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