One new case; test urged for people in Queenstown

People with Covid-19 symptoms who were in Queenstown at the beginning of July re being urged to get tested after a visitor to the resort tested positive in South Korea last week.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said today that testing and contact tracing was under way after the 22-year-old man left Christchurch Airport on July 21 and tested positive after arriving in South Korea. 

Details of the man's movements before he boarded the flight are still emerging, including a visit to a supermarket and a McDonald's restaurant. The Countdown supermarket was closed for deep cleaning this week.

Dr Bloomfield said a second test had confirmed the man's positive result.

However, he said all testing of contacts in New Zealand that had returned tests had been negative results. He said there was still no evidence from follow-up activities that there is community transmission in New Zealand.

There were four possibilities for the case, Dr Bloomfield said. Firstly, it may have been a false positive result - though the second positive test has now ruled that out. Second, it may have been an old infection which returned a positive result. The third possibility was the person acquired the infection from travel, and the fourth was that they acquired it in New Zealand.

That last possibility was the one the ministry was working to rule out, he said.

Director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield during a Covid-19 update at the Ministry of...
Director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. Photo: NZ Herald
Dr Bloomfield said health authorities were doing further surveillance testing to rule out the possibility of community transmission around the case and urged anyone who was in Queenstown between July 1 and 4 and people in Manurewa to get a Covid test if they had symptoms.

"I am suggesting that anyone who has been in Queenstown, from the first to the fourth of July ... who may have had or has symptoms, or may be concerned, please do get a test."

He said the man had also been in South Auckland, and people in Manurewa should also get tested.

"If you would like a test, do have one," Dr Bloomfield said.

He said anyone who had concerns or symptoms to get advice from their GP or Healthline.

Dr Bloomfield said there were 10 close contacts and 159 casual contacts on the flight to Christchurch the person took.

There were a further six close contacts on a flight to Queenstown.

Seven other contacts including five household members and two friends were also being tested as they were considered close contacts of the South Korean person.

Of the 10 close contacts on the flight, nine tests had returned negative with one result still pending.

One new case

The Ministry of Health reported one new Covid-19 case in managed isolation today.

The new case is a woman in her 20s who arrived from Ireland via Dubai on July 24. She was staying at the Rydges Hotel in Rotorua and has since been transferred to Auckland for quarantine.

There are no recovered cases to report today, meaning the number of active cases is 24.

There is no one receiving hospital-level care for Covid-19, and the total number of confirmed cases is now 1210,

Reluctant to be tested

Health Minister Chris Hipkins said testing in the community was not at the point the Government wanted.

"People are reluctant to be tested. This is something that everyone needs to be a part of. If you are offered a test you should take a test," he said.

He said everybody in the team of 5 million needed to play their part.

"I don't want to be critical of the New Zealand public here but I am issuing an appeal to the public that we all need to be on our guard."

Neither Hipkins nor Dr Bloomfield had undergone a test. Both said they had been well and not required the need for one.

Hipkins said refusing a test could mean the difference between identifying a chain of community transmission or Covid going unnoticed.

"We don't record the number of people being offered a test but we record the number of tests we do every day. GPs are not required to registered how many tests they offer.

"Across the board, people are looking at New Zealand and seeing it's a pretty good place to be. My message to New Zealanders is to stay vigilant."

"The outbreak in Victoria shows that now is not the time to be complacent," Hipkins said.

He said the latest update of the Covid tracer app had been released,

"I encourage everyone to download the app and start using it," he said.

He said it now allowed for loading in places long after they had been visited.

Data leak

The Ministry of Health has apologised to all Covid patients involved in a recent privacy breach.

On the report released by Michael Heron, QC, this morning into the leak, Hipkins described it as a "disgraceful and grubby act" by two National operatives.

Hipkins said Heron had got to the bottom of the inquiry, and identified improvements for the system. Any further action against former National Party member Michelle Boag or Clutha-Southland MP Hamish Walker was outside his brief.

He said the risk of further leaks to privacy information had now been removed.

A breach of contract notice had been sent from the Health Ministry to the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust following the breach, director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said.

Dr Bloomfield said the transmission of the information by email could have been done more securely and from now on if similar information was to be shared it would be encrypted for security.

Dr Bloomfield said there had since been an audit of the Health Ministry to see that any information being shared was being done correctly.

"One of the first things we will do will send it as a password-protected file", adding he was also looking to share the information by password encrypted means.

 - additional reporting RNZ

Comments

I shall have to watch Crusher's eyebrows when she is addressing the findings of the Heron Report into Walker and Boag's "disgraceful and grubby act". Be interesting to see if she treats it seriously or sees it as a joke.

Sorry, but what mean "anyone who was in Queenstown between July 1 and 4 had symptoms"? There should have a clearly movement track analysis rather then that. The community people at least should be told where he has been and what happen, unclear does cause fear.

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