Three new Covid-19 cases in community

There are three news cases of Covid-19 in the community, the Ministry of Health announced today.

There is no press conference today.

The ministry said in a statement the three new community cases are a family group linked to a previously reported Christchurch to Auckland chartered flight. They have been self-isolating over the last three days. 

It comes 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.

"None of the new community cases are connected to the Auckland August community cluster."

The ministry also gave an update on the man who left managed isolation in Christchurch after having returned negative tests for Covid-19 and then tested positive in Auckland.

"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.  63 have returned a negative test.

"In tracing this man’s history and how he became infected, we can update that one of two remaining cases from his earlier Delhi-Fiji flight has now been sequenced and been shown to be a close match.  The second result is still pending.

"We continue to investigate how his infection may have come about."

There are 37 people isolating in the Auckland quarantine facility from the community, which includes 17 people who have tested positive for Covid-19 and their household contacts.

Three people are in hospital with Covid-19 – one each at Auckland City, Middlemore and North Shore hospitals. All three patients are in isolation on a general ward.

Since August 11, our contact tracing team has identified 4,014 close contacts of cases, of which 4006 have been contacted and are self-isolating or have completed self-isolation. We are in the process of contacting the rest.

There are three additional previously reported cases now considered to have recovered from Covid-19.

Our total number of active cases is 62; of those, 28 are imported cases in MIQ facilities, and 34 are community cases.

Our total number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 is 1468.

Historic Waikato cluster

For the first time there are also six historical cases being reported, 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. "

Yesterday

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."

- additional reporting NZ Herald

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