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Home Health Coronavirus Covid 19: Health officials provide update on community case

Coronavirus Covid 19: Health officials provide update on community case

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KEY POINTS:

* The new case is a 56-year-old woman.
* She travelled to Spain and the Netherlands late last year before returning to NZ on December 30.
* She went through MIQ at Auckland’s Pullman Hotel and was released on January 13 after testing negative.
* She then travelled around the southern part of Northland and became symptomatic on January 15.
* The strain is unknown but officials are acting on the assumption it is one of the new, more transmissible strains.
* She has four close contacts who have been tested and are isolating.
* Officials say it is ‘too early’ to speculate on any further response.

A 56-year-old woman visited 30 locations around southern Northland including cafes, restaurants and tourist attractions before developing symptoms and testing positive for Covid-19.

Officials are scrambling to contact trace the woman’s movements and notify anyone who may have come into contact with her.

Four close contacts have already been identified and put into isolation.

The woman has not been sent to a Government-run quarantine centre but is instead self-isolating at her Northland home.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins and Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield gave details about the community case at a press conference at the Beehive this afternoon.

The woman arrived from London on December 30 and stayed at the Pullman Hotel MIQ facility in Auckland. The origin of the infection is not yet known and the strain is unknown.

It’s too early to consider the response to the case, Hipkins said.

The woman tested negative twice during her stay in MIQ before she was released.

She did not have symptoms in MIQ. She left MIQ on January 13 and returned to her home just south of Whangarei.

Ashley Bloomfield said the person travelled in Spain and the Netherlands before arriving in New Zealand.

She had been to about 30 different locations in recent days, including areas around Mangawhai, Dargaville and Helensville.

She had four close contacts – both household contacts and some retail contacts. Her household contacts were being isolated and tested.

She had been to cafes, restaurants, retail outlets and some Air BnB accommodations.

Businesses the woman visited were being contacted as soon as possible, but some were not open today.

The woman had not been to any large events such as concerts.

Ministry officials were contacting the places she had been and would put information on its website as soon as those places were notified.

“We are asking people who have been at those locations to stay at home and call Healthline for information on when to get a test.”

The woman was called on January 16 and reported no symptoms. She felt very mild symptoms on January 15.

She did not associate those symptoms with Covid, but once they worsened she got a test. The result came back late last night.

The woman was currently at home, and did not need hospital care.

The woman was “assiduous in using the Covid tracer app”, Bloomfield said.

If anyone was symptomatic, wherever they are in New Zealand, they should get tested, Bloomfield said.

Extra testing stations were going into Northland, especially around Mangawhai.

Hipkins said MBIE was reviewing the CCTV footage at the Pullman, and contacting all returnees from the hotel since January 1.

Those people were asked to get a test and stay home until they had a result. It involves about 600 people.

Staff were also being asked to get a test if they had not had one in the last few days.

Bloomfield said the public health unit in Auckland, which dealt with Northland, was at work and extra PPE had been sent up.

Between 12 and 14 other travellers had been tested as positive with Covid-19 during the period the community case was in MIQ. A number of those had been the UK or South Africa variants.

Hipkins said in Northland, anybody who got a push notification should get a test,
especially if symptomatic.

Hipkins said the advice was that it was not necessary to have extra testing in MIQ.

As well as the day 3 and 12 tests, others at more risk were tested more frequently and there were follow-up calls.

About 600 people were in the Pullman when the woman was there, and the airline the woman travelled on had been notified.

All those at the same places around the revelant times were advised to isolate and get a test.

Bloomfield said contact tracing started about 48 hours before the woman became symptomatic.

Hipkins said the biggest constraint around vaccinations was when New Zealand could get them into the country. “We will vaccinate as soon as we get vaccinations into the country.” He said demand had meant manufacturers could not keep up.

It was likely the initial shipments would be small, so they would be heavily prioritised to border workers and their families.

To reports of runs on supermarkets, Hipkins said there was no need to panic. He said he was not foreshadowing any alert level changes, but if there was one supermarkets had always been able to re-stock quickly.

The last case of community transmission in New Zealand was on November 18.

Earlier today the Ministry of Health reported that there had been eight new Covid cases in managed isolation since Friday.

Two of the cases came from South Africa, two came from the US, as well as a case each from the UK, United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia and India.

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Four travelled via UAE and Malaysia.

More to come

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