Coronavirus: One new COVID-19 case in New Zealand

There is one new case of COVID-19 in New Zealand, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed on Wednesday.

The latest infection brings New Zealand's active case total to 11.

The new case is a woman in her 60s, who returned a positive test result while in managed isolation. She arrived in New Zealand on June 18 and travelled on an Air India repatriation flight, code AI1316. She had been staying at the Pullman Hotel in Auckland and was transferred to the Jet Park Hotel - which is operating as a quarantine facility - as per Ministry of Health protocol on Tuesday afternoon.  

Dr Bloomfield also confirmed new figures relating to the testing of new arrivals completing their 14 days of mandatory quarantine or managed isolation:

  • 1010 people have been contacted and have returned a negative test result

  • of these people, 800 were tested for the virus before leaving their managed isolation facility; 210 were tested after departing the facility

  • the 800 people tested before departing managed isolation makes up roughly 37 percent of the 2159 people who left a facility between June 9 and June 16

  • 239 people have been referred for testing and are awaiting their results 

  • the Ministry of Health is now working on the balance of 791 individuals. These people will be contacted via a text. If they do not respond in the first instance, they will be contacted via a phone call. If they do not reply, the ministry may use its finding services - such as Customs or the police - to locate the individual

  • 119 people are not being tested due to age (such as very young children) or they have left the country. Some have refused to be tested.

"We are doing everything we can... we assure New Zealanders these people do not pose a risk to the community," Dr Bloomfield said.

Contact tracing updates

Dr Bloomfield has provided updates regarding the ministry's contact tracing efforts following the two new infections that were confirmed last Tuesday.

The sisters, who arrived in Auckland from the UK on June 7, were granted leave from managed isolation on compassionate grounds to attend a funeral in Wellington. Both women returned positive test results after getting tested in the capital - it was later revealed that the sisters had not been tested for the virus before being released from managed isolation. One of the women has since recovered, it was confirmed on Tuesday.

The ministry has been contacting three groups in relation to these cases, which marked New Zealand's first new infections after weeks of no new cases.

The first group comprises 55 individuals who received an exemption from managed isolation on compassionate grounds between June 9 and 16. One of the people counted among the 55 had their application withdrawn and therefore remained in managed isolation for the duration of their 14-day period. 

Of the 55 people:

  • 34 were granted an exemption to attend a funeral or grieve with loved ones. They either returned to managed isolation or isolated within the community at an agreed location. One was granted compassionate leave due to a terminal medical condition
  • 39 have returned negative test results. Two were tested while staying at managed isolation facilities and two were tested on their days of departure. The remaining 35 were tested after leaving managed isolation
  • 11 have not been tested on the basis of health, age (young children) or due to leaving the country - an increase of four on Tuesday's numbers
  • three are awaiting their test results. One person has not returned attempts at contact and has been referred to enforcement services.

They were required to sign a health release agreeing to follow a set of protocols, dependent on their type of exemption and personalised to fit their individual situations. Protocols included agreeing to take a test at a community-based assessment centre (CBAC); travelling from a facility to an agreed address without leaving their vehicle; wearing PPE, such as gloves and a mask, while with a relative; complying with official COVID-19 guidelines, including physical distancing, maintaining good hand hygiene and coughing into tissues and elbows; and not attending shops, gas stations and supermarkets.

The second group comprises those who may have been in proximity with the two women at the Novotel between June 6 and 13. Of the six outstanding people, one has been referred for testing. Five have been referred to enforcement services. One of the hotel workers remains outstanding. 

The third group comprises 2159 people who left managed isolation facilities between June 9 and 16, which includes the majority of the 55 people in the first group. These people are being contacted as a "broader precautionary approach". 

Dr Bloomfield said, and any people who have not been tested will be referred to a testing facility.