Coronavirus: Two new cases of COVID-19 caught in managed isolation

Two new cases of COVID-19 have been caught at the border in new arrivals currently in managed isolation, the Ministry of Health said on Saturday.

There are now 16 active cases of the virus in New Zealand, but no reported community transmission.

Both of the new cases arrived from India earlier this month - one a man in his 20s who arrived on June 22, the other a woman in her 20s who touched down on June 18.

The woman, staying at the Grand Millennium Hotel in Auckland, tested negative on June 23. She was taken to hospital for other reasons on June 26, returned to isolation, then tested positive for COVID-19.

"Members of staff [at Auckland Hospital] were aware that she had returned from overseas to a managed quarantine facility and appropriate protocols were followed, including the use of PPE," the Ministry of Health said.

"No members of staff are considered to be close contacts. The patient was cared for in a separate room while in the emergency department. She wore a surgical mask for the duration of her time at Auckland City Hospital. She did not require hospitalisation and the emergency department is the only part of the hospital she visited."

The man has also been staying at the Grand Millennium Hotel, and tested positive on day three of his scheduled 14-day isolation period. 

"The COVID-19 pandemic is still accelerating overseas and new cases are to be expected at our border, which is why we have strict border controls in place," the ministry said. 

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the woman's initial negative test result wasn't surprising, as the disease doesn't always show up early in the infection.

"What this case highlights is the importance of 14 days spent in managed isolation or quarantine together with daily symptom checks."

"Even with all returnees being tested twice during their stay in managed isolation, we continue to do a daily check for symptoms consistent with COVID-19 as part of our broader programme, which includes strict protocols in our managed isolation and quarantine facilities."

The total number of confirmed cases is now 1172 (1522 including probable cases). More than 9000 tests were carried out on Friday, with no cases showing up outside of the isolation facilities. 

So far 48 cases have been picked up at the border.

The pandemic's spread overseas is gaining speed, with the US reporting its biggest single-day rise in cases yet - more than 41,000. More than 496,000 people have now died of COVID-19, and nearly 200,000 confirmed infections are being reported every day.

New Zealand's death toll remains 22.