COVID-19: Genome sequencing begins for reclassified 'under investigation' case

Genomic sequencing is underway for a COVID-19 case that has been reclassified as 'under investigation'.

This case was announced on Wednesday and was initially believed to be linked to the Auckland cluster, however there is currently no clear connection to this group.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says this person visited Auckland's St Luke's Mall on the morning of August 12, and anyone who visited at that time should keep an eye out for any symptoms.

The mall has been shut since this date due to alert level 3 restrictions, Dr Bloomfield says.

He says the genomic sequencing results are expected either later on Thursday or Friday morning.

"The genomic sequencing is underway at the moment and that will give us the strongest hint about where it might be linked to. So, still under investigation both epidemiologically and the genomic sequencing."

But Dr Bloomfield couldn't confirm whether the case is definitely linked to the cluster or not. He also couldn't say at this stage whether this case was a third strain of the virus in the community.

"I just can't say anymore about that because I don't know."

The individual's contacts have been isolated, and both household and work close contacts have been tested. They are awaiting results.

The Auckland outbreak was confirmed nine days ago. When asked if the source of these latest cases would ever be established, Dr Bloomfield said ESR will continue to test previous samples from managed isolation cases to help find a link to the community outbreak.

"They've already done between 20 and 30, and they are continuing to get samples and will continue to test those to see if they can identify if one of those people who became positive while in managed isolation was the same genome type - that B.1.1.1," he says.

"That will be of great assistance if we do find a match there. If there is no match, again, that doesn't mean that there wasn't possibly a match. But not all the samples, unfortunately, are able to be tested to get that genome sequencing."