Government cracks down on ports of Auckland COVID-19 testing amid outbreak

The government is cracking into COVID-19 testing at the ports of Auckland to try and keep the latest outbreak under control.

From Friday, the government began targeting ports as a potential method of entry for COVID-19. 

"We are being absolutely scrupulous and checking all of the areas where it could have come in, we are being very vigilant at the ports," the director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said on Friday. 

That vigilance means enforcing increased levels of testing.

The focus on the ports comes amid positive tests for workers at Americold, one of the businesses linked to the south Auckland family at the heart of the latest outbreak.

Nurses like Kathleen Mar-ie are putting in the hours to keep everyone safe.

"We can do the mahi and help serve our community and get rid of this horrible visitor that has come in," Mar-ie said.

And also, with genome testing so far unable to pinpoint a link between the latest outbreak and any other cases here.

Scientists from the ESR and the University of Otago have been extracting the Ribonucleic Acid, or RNA, from the positive samples. 

They have found it is from a family called B.1.1.1. While they have a detailed analysis of the majority of cases, even with more sequencing today there is still "no match". This includes recent managed isolation cases - "no match."

The scientists say this raises new possibilities - the latest strain of COVID-19 could have come in on an airline worker, or through the port where workers come into contact with people on ships.

Ports of Auckland spokesman Matt Ball says entry by sea can not be ruled out.

"We've had pretty strict controls in place since the start of the year - since February but you just never know... so it's really good that we are being tested - that everyone is being tested," Ball said.