Coronavirus: Six new cases of COVID-19 detected in New Zealand

There are six new cases of coronavirus in New Zealand, the Director-General of Health has revealed - all of which are a result of community transmission.

There are no recent returnees in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities who tested positive.

Dr Ashley Bloomfield made the announcement in a press conference from the Ministry of Health's Wellington headquarters on Wednesday afternoon.

Each of the new community cases are epidemiologically linked to the Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship Church sub-cluster, which is part of the wider Auckland cluster.

The Ministry of Health is now asking all members of the church and their contacts to be tested or re-tested - even if they have no symptoms.

Four of the cases linked to 'new event'

Four of the cases are linked to a new event, which is comprised of a series of "bereavement activities". These include visits to the household of the bereaved and a funeral last Wednesday, September 2.

At least one of the visitors to the household was infectious, Dr Bloomfield said, resulting in a number of other cases.

These visitors were not members of the Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship Church, but were linked back to it as they were unintentionally infected by a church member.

One of the visitors was a known close contact of the Mt Roskill sub-cluster.

Two of the six new cases have been linked to the church, while others are believed to have tested positive as close contacts as a result of the bereavement activities.

There are now 14 cases linked to this new sub-cluster, and 48 people attended the funeral. This new sub-cluster is the only one that has emerged so far as a result of the church cluster.

One of the new cases is a student at St Dominic's Catholic College who was tested for COVID-19 over weekend.

His close contacts are receiving advice on testing and isolating, and arrangements have been made to test staff, students and the wider school community as a precaution.

Another case is a driver with the Northern Express bus service. The Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) will release detailed information about bus routes later on Wednesday afternoon.

The driver had no close contacts from bus routes on September 3 and 4, Dr Bloomfield said. He had been wearing gloves and a mask, was socially distanced from passengers and was not symptomatic at the time he was driving.

Both of these cases are linked to the new sub-cluster.

The numbers on Wednesday

Overall, contact tracers have identified 3346 close contacts since August 11, all but 41 of which have been contacted and are self-isolating.

Following Wednesday's announcement of six new cases, there have now been 1788 confirmed and probable cases recorded nationwide.

A total of 74 people linked to the Auckland cluster are in a quarantine facility, along with their household contacts.

Four people are in hospital, two of which are in intensive care - one at North Shore, one at Waikato.

Four additional recoveries have been reported, bringing the number of active cases to 125 - 43 are imported cases in MIQ facilities, and the other 82 are community cases.

The testing rate picked up on Tuesday, jumping to 8363 tests following a series of days of less than 5000 tests. To date, 831,517 COVID-19 tests have been processed in New Zealand.

Investigation into mystery Rydges worker case ends

An investigation by the Ministry of Health into the case of a maintenance worker at Auckland's Rydges Hotel has now closed, Dr Bloomfield said.

Health officials concluded that the most likely source of infection was a "one-off exposure event" - specifically from surface transmission in an elevator used by a returnee from the US who tested positive for COVID-19.

The worker had been the only case during the latest coronavirus outbreak who couldn't be linked genomically or epidemiologically to the current Auckland cluster.

"Widespread testing around the worker's contacts, both household and workplace, did not find any further cases of COVID-19 - they all tested negative," the Ministry of Health said.

"We acknowledge the support of the maintenance worker, as well as staff and management at the Rydges in Auckland. Case investigations are complex processes and their success relies on the cooperation of the case, their contacts and their employers.

"The cooperation of everyone involved in this situation allowed us to complete a thorough and complex investigation, which allowed us to conclude there was no onward transmission from the maintenance worker."