Coronavirus: Three new imported cases of COVID-19

New Zealand has three new cases of COVID-19 - all detected in recent returnees in managed isolation facilities - and no new community cases.

The three imported cases are separate returnees from different flights. One was from the United States on September 18, the second was from London via Dubai on September 16, and the third from Croatia via Frankfurt and Dubai on September 18.

Two of the cases are isolating in an Auckland quarantine facility and one is in Rotorua.

"There are 32 people isolating in the Auckland quarantine facility from the community, which includes 15 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and their household contacts," the Ministry of Health says.

Three people are in hospital with COVID-19 - one each in Auckland Hospital, Middlemore Hospital and North Shore Hospital. Each are on a ward.

"Since August 11, our contact tracing team has identified 4,044 close contacts of cases, of which 4,025 have been contacted and are self-isolating or have completed self-isolation. We are in the process of contacting the rest."

New Zealand now has 65 active cases. Thirty-one are imported cases in isolation facilities and 34 are community cases. Our total number of confirmed cases is now 1471.

On Wednesday, labs processed 6142 tests, taking the country's overall total to 930,779.

There are now 2,259,500 users registered on NZ COVID Tracer.

The app has recorded a total of 72,694,242 poster scans, and users have created 3,238,450 manual diary entries in NZ COVID Tracer.

Update on Wednesday's cases

The Ministry of Health says authorities are contact tracing, testing and isolating close contacts of the three community cases reported on Wednesday. These cases aren't connected to the Auckland August cluster, but instead to the chartered flight from Christchurch to Auckland that a now-positive returnee also flew on. 

"The three people are part of the same family group - two had been in managed isolation in Christchurch and returned home of the chartered flight, while the third is a household contact," the ministry says.

"Two were tested because they were known flight contacts of the original case; the third was tested because they were a household contact."

As part of the ministry's investigation, further interviews have been conducted with the cases.

The family travelled to Taupō between September 18 and 20, where they met with 18 others from five New Zealand locations. 

"Those 18 people, who travelled from Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Christchurch and Hamilton are all considered close contacts. In addition to those 18 people, another 13 people have been identified as close contacts. All 31 contacts have been or are in the process of being tested and all are isolating."

Authorities have been in touch with businesses the infected individuals may have visited while infectious. 

 Places and times of those visits assessed as requiring public notice at this stage are:

  • Christchurch domestic airport, September 11, 1030pm - 12:30pm
  • Hot pools at DeBretts Spa Resort, Taupō, Taupō, September 18, 2:30pm - 7pm
  • Taupō Tandem Skydiving based at Taupō Airport, September 19, 2pm - 3:30pm
  • Just Cuts, Westfield, St Lukes, Thursday September 17, 4pm - 5pm

"The National Contact Tracing team is working to identify other locations of interest and expects to be able to issue exposure notices through the COVID Tracer App," the ministry says.

"It’s pleasing to note the extensive use of the NZ COVID Tracer app by one of these cases has significantly assisted contact tracing efforts.

"Anyone visiting these places at these times should be vigilant of their health and get tested if they develop symptoms."

For more details about where to get a COVID-19 test in the locations from which the travellers came, visit these links:

  • In Auckland, visit Auckland Regional Public Health Service’s website.
  • In Bay of Plenty, visit the DHB’s website.
  • In Waikato, visit the DHB’s website.
  • In Wellington, visit Capital & Coast DHB’s website.
  • In Christchurch, visit Canterbury DHB’s website.

Eighty-six people were on the chartered flight. To date, 70 have returned negative tests, six are previously reported positive cases that do not require further testing, three are recently reported positive cases and seven have pending test results.

The originally reported positive returnee on the chartered flight arrived back from India on August 27 and completed his 14 days of isolation with two negative tests.

However, after leaving managed isolation in Christchurch and returning to Auckland, he tested positive. The origin of the man's infection is under investigation, but earlier genome sequencing found his case consistent with two others who tested positive on a flight from India. It's possible the man was infected on the flight and had an unusually long incubation period.