Coronavirus: One new imported case of COVID-19 in New Zealand

There is one new imported case of COVID-19 and no new community cases in New Zealand,  Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced on Tuesday. 

It follows the detection of five new cases in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities on Monday.

The new imported case arrived in Auckland on October 19 from the UK, via Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia on flight EK448. They are now in the Auckland quarantine facility, the Jet Park Hotel.

Seven people have recovered from the virus as of Tuesday, bringing the active case total to 68.

New Zealand's confirmed case total to date now stands at 1585.

On Monday, 2311 tests were processed, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 1,072,492. Dr Bloomfield acknowledged there were "good testing numbers" despite it being a long weekend for Labour Day.

Seven Auckland community-based testing centres remain open, although swabs can also be performed at urgent care clinics and general practices across Auckland.

Since the announcement of the new community case - a port worker who had been on-board ships docked in Auckland and New Plymouth prior to his positive result - on October 18, about 20,000 tests have been performed in the community, Dr Bloomfield said.

This wider testing has provided reassurance that there are no undetected infections in the community, associated with the small number of cases that originated from the port worker's infection.

The NZ COVID Tracer app has reached a "significant milestone" as of Tuesday, Dr Bloomfield said, with 100,000,000 poster scans recorded to date.

Kiwi child who tested positive in Japan

A Kiwi toddler who returned a weak positive result for COVID-19 upon arrival in Japan on Friday is a suspected historical case or false positive, Dr Bloomfield said.

It was reported on Monday that the child had returned the weak positive result after health workers at the border performed a rapid antigen test, which is different to the PCR swabs used in New Zealand. 

Health officials have worked with their counterparts in Japan to organise a second test for the toddler, which is currently set for Thursday (local time).

The family members - comprising of the toddler, the mother, and two other siblings under the age of five - are currently in managed isolation, as well as the other parent, who had already been in Japan.

The other family members returned negative test results on arrival, Dr Bloomfield said, and had also tested negative last Tuesday prior to their departure.

In accordance with our precautionary approach, several close family members in New Zealand were tested and asked to self-isolate. All have tested negative, Dr Bloomfield said.

The child had been attending a Napier-based childcare centre - which remains open - a couple of days before the family's flight. The local public health unit has been in direct contact with the centre, and families with children there have been informed of the situation and advised there is a low risk. Anyone with respiratory symptoms is getting tested as a precaution.

"We think it is very low risk, especially because all three members of this family had returned negative tests before they departed," he said.

On Thursday, the family flew to Japan from Napier via Auckland on flight NZ5018. Passengers on the same flight have been asked to remain alert for any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 as a precautionary measure.

A possible explanation is that the child may have been infected earlier in the year when the family had previously been in Japan, Dr Bloomfield said.

International fishermen in Christchurch

Dr Bloomfield clarified that 29 of the foreign fishermen who arrived in New Zealand on October 16 are confirmed cases of COVID-19. Eighteen tested positive due to routine testing at day three of their stay, and an additional eight tested positive at day six - a precautionary step that required the group to be re-tested. Three further cases were confirmed at day nine, which involved the precautionary re-testing of close contacts - or those who were sharing a room with a confirmed case. More re-testing will take place on day 12, which is tomorrow.

The Sudima Christchurch Airport has served as a dedicated managed isolation facility for the fishermen, who arrived on a chartered flight from Moscow on Friday, October 16.

Dr Bloomfield said the arrival of the next cohort at the Sudima Christchurch Airport will be delayed until the ministry has cleared the fishing crews as safe to leave the facility. Before they are able to depart, health officials will ensure the confirmed cases have recovered and there is no evidence of any other infections among the fishermen. 

Ken Rei ship

The Ken Rei, a ship boarded by the port worker who was recorded as a community case on October 18, docked in Napier on Tuesday morning.

All 21 crew members have returned negative test results, Dr Bloomfield said, and none are presenting symptoms of the virus. The crew will remain on-board the Ken Rei while it is docked in Napier, before it departs to Tauranga.