Coronavirus: New community COVID-19 case detected in New Zealand with no link to border

A woman in her 20s has contracted coronavirus through community transmission, the COVID-19 Response Minister has announced.

Chris Hipkins says the case, in Auckland central, is different to other recent community cases in that it's linked neither to the border, nor to a managed isolation or quarantine (MIQ) facility.

It's still only early days, with Hipkins learning of the case late on Thursday morning and information still coming through. The Ministry of Health will hold another presser at 5pm on Thursday to provide a further update.

The new community case is in addition to two other cases - one a community case linked to the Defence Force workers at the Auckland quarantine facility, known as Case C, and the other a recent returnee in an MIQ facility.

But it's the woman's case which worries health officials most, with Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield revealing she became symptomatic on Monday.

She then received a test on Tuesday, with a positive result coming through on Thursday morning. She has since been moved to the Jet Park Hotel, Auckland's quarantine facility.

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) is interviewing the case to identify her close and casual contacts and understand her movements.

It's understood the woman - a student at the Auckland University of Technology - lives alone, went on limited outings and hadn't visited a supermarket while infectious.

Nor had she attended classes or lectures since mid-October.

However she did go to work at A-Z Collection on High St, in Auckland's CBD.

The Ministry of Health is now asking people who visited A-Z Collection, as well as residents or visitors of the Vincent Residency on Vincent St from November 7-12, to seek a test and isolate until the result comes through.

In addition, Aucklanders with cold or flu symptoms are urged to contact Healthline and organise a test. Dr Bloomfield is also encouraging people in the region to wear a mask and socially distance on planes and public transport.

The new community case works at A-Z Collection on High St, in Auckland's CBD.
The new community case works at A-Z Collection on High St, in Auckland's CBD. Photo credit: Google Maps

Additional locations of interests will be investigated as they are identified, with health officials urgently working to trace the person's movements and genome testing to be undertaken overnight.

At this stage, the ministry is not advising any change to alert levels, though decisions will be constantly reviewed as more information comes to light. Any such decision will be preceded by a Cabinet meeting.

The other cases

While the new community case without links to MIQ or the border is taking up most of health officials' attention at the moment, one of the other two cases announced on Thursday will also be cause for concern.

The other community case is the third linked to the November cluster that began with the infection of a Defence Force staffer working at the Jet Park Hotel last week.

That worker passed COVID-19 onto another - Case B - at a meeting last week, and it's now emerged that one of their contacts has also been infected.

This person - Case C - is also a Defence Force worker, and was identified as a close contact because they attended a social lunch together. Dr Bloomfield says they didn't develop symptoms until Monday, and had tested negative on Sunday.

At this point, the household contacts for Case C have all tested negative, and are in isolation. Other contacts for Case B have also returned negative results.

The sole imported case announced on Thursday arrived on November 9 from Los Angeles, US, and is now staying at the Jet Park quarantine facility.