COVID-19 update: 31 new coronavirus cases in managed isolation, additional 11 UK variant infections

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield.
Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield. Photo credit: Getty

Thirty-one new coronavirus infections have been recorded in New Zealand's managed isolation facilities since the last update on Thursday, the Ministry of Health says.

Eleven more cases of the infectious UK variant have been detected, while a variant from South Africa has also been confirmed.

Of the 31 new cases, 11 are part of a group of 190 international mariners who arrived in New Zealand on Wednesday. They are in managed isolation and quarantine facilities in Christchurch.

A Ministry of Health spokesman said 18 previously reported COVID-19 cases have recovered since Thursday, bringing New Zealand's total active infections to 75.

Overall, New Zealand labs have processed 1,438,446 coronavirus tests since the pandemic began.

The ministry said that following genomic testing, it has found more cases of the UK variant, bringing the total detected since December 13, to 19. One case of the South African variant has also been identified.

"Most of these people have come into New Zealand from the UK, via the UAE, Qatar or Singapore," the ministry spokesman said.

Countries around the world have cut off travel links to the UK to stop the spread of the new variant, which scientists have said is between 40 and 70 percent more transmissible than the original virus.

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced last week that from January 15, all travellers from the UK will need to return a negative COVID-19 test prior to departure.

International mariners

The Ministry of Health said of the 11 international mariner cases, eight are historical and three are active.

"A number of mariners were not able to board flights to New Zealand after testing positive during pre-departure testing," the spokesman said.

"The managed isolation and quarantine facilities have strengthened procedures and protocols to ensure the risk to others in the group and in the facilities is reduced."