Four new cases of COVID-19 have been detected in New Zealand's managed isolation and quarantine facilities (MIQ), the Ministry of Health announced on Monday.
It follows Sunday's confirmation of 31 new imported cases over the previous three days.
There are no infections currently in the community.
Of the new border cases, three arrived on January 6. One arrived from Russia via Singapore and tested positive during routine testing at about day three of their mandatory 14-day stay in managed isolation.
The second case also aarrived from Russia via Singapore and tested positive during routine testing at the beginning of their stay. The third arrived from Russia via the United Arab Emirates and tested positive during routine testing at around day three.
All three cases are currently quarantined in a Christchurch facility.
These cases are part of a group of international mariners who were initially reported on Sunday. In total, 14 positive COVID-19 cases have been identified in this group: eight are deemed historical; three are new active cases, and further testing of Monday's three infections reported may determine if they are also historical cases.
The fourth case reported on Monday arrived from the UK via the United Arab Emirates on January 9 and tested positive during routine testing at about day one. This person has been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.
One case has now recovered and not regarded as not a case. This case previously tested positive in the UK prior to travelling to New Zealand, and has therefore been determined as a historical infection.
This case is being removed from New Zealand's tally while health officials confirm it has been reported in the UK. The total number of active cases in New Zealand is now 77 and the country's total number of confirmed cases stand at 1866.
The total number of tests processed by laboratories to date is 1,441,163.
As reported on Sunday, genome sequencing undertaken since December 13 has identified a 19 imported cases of COVID-19 with the variant known as B.1.1.7 (the variant first discovered in the UK), and one case with the variant identified as B.1.351, first detected in South Africa.
"Further work to identify and better understand these variants is ongoing in New Zealand and internationally. Current research suggests the B.1.1.7 variant is around one-and-a-half times more transmissible than previous variants, but there is no evidence at this stage that the length of the infection period is any different to any other variant of COVID-19, nor is there evidence that it causes more severe illness. We are also closely monitoring emerging research on the B.1.351 variant," the ministry said.
"The recent increase in COVID-19 cases at New Zealand's borders is expected, given case numbers continue to increase globally."
Health officials are also expecting to detect more historical cases in MIQ due to an increasing number of infected returnees recovering before travelling to New Zealand.
Anyone who has tested positive must meet the recovered case definition before they are allowed to leave an MIQ facility, the ministry reiterated. This includes a period of at least 72 hours without any symptoms and a minimum of 10 days since the onset of symptoms or a positive test.
Since January 1, 2021, people arriving from the US and UK are tested on arrival and required to stay in their room until they return a negative test result. In addition, pre-departure testing will begin later this week (11:59 pm Friday NZ time) with the aim of reducing the number of cases of COVID-19 arriving in New Zealand.
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