Coronavirus: One new community case, two at border

There is one new case of coronavirus in the community - a person linked to Auckland's COVID-19 February cluster who works at a KFC in east Auckland.

The Ministry of Health revealed a trio of new cases in a press release on Friday afternoon, the two others of which were detected in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities.

The new case, known as Case L, is a household contact of the three community cases reported in Papatoetoe, Auckland on Tuesday.

"This person was tested on arrival into quarantine and returned a negative result. This individual then developed symptoms and returned a positive test," the ministry said in a statement.

"As the person was possibly infectious for up to 48 hours prior to developing symptoms, Case L's workplace is being treated as a location of interest."

The workplace is a KFC restaurant in Botany Downs. Case L worked there from 3:30pm on Monday, February 22 until Tuesday, February 23 at 12:30am.

Eleven close-plus contacts who worked at the restaurant during this period have been told to get a test and isolate for 14 days, along with their household contacts.

Members of the public who entered the store during the hours the new case worked are deemed close contacts, and have been told to isolate at home until March 8, and be tested on day 5 (Saturday) and day 12.

KFC Botany Downs staff and customers have been told to get tested.
KFC Botany Downs staff and customers have been told to get tested. Photo credit: Newshub.

Members of the public who went through the KFC drive-thru at this time are casual-plus contacts, and have been advised to isolate at home until a negative day 5 test result is returned on Saturday.

"We are asking anyone affected by this latest KFC exposure event to get tested tomorrow, not today to limit waiting times at testing centres. All contacts should call Healthline," a ministry statement said.

"Detailed advice about the actions required for the different categories of contacts is provided on the Ministry of Health website."

Photos from KFC Botany Downs show cleaners at the store, alongside a sign on the store's door which reads "temporarily closed for a deep clean".

A sign on the KFC store's door says it is "temporarily closed for a deep clean".
A sign on the KFC store's door says it is "temporarily closed for a deep clean". Photo credit: Newshub.

Speaking to media on Friday afternoon, the Prime Minister said Auckland's February cluster is "very different" to the one that emerged in the region in August last year, infecting 179 people.

"We know who needs to be contact-traced, who needs to be isolated, who needs to be tested," Jacinda Ardern said.

"This is a situation where we know the source of the cases and where there may have been contact with others."

Ardern admitted to being "frustrated" by a possible lack of compliance with public health advice, but said at the same time New Zealand needs an environment in which "even if people have done the wrong thing, they still do what we need them to do".

She thanked Kiwis who were complying with the Government's COVID-19 protocols, saying they were "paying a price for everyone" and keeping New Zealand safe.

One of Case L's family members is a Papatoetoe High School student who had already been asked to isolate, as they're a casual-plus contact of another student who tested positive on February 14.

The KFC Case L works at is located just down the road from Kmart Botany, a key location of interest for community COVID-19 cases announced this week.

On Friday, the Ministry of Health revealed 32 staff from the Kmart store had been identified as close-plus contacts, with these people told to self-isolate and get a test. Of these, 24 have already returned negative tests and the remainder will be tested "at the appropriate time".

Another 1742 people who reported being at the store at the times of interest have been asked to isolate for 14 days and get tests on day 5 and day 12. More than 1000 of these people have already returned negative tests.