COVID-19: No new cases in the community, five new cases in managed isolation

No new cases of COVID-19 have been detected in the community in the past 24 hours, the Ministry of Health has announced.

On Sunday, it was announced that three members of a South Auckland family had tested positive for COVID-19. It remains unclear how the initial case, Case A - who works in the laundry department at the Auckland Airport branch of LSG Sky Chefs - contracted the virus. 

In a statement on Monday, the ministry confirmed that no new infections have been recorded in the community.

The third community case, Case C - reported on Sunday - has been included in Monday's figures.

As of Monday afternoon, contact tracing has identified 10 close contacts outside the family's household. Six of these close contacts have returned a negative test, the ministry confirmed, and four results are pending.

Five new imported cases have been recorded in managed isolation and quarantine facilities (MIQ) in the past 24 hours, the ministry confirmed on Monday, one of which is a historical infection. 

An update on Auckland's community cases

Genomic sequencing has confirmed the first two of the three cases - Case A and Case B - are infected with B.1.1.7, also known as the UK variant. This mutated strain was first detected in the United Kingdom and is understood to be more infectious than the original COVID-19 strain that spread throughout the globe last year.

ESR is now conducting a scan of the international genome database to see if there is a match, the ministry said.

"This result reinforces the decision to take swift and robust action around the latest cases to detect and stamp out the possibility of any further transmission," said the statement.

"An intensive source investigation around the latest cases continues, along with public health actions and alert level changes outlined yesterday, are designed to break any potential chains of transmission."

Serology testing for the three positive cases and one close household contact is also now underway.

The three cases remain in quarantine and one household contact, who has tested negative, is in isolation.

Sequencing was also unable to link the LSG Sky Chefs' worker to any of the cases in New Zealand's managed isolation and quarantine facilities (MIQ), indicating it's "highly unlikely" the person became infected due to a breach in the system, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told The AM Show on Monday morning.

Health officials are currently pursuing several leads and theories, including the possibility that the employee contracted the virus via a transit passenger who failed to remain airside, or due to surface transmission on the clothes of international airline crew, Ardern said.

Close contacts

Investigations will continue on Monday into the three community cases, including further interviews. As a result the locations of interest and number of close and casual contacts may change.

The priority is for close contacts and casual plus contacts to be tested so health officials can understand any risk in the community, the ministry said.

There are a number of locations of interest for people who may be 'casual plus contacts' or 'casual contacts' of the community cases. While risk from these locations is often low, contacts who attended one of the specified locations during the relevant timeframes are asked to follow the directions of health officials.

For the latest information on locations of interest, and to understand if you are a casual or close contact, please see here.

Testing centres

More than 1000 tests were carried out in Auckland on Sunday at testing centres in the community, the ministry confirmed. On Monday, centres are operating under extended hours at Health New Lynn, the Whānau Ora Community Clinic in Wiri, the Otara Community Testing Centre and the Botany Testing Centre.

Further information regarding the opening hours of community testing stations is available on the Auckland Regional Public Health Service website.

A testing site is also currently available at Papatoetoe High School, the school Case B - a student - attends. This testing site is only for students, teachers and their families.

LSG Sky Chef, where Case A is employed, have testing on-site for staff and their families on Monday.

There are two pop-up testing centres in the Waikato region, along with one permanent community testing centre. The two pop-up centres are at Claudelands Event Centre and Otorohanga Sport Club. Opening hours can be found on the DHB's website.

A number of testing centres are also open in Taranaki, located at the Taranaki Base Hospital, MediCross Urgent Care & GP Clinic, Hāwera Hospital, Waitara Health Centre and Ōpunake Health Centre/Coastal Care. Instructions on arranging a test are available on the DHB's website.

A reminder on testing

People who are in good health and have not visited one of the locations of interest are asked not to seek a test, as it's imperative that the right people can get access to testing services.

"We are anticipating high demand at our COVID-19 testing sites and delays are possible, so our request is to please be patient," said the statement.

"A reminder that if you were not at a location of interest at the stated times and you have no symptoms, you do not need to be tested.

"If you were at the locations of interest at the times stated, you need to get a test, and remain isolated until you receive the result."

If you are presenting symptoms but have not visited a location of interest, stay home and call Healthline for advice.

As always, if an individual is unwell and symptomatic, they are asked to call Healthline in the first instance for instructions before organising a test.

Details on new border cases

The first of Monday's five new imported cases arrived on February 13 from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) via Malaysia, and tested positive on arrival. 

Three of the cases entered New Zealand on February 13 and travelled from India via the UAE and Malaysia. All three tested positive on arrival. 

The four cases are currently quarantining in Auckland.

The fifth case to report on Monday arrived from the United States on January 28 and has been classified as a historical infection. They remain in managed isolation.

Six previously reported cases have now recovered. The total number of active cases in New Zealand is 47 and the total number of confirmed cases to date is 1980.

The total number of tests processed by laboratories to date is 1,589,949.

On Sunday, 3132 tests were processed. The seven-day rolling average up to yesterday is 3864 tests.

Since January 1, 2021, 29 historical infections have been recorded out of a total of 171 cases.