COVID-19: No new cases in the community, three 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 announced on Thursday.

It follows the confirmation of three new cases connected to Auckland's existing cluster on Tuesday.

Three new imported cases have also been identified in New Zealand's managed isolation and quarantine facilities. 

There are currently 65 active cases in New Zealand. To date, 2,012 confirmed cases have been recorded. 

The total number of tests processed by laboratories to date is 1,683,551.

All 11 cases associated with the Auckland cluster remain in the Jet Park quarantine facility, the ministry confirmed. Genomic sequencing for Case K, an infant sibling of Case I, a Papatoetoe High School student, has shown the child is also closely linked to Cases A and B - two of the original three cases in the cluster. 

"This provides further reassurance that the cases from the additional household announced on Tuesday have not appeared from elsewhere in the community," the Ministry of Health said in Thursday's update.

"All cases that have been sequenced in this cluster are genomically linked and are connected to the cases at Papatoetoe High School."

Home viewing held at residence of latest community cases

The Ministry of Health also revealed that on Saturday, February 20, a private home viewing was held at the residence of the cluster's latest cases - Cases I, J and K. 

"There was a private home viewing, on behalf of the homeowners, at the residence of the family (Cases I, J, K) on Saturday, February 20," the ministry said.

"The viewing lasted half-an-hour and was attended by three people. The agent and three attendees were all contacted by public health officials on Tuesday. They have all been tested and are awaiting their results.

"The home is not regarded as a location of interest as the identities of everyone present is known."

The revelation follows an acknowledgement by Dr Ashley Bloomfield on Wednesday that it "doesn't seem" the latest cases "were isolating as we had asked them to do".

Case I is a casual-plus contact of Case A, a student at Papatoetoe High School and one of the original three cases who tested positive earlier this month. A genomic link between Case A and Case I, another student at the high school, has been established - indicating the latter may have contracted the virus through "transient" exposure to Case A, according to Bloomfield. 

Case J, a teenaged sibling of Case I, had gone to work at Kmart in Botany on both Friday and Saturday last week, despite health officials asking those in the school community and their household members to remain at home until returning a negative test.

New imported cases

One of the three new imported cases is a historical infection. The person, who is not considered to be infectious, arrived in New Zealand on February 11 from Mexico via the United States. They tested positive due to routine testing at day 12 of their mandatory 14-day stay in managed isolation and are quarantining in Wellington. 

The first of the two active cases to report on Thursday arrived from the UAE on February 18. They are a contact of an existing case and tested positive on day five. They are quarantining in Auckland.

The second arrived on February 20 from Papua New Guinea via Australia and tested positive on day three. They are also quarantining in Auckland.

To date, 35 historical cases have been detected in managed isolation facilities out of a total of 202 cases.

Contact tracing update

Of Case A's 31 close contacts at Papatoetoe High School, only one - Case D - has tested positive. The remaining 30 have all tested negative for COVID-19.

All the remaining students and staff at the school are classified as casual-plus contacts of Case A.

As of 8am on Thursday morning, 1,525 casual-plus contacts have been identified at Papatoetoe High School. Excluding the three positive cases (Case E, a sibling of Case D, Case I and Case J), 1,490 have returned at least one negative test result since February 15, the ministry said.

All casual-plus contacts have been asked to undergo an additional test on or after February 22 to ensure none have since contracted the virus. So far, all results from the additional testing have been negative.

"We continue to work closely with the school to ensure all those in the school community who need to be tested are. Where necessary, this includes visits to students homes to make sure people are getting the support they need to access testing and remain isolated."

Fifteen staff members at Kmart Botany have been identified as close-plus contacts. All have been contacted and are self isolating. Eight have returned negative tests so far.

Health officials have also been in contact with 1,236 people who reported being at the store at the times of interest. They have been asked to isolate for 14 days and get tested five days and 12 days after the date of exposure. 

Close-plus contacts

Close-plus contacts are advised to do the same as close contacts and ensure their household members remain at home in isolation - until they return a negative result following a day five test.

Close contacts are advised to self-isolate for 14 days and get tested on day five and day 12.

In both cases, if a close contact or close-plus contact develops symptoms, their household contacts should again remain at home until the contact is cleared with an additional test.

The close-plus category is used when the risk of transmission is higher and ensures the contact's household members are already in isolation should they test positive.

Testing in Auckland

Since Sunday, February 14 - the day the three original cases, Cases A, B and C, were announced - more than 53,000 community tests have been performed in the northern region.

Seven community testing centres are open across Auckland on Thursday. Aucklanders can get tested in Wiri, Otara, Botany, Balmoral, New Lynn, Henderson and Northcote. A dedicated on-site testing station is also open for staff and students at Papatoetoe High School.

Information on locations of interest is available here. This page also contains specific information on what you need to do if you visited a location of interest during the times of possible exposure.

The Ministry of Health website has also been updated with additional information on contact tracing, the types of contacts and when to isolate.