COVID-19: Three new imported cases detected in managed isolation, no new community cases

Three new cases of COVID-19 have been detected in New Zealand's managed isolation facilities (MIQ) in the past 24 hours, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield announced during a press conference on Wednesday.

There are no new community cases.

Dr Bloomfield and COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins fronted a media briefing to discuss the final approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. It was announced that the Pfizer vaccine will only be administered to Kiwis aged 16 and over, with advertising campaigns to begin next week. 

The first new imported case arrived from Germany via Doha on January 28 and tested positive due to routine testing at around day 12 of their stay. 

The second case arrived from Tanzania via Qatar on January 30 and tested positive on day nine. 

The third arrived from the United Arab Emirates on February 7 and tested positive on arrival.

All three are quarantining in Auckland. None of Wednesday's cases are connected to the Pullman Hotel managed isolation facility.

Ten previously reported cases are now recovered, bringing the total number of active cases to 59.

The recovered cases include the previously reported border-related cases, Case B and Case C, which were detected in the community. The case reported on Saturday, later deemed to be a historical infection, has also recovered. 

Case D is the only active case from this group and remains in a quarantine facility.

To date, New Zealand has recorded 1968 confirmed cases of the virus.

One previously reported case has been reclassified as under investigation, the ministry said.

On Tuesday, laboratories processed 2845 tests, and the rolling seven-day average is 3750 tests.

Dr Bloomfield also confirmed that from this week, a running total of historical infections detected since January 1, 2021 will be added to the regular updates.

"We are seeing an increasing number of people who have been infected abroad and recovered, and some people indeed in New Zealand who have been previously infected and recovered," Dr Bloomfield said.

"Our testing in these individuals may detect some residual viral material because the PCR test is very sensitive.

"It's important to reiterate that these historical cases are not considered infectious and so we will not be calling them, or reporting them, as acute cases. We will report them each time they come up as historical cases."

Since January 1, 25 historical infections have been recorded in New Zealand out of a total of 158 cases. All 25 cases have been previously reported by the Ministry of Health.

Since midday on Tuesday, there have been 603,000 scans of QR-code posters linked to the NZ COVID Tracer app, which logs the user's location history in the event of a community outbreak.

NZ COVID Tracer now has 2,562,034 registered users.