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

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

Meanwhile, routine testing at the border and in managed isolation facilities has identified four new imported cases. One is historical and therefore not considered infectious.

Genome sequencing has established that an Air New Zealand crew member who tested positive for the virus on Sunday is infected with the B.1.1.317 variant, a Ministry of Health spokeswoman said in Tuesday's statement.

Unlike other variants, including those identified in the UK and South Africa, this strain is currently "not classified as a variant of concern".

The case is believed to have been infectious while Auckland was under alert level 3 restrictions last week and as a result, only has a limited number of contacts.

"Therefore, the wider public health risk is low," the spokeswoman said.

Fellow crew members have all returned negative results, with one still outstanding. Of the remaining contacts, more than half have returned negative results, and all 35 contacts from the vaccination centre the case visited have been contacted and given instructions.

The crew member remains in Auckland's quarantine facility. Their household contacts have tested negative and remain in isolation at home as a precaution.

How exactly the crew member contracted the virus remains under investigation.

Testing milestone

Tuesday also marks a significant milestone for the Northern Region - three metro Auckland DHBs and Northland DHB  - with the one-millionth COVID-19 test recorded overnight.

"Testing has played a pivotal role in protecting our border and managing COVID-19 outbreaks in the region. Thank you to everyone in Northland and Auckland who is involved in testing - including in our community testing centres, primary care providers, urgent care clinics, MIQ facilities and laboratories," the spokeswoman said.

"Thank you also to everyone in Northland and Auckland who has responded to the call to be tested over the past year. In Auckland more than 110,000 tests have been completed since February 14 in response to the most recent outbreak."

As of Tuesday, there are seven testing locations open in Auckland communities. These are in Wiri, Otara, Pakuranga Heights, Balmoral, New Lynn, Henderson and Northcote.  

For up-to-date information on testing locations in Auckland, click here, and for all testing locations nationwide, visit the Healthpoint website.

Case update

Two of the new imported cases reported on Tuesday arrived in New Zealand from India via the UAE on March 6. Both tested positive on day one of their stay in managed isolation.

The third also travelled from India via the UAE and arrived on March 7. They tested positive on arrival.

All three are currently quarantining in Auckland.

The fourth case, the historical infection, arrived in New Zealand from the UK via Qatar on December 17. They tested positive on day 11 of their stay in a managed isolation facility. They completed quarantine in Auckland and have subsequently been released.

The total number of active cases in New Zealand is 79 and the total number of confirmed cases stands at 2409.

The total number of tests processed by laboratories to date is 1,786,704.

On Monday, 3526 tests were processed. The seven-day rolling average up to yesterday is 9399 tests.

Since January 1, 37 of a total 242 cases have been classified as historical infections.