COVID-19: No new cases in the community, three 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 Wednesday.

During an update on New Zealand's vaccination programme, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins also relayed the latest numbers.

Although there has been no further evidence of community transmission for 17 days, Hipkins says it serves as a "timely reminder for everyone to keep an eye out for the symptoms".

"We can't be too careful," he added.

Symptoms of the virus include a fever, dry cough, fatigue, muscle ache, sore throat and a loss of taste or smell.

As of Wednesday, three new arrivals have tested positive for the virus due to routine testing at the border and in managed isolation and quarantine facilities (MIQ). 

The first arrived on March 6 from Iran via the United Arab Emirates. They are a contact of an existing case and tested positive for the virus on day 10 of their stay in MIQ. 

The second travelled from Singapore and arrived on March 12. They tested positive due to routine testing at day three.

The third travelled from the United States and landed in New Zealand on March 15. They tested positive on arrival. 

All three of Wednesday's imported cases are quarantining in Auckland.

One previously-reported case has been reclassified as 'under investigation', the Ministry of Health spokesperson reported. 

New Zealand's total number of confirmed cases to date now stands at 2078. The seven-day rolling average of new cases detected at the border is three.

Of the 267 cases recorded since January 1, 39 are classified as historical infections.

Hipkins also reiterated that a weak positive test result detected during routine wastewater sampling at a Papatoetoe site on Friday poses no risk to the community. 

He explained the likely explanation is that former cases are continuing to shed the virus despite no longer being infectious. He says the fragments likely came from previously-reported cases who have returned home after recovering at Auckland's quarantine facility, the Jet Park Hotel.

Wastewater samples this week have returned negative results, Hipkins added.

Another 6047 tests were processed by laboratories on Tuesday, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 1,830,299. Almost 35,000 tests have been processed in the last week, with a seven-day rolling average up to Tuesday of 4,996..

"At this stage of New Zealand's response to COVID-19, we are seeing cases routinely appear at the border in recent returnees in managed isolation facilities," the spokesperson said.

"We expect this to continue to be the case while we remain in alert level 1 with managed isolation requirements in place.

"To reflect this, the ministry is reducing the frequency of media updates to be every two days - Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday."

On these days, the ministry will report any new cases that have been recorded in MIQ since the last update.

"The public can be assured that the ministry will report any significant development, including any case emerging in the community, sooner if required."

At this stage, the next update is scheduled for Friday, March 19.

For up-to-date information on testing locations in Auckland, click here. Information on all testing locations nationwide is available on Healthpoint.