Coronavirus: DHB confirms possible COVID-19 case on Stewart Island 'not due to active infection'

A COVID-19 scare on Stewart Island has been confirmed as a false alarm.
A COVID-19 scare on Stewart Island has been confirmed as a false alarm. Photo credit: Getty Images

A COVID-19 scare on Stewart Island/Rakiura has been confirmed as a false alarm, the Southern DHB says.

It comes after a child on the island returned a weak positive result for COVID-19 in Stewart Island on Thursday, prompting an investigation by health officials.

In a press release on Friday night, a spokesperson said public health staff now have "sufficient reassurance" that the indeterminate COVID-19 test result of the child was "not due to an active COVID infection".

"Since the initial test, further testing has shown negative COVID-19 test results from the child’s family, both from PCR and serology testing. Further COVID-19 tests from the broader community have also returned negative results," a statement read.

"Adding to the overall assessment, the child tested positive for rhinovirus - a particularly infectious virus causing cold and flu type symptoms reported in the wider community.

"The DHB took its extra precautionary approach based on Stewart Island's / Rakiura isolation, distance from specialised health services and the likely serious community consequences from an outbreak linked to a childcare facility."

The Southern DHB says 195 swabs were collected at the testing centre established on Stewart Island / Rakiura on Thursday and Friday, with all swabs processed so far returning negative results.

"The DHB would like to thank the many residents on the island who have been isolating at home, as requested, until the DHB was able to get to this point in its investigation," the statement continues.

"The individuals self-isolating are now all in the process of being contacted, thanked for their efforts, and advised they are no longer required to stay at home.

"The DHB is pleased with the high level of cooperation from the local people which means public health staff are confident that COVID-19 is not circulating in the community. Thanks also to the team at WellSouth who arranged and delivered the pop up testing centre at short notice, and provided support to the local community."