Coronavirus: No new COVID-19 cases in community, three in MIQ

There are no new community cases of COVID-19 to report in New Zealand, the Ministry of Health said on Saturday.

Three new cases were picked up managed isolation (MIQ), as well as two historical cases, also both in MIQ.

The new cases arrived from the Philippines, Mexico and the UK. The two historic infections were picked up in travellers from Russia who arrived in Christchurch on July 21.

There are presently 75 active cases, with another 10 having recovered since the last update. 

The total number of cases in New Zealand is now 2504.

The Ministry of Health also said it is still looking into two samples of wastewater that tested positive for the virus earlier this week in New Plymouth, saying it "could be due to recently recovered cases continuing to shed the virus, or could signal undetected cases in the community".

"In order to determine whether there are any undetected cases the ministry is recommending anyone in Taranaki, or who has visited recently, and who has symptoms to get tested. Additional testing capacity has been stood up in New Plymouth to support potential demand."

People who have recently returned from Australia, where an outbreak of the Delta variant is worsening, should also get tested, the ministry said - whether they have symptoms or not. 

Epidemiologist Michael Baker of the University of Otago told Newshub earlier it was likely "shedding" of the virus was behind the positive samples in New Plymouth.

"It's a warning that further investigation is needed," he told Newshub. "One step is to retest the water and see if it's still positive. Then you can think about where people who have left MIQ have gone to, what parts of the country they've returned to and if some of them have tested positive. That's another check to do.

"On its own, it's just an early warning - it's not definitive evidence there is a case in the community… It just means that basically some of the RNA or fragments of the RNA from this virus has been found in wastewater. It obviously is an alert that more investigation is needed."