COVID-19: No new cases in MIQ, 38 people in New Zealand identified as visiting locations of interest in Australia

COVID-19: No new cases in MIQ, 38 people in New Zealand identified as visiting locations of interest in Australia
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Contact tracers have identified 38 people in New Zealand who have visited potential exposure sites in Australia as several states battle outbreaks of COVID-19.

In its daily update on Wednesday, the Ministry of Health confirmed that 38 people have returned to New Zealand after visiting locations of interest in COVID-stricken Victoria and Queensland. 

Thirty-six have already been tested and returned negative results, a spokesperson for the ministry said, with the remaining two not yet due for a test result.

But while Australia struggles with several outbreaks - with South Australia the latest state to be plunged into lockdown - New Zealand has recorded a day of zeroes.

No new cases have been detected in managed isolation and quarantine facilities (MIQ) in the past 24 hours, and the community continues to remain COVID-free.

However, as signalled on Tuesday, the ministry is adding the six cases aboard the Mattina cargo ship - currently berthed at South Port in Bluff - to New Zealand's national tally. Nine of the ship's 21 mariners have tested positive for the virus so far, three of which were reported on Tuesday. The additional six were also detected due to surveillance testing at South Port.

One previously reported case has now recovered, bringing the total number of active cases in New Zealand to 56. To date, the country has recorded 2472 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Update on the Mattina cargo ship

Two of the crew who have tested positive were transferred to hospital for assessment on Wednesday morning, the spokesperson said. Infection Prevention and Control measures were in place, including the appropriate use of personal protective equipment.

Officials, including public health, are now assessing whether the rest of the crew will remain aboard the ship throughout their quarantine period.

The results of additional testing will be reported on Thursday. The Southern District Health Board has plans in place for the appropriate management and treatment of any crew aboard the vessel requiring hospital-level care.

Further information regarding the source of these infections is expected to become available when whole genome sequencing is completed in the next few days.

Update on the Playa Zahara fishing vessel

The COVID-positive mariners from the Playa Zahara fishing vessel have not yet been formally added to New Zealand's tally as further testing is being undertaken to determine whether any are historical infections, the spokesperson said.

Sixteen of the 18 crewmen have returned positive tests for COVID-19.

Travellers from Australia

Public health officials continue to closely monitor developments in Australia and are working with their local counterparts, the spokesperson said.

Quarantine-free travel with South Australia was paused on Tuesday night after two cases of COVID-19 were detected in the community. The state was plunged unto a seven-day snap lockdown in a bid to stop further spread, with the travel suspension remaining in place until a review on July 27. 

However, anyone in the state who ordinarily lives in New Zealand is able to return on a managed return flight. A negative pre-departure test taken within 72 hours of departure is required for eligible travellers.

Quarantine-free travel with New South Wales and Victoria also remains paused. The former recorded a further 110 cases on Wednesday, 43 of which were infectious while in the community. Meanwhile, Victoria reported 22 new cases, allof which are linked to known outbreaks, taking the state's total active cases to 107. 

The situation in Queensland is being monitored, however the state did not record any new locally acquired cases on Wednesday.

Anyone who was in Victoria from July 8 is encouraged to keep checking Victoria Health for locations of interest, which continue to be identified.

Anyone who was in Queensland from June 28 is also encouraged to check Queensland Health for new locations on interest.

People who have been at possible exposure sites at the relevant times should immediately isolate - at their home or appropriate accommodation - and call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice on testing.