Coronavirus: Virus found in Christchurch wastewater but likely connected to positive MIQ cases - Ministry of Health

COVID-19 has been detected in Christchurch's wastewater - although it's likely to be the result of infected recent returnees currently in managed isolation and quarantine.

Director of public health Dr Caroline McElnay says the viral fragments were detected in samples taken from the city's catchment on Saturday and Monday, following previous negative results last week.

"[The Institute of Environmental Science and Research] does stress that there are three active cases in Christchurch managed isolation facilities and that is consistent with the virus being shedded from those cases," she told reporters on Thursday afternoon.

Further sampling from around Christchurch will be taken today and the results of this are expected by the end of the week.

All other wastewater sites around the South Island continue to be negative.

During New Zealand's current outbreak, all positive cases have been found in either Auckland or Wellington. None so far have been reported in the South Island.

Elsewhere in the country, further wastewater samples are being collected from Warkworth, north of Auckland, after positive results were found earlier this week. And in Wellington, COVID-19 has only been detected in samples taken from the Moa Point site in southern Wellington. The Ministry of Health believes this reflects known cases shedding the virus in the catchment.

There have been several previous instances of COVID-19 being found in wastewater but it is either connected to a MIQ facility or a returnee who is now at home after being discharged and they're shedding the virus. Earlier this year, fragments of the virus were found in wastewater in Wellington and New Plymouth, although both were connected to people who had recently left MIQ facilities after contracting the virus.

The total number of cases in New Zealand's current outbreak currently stands at 277, 68 of which were reported on Thursday.