By RNZ News
Two new community cases revealed today in New Zealand are connected to a returnee who tested positive for covid-19 after completing the 14-day managed isolation process, and one is a student at an Auckland school.
Two imported cases were also reported by the Health Ministry.
There was no media conference today.
In a statement released an hour later than usual, the Health Ministry said the new community case reported yesterday was a returnee who had gone through managed isolation, but tested positive after being released to go home.
“The two community cases are household contacts of the case reported yesterday, which is not connected to the Auckland cluster.
“The case reported yesterday is a recent returnee who arrived in New Zealand from India on August 27 and completed managed isolation, returning two negative tests at the facility in Christchurch, before returning home to Auckland on September 11.”
Yesterday’s case was tested again after developing symptoms five days later, and returned a positive result.
Household contacts self-isolated
“He and his household contacts self-isolated when he developed symptoms. They were all moved into the Auckland quarantine facility on September 18, when the first case returned a positive result.”
The Health Ministry said all identified close contacts have been isolated and tested.
One of the two new community cases announced today from the man’s household is a student at Three Kings School in central Auckland, the Auckland Regional Public Health Service says.
It says the student has not attended the school while infectious and the risk to other students or staff is low.
There is only one close contact in the school community – someone who was not exposed at school – and they are currently in self-isolation.
The school remains open and safe to attend.
The Ministry of Health says the source of the infection was still under investigation, genome sequencing was consistent with two confirmed cases from the same flight from India that landed on August 27.
Extremely long incubation period
“It is possible that this case was infected during that flight and has had an extremely long incubation period – there is evidence that in rare instances the incubation period can be up to 24 days.
This person developed symptoms 21 days after he arrived in New Zealand. If this is the case, it sits well outside the standard incubation period of the virus.
“The vast majority of people who are infected with covid-19 will become unwell within 14 days,” said the ministry.
“Having returnees stay in managed isolation for 14 days remains the gold standard, and this is also the approach adopted by other countries. Our own modelling confirms that 14 days spent in managed isolation with two tests leaves a very low risk that someone will leave managed isolation with covid-19.”
The ministry said another possibility was that the case may have been infected during the flight from Christchurch to Auckland. It said other passengers from that flight were currently being contacted and assessed as a precautionary measure.
“This case is another example of the tricky nature of the virus, and a reminder that anyone who has been through a managed isolation facility should remain very aware of their health. Anyone who develops symptoms of covid-19 should get tested and self-isolate while awaiting results as these people did.”
The ministry said the two imported cases included a man in his 30s who arrived from London via Dubai on September 16, and a man in his 20s who arrived from India via Singapore on September 12.
Three people are in hospital with covid-19 – one each at Auckland City, Middlemore and North Shore hospitals. None of them are in ICU.
Three hospital cases
The total number of active cases is 71 – 36 imported cases and 35 community cases. The total number of cases New Zealand has confirmed is now 1464.
New Zealand’s laboratories processed 5417 tests yesterday.
There were two new cases yesterday – one community and one imported – after four days of no new community cases.
The government is due to announce tomorrow whether alert levels will change in New Zealand this week.
This article is republished by the Pacific Media Centre under a partnership agreement with RNZ.