Air NZ covid case not linked to New Zealand genomes – one new case

Air New Zealand ... crew member genome sequencing indicates the person was likely exposed to the virus overseas. Image: RNZ

RNZ News

Genome sequencing has showed the Air New Zealand crew member who tested positive for covid-19 in China is not linked to known cases in New Zealand, the Ministry of Health says.

In a statement, the ministry reported one new case of the coronavirus in managed isolation today.

The person arrived on November 14 from the United Kingdom via the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia and tested positive around day 12 of their stay in managed isolation.

The ministry said genomic results had been returned for the case of the Air New Zealand crew member who tested positive for covid-19 on November 18 after arriving in Shanghai, China, and was confirmed with testing in New Zealand yesterday.

This indicates the person was likely exposed to the virus overseas, but the ministry said it would continue to take precautions because the source of infection was still unknown.

The ministry had been acting as though it was a case of transmission from New Zealand out of an “abundance of caution”.

The crew member returned to New Zealand yesterday morning on a flight with crew in PPE, who were being monitored, isolated and tested.

Contacts in isolation
The ministry said it had incorrectly reported yesterday that all the person’s contacts were in isolation, saying one person of the 11 reported yesterday was a “potential” close contact under investigation.

Today, the ministry said 12 close contacts had been identified.

All the contacts had undergone further testing, with nine returning negative tests, the ministry said.

It said it sent notifications through the Covid Tracer app for six locations visited by the crew member, which by 10am had been received by 96 app users.

In a separate statement this afternoon, the ministry also announced new rules for frontline managed isolation workers, including nurses and defence force staff.

There was no live briefing today.

New Zealand’s total number of confirmed cases is 1684. The Air New Zealand crew member is not counted in this figure, as it was initially reported in China, so is being counted as a case in China.

Laboratories completed 9083 tests yesterday, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 1,252,601.

Yesterday, there were eight new cases in managed isolation, including five from one family.

This article is republished by the Pacific Media Centre under a partnership agreement with RNZ.

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