Six cases at NZ border have had new Covid-19 variant, 19 cases in total in the past three days

Source: 1News

New Zealand has had 19 new Covid-19 cases over the past three days, all of them in managed isolation, the Ministry of Health has confirmed.

The Ministry of Health also said today genome sequencing for six cases in December have been found to match the recently-identified, more contagious variant of Covid-19 known as 20B/501Y.V1, first detected in the UK. 

The cases were transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility. Four of those six cases have now recovered and were able to leave the facility.

Five of the six cases travelled from the UK, and the remaining case travelled from South Africa. All arrived in New Zealand between December 13 and 25. 

The Ministry of Health said there was "no increased risk to the community", with infection prevention protocols still in place. 

"The cases are all cared for with the same high level of infection prevention measures as all Covid-19 positive cases, with daily health checks and use of PPE," the Ministry of Health said.

"The UK variant is more transmissible than other variants of the virus but there is no evidence at this stage that the length of the infection period is any different to any other variant of Covid-19, nor is it more likely to produce severe illness."

In a press conference today, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the detection of the more transmissible Covid-19 variant was "expected" as New Zealand continues to see travellers arrive from more high-risk countries. 

However he says people who test positive for the more transmissible strain of coronavirus "have been treated exactly the same as any case of Covid-19".

"Whilst this virus, this variant, is more transmissible - about one and a half times more transmissible than the other variants - the protocols are the same," he said. 

The new cases announced today that were detected at the border are as follows: 

  • One of the cases is historical. They arrived on 19 December from the United States via Australia and tested positive at around day 12
  • One case arrived on December 20 from India via United Arab Emirates and Malaysia. This person tested positive at around day 12
  • One case arrived on December 23 from the UK via Singapore and tested positive on day eight, after showing symptoms
  • One case arrived on December 24 from India via UAE and Malaysia. They tested positive at around day six
  • One case arrived on December 27 from the UK, via UAE and Malaysia. They tested positive during testing around day three
  • One case arrived from the US on December 28. They tested positive during routine testing around day three
  • One case arrived on December 29 from the UK via UAE. They tested positive after showing symptoms at day two
  • One case arrived on December 29 from UK via UAE and Malaysia. This person tested positive during routine testing around day three
  • One case arrived December 29 from the UK and tested positive during routine testing around day three
  • One case arrived December 29 from Denmark via UAE and Malaysia. This person tested positive following the onset of symptoms on day one
  • Two cases who travelled together arrived on December 29 from the UK via Qatar. They tested positive during routine testing around day three
  • Four cases, travelling separately, arrived on December 29 from the UK via UAE. They tested positive during routine testing around day three 
  • One case arrived on December 29 from the Seychelles via UAE. They tested positive during routine testing around day three
  • One case arrived on December 29 from South Africa via Singapore. They tested positive during routine testing around day three
  • One case arrived on December 31 from the US. This person tested positive on the additional routine day zero or day one testing 
  • All cases are in, or have been transferred to, quarantine in facilities in Hamilton, Auckland and Christchurch.

    Two previously reported cases have now recovered, bringing the total number of active cases in New Zealand to 72.

    The country's total number of confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic is 1825.

    The total number of tests processed by laboratories to date to 1,414,422. 

    In the last update, released on New Year's Eve, Aotearoa had 11 new cases over the preceding two days, all in managed isolation. 

    The NZ Covid tracer app now has 2,427,300 registered users.

    Posters have been scanned 147,185,025 times and users have created 5,937,951 manual diary entries.

    The next update from the Ministry of Health is expected on Tuesday at 1pm.