Student at centre of Covid cluster may have contracted UK variant before mum — Bloomfield

Source: 1News

As they continue to investigate the source of New Zealand's latest Covid-19 community outbreak, health authorities are keeping an open mind that the daughter may have been the first member of an infected Auckland family to have contracted the more contagious UK variant.

Dr Ashley Bloomfield told Breakfast the daughter had experienced the onset of symptoms before her mother, who works at an airport laundry and catering service.

“The mother and daughter seem to have been infected at the same time. The daughter is reporting slightly earlier onset of symptoms,” he said.

“Whilst we go to the mother and say she was working around the airport, we don’t want to go down the rabbit hole and not be open minded about how they got infected.

“The question is: If the daughter was the first one infected, how did she get infected and are there other chains of transmission out there in the community that we’re not aware of?

“We’ve had no signal of that yet but that’s what we need to rule out.”

He admitted it would be concerning if the daughter had contracted the virus first.

“That was very much behind our thinking about my advice for an Alert Level 3 situation in Auckland and Alert Level 2 elsewhere,” Bloomfield said.

“We want to be cautious here until we can rule out that there is this parallel transmission and also get more information about where the infection might have come from.

“We don’t know [the source of transmission] and we’re keeping a very open mind about that."

Three of 33 close Covid-19 contacts of the Papatoetoe High School student have tested negative for the virus, with the results for the remaining 30 tests expected today, Bloomfield said.

He told Breakfast they were particularly interested in establishing if there had been any onward transmission at the school and workplaces.

“Pleasingly, [there] were over 3000 tests in Auckland,” Bloomfield said.

“Hopefully our further testing today and our work on genome sequencing that ESR are doing will shed more light on the source.”

Bloomfield said test results would obviously play a huge role in decisions around alert level changes, with Auckland at Alert Level 3 and the rest of NZ at Level 2 until 11.59pm tomorrow.

“If any come back that are a bit of a surprise — for example, any that indicate there is wider community transmission — that would be significant. Likewise, the more negative tests we receive, that’s also providing an increasing level of assurance that we haven’t got wider transmission.”