Caution: One new community case of Covid-19 in NZ today, Bloomfield confirms

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There is one new community case of Covid-19 in New Zealand today, the Ministry of Health has confirmed.

Watch the update here:

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says the case has been caught early and the risk is contained.

Dr Bloomfield says the person is a man who works on ships that have been at the Ports of Auckland and Port Taranaki.

He says the man has been getting regular Covid tests every fortnight.

He returned a negative test on 2 October, on Friday 16 October he developed respiratory symptoms, Dr Bloomfield says.

He says the test returned a positive result on Saturday.

Close contacts of the man are either self-isolating or have gone into quarantine.

“Because the person was tested on the day he was developing symptoms, the Ministry of Health was able to self-isolate close contacts, which is a good reminder to the rest of New Zealanders for best practice,” Dr Bloomfield says.

He was potentially infectious on Wednesday 14 October and Thursday 15 October, he says.

Dr Bloomfield says the man was in New Plymouth working on a ship at the port there on Wednesday 14 October. He was staying at a local motel and hotel on two different evenings.

The motel and hotel have been advised to undergo a deep clean in the rooms he used and staff have been asked to get tested.

It’s not believed the man had close contact with anyone at the motel and hotel, Dr Bloomfield says.

His close contacts with colleagues in New Plymouth at the port are being tracked down.

The ship that he was working on in New Plymouth is due to arrive in Napier today. Public health units will be on hand to undergo tests when it arrives at the port. The Ministry of Health has been in contact with the ship and none of the staff are symptomatic, Dr Bloomfield says.

He says the man arrived back in Auckland on Wednesday evening, he was not at work on Thursday, he was at home.

The Ministry of Health is preparing to send push notifications through the NZ Covid Tracer app to anyone who came into potential contact with the man.

The man was not at the Ports of Auckland during his infectious period, Dr Bloomfield says.

He says the Ministry of Health is scaling up testing resources in Taranaki.

Speaking at a media conference today, Labour leader Jacinda Ardern said there was nothing from today’s new case of community transmission that suggests the country needed to change Covid-19 alert levels.

“It is an example of the system working. I’m absolutely confident we have done everything as we would usually do here.”

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Photo: RNZ

There are also two imported cases of Covid-19 today.

Also one new historical case to report – this was first reported on Friday as a possible case and is now confirmed. The infection happened prior to the person coming to New Zealand and they have since recovered.

One case from managed isolation reported yesterday is now recategorised as under investigation as a possible historical case.

The total number of confirmed cases is now 1530.

The total number of active cases is 42.

One of the new imported cases is a person who arrived in New Zealand on 5 October from the UK via Dubai, they tested positive around day 12, the second case is someone who arrived from Dubai on 13 October, they tested positive around day three of their stay.

Both have been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.

There were 3,390 Covid-19 processed yesterday.

Dr Bloomfield says this new case is a reminder that Covid-19 is not going away anytime soon: “However effective our response might have been to date, the only thing that matters is how effective it is now and into the future. We all need to play our part to eliminate community transmission of the virus each time we find it.”

He says it’s unlikely the ship the man with community transmission worked on on Wednesday 14 October in New Plymouth is the source of the Covid transmission.

That’s because the incubation period would be too short, he says.

Dr Bloomfield says the ships the man works with have international crews but the crew doesn’t get shore leave. He says any people from the mainland who enter the ship have to wear PPE when on board the vessel.

He says the ship the man worked on in Taranaki had previously been to Lyttleton and he believes Auckland.

He says the risk to people in New Plymouth is very low – he had very little contact with members of the public there.

Dr Bloomfield says the Ministry of Health will review if they need to alter their testing regime at ports in relation to the new case.

This case is likely connected to the border and there is no evidence of any onward community transmission at this point, he says.

Yesterday there were three new cases of Covid-19 reported in New Zealand, all in managed isolation.

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