A father and his young daughter have been confirmed as the latest two Covid-19 community cases, the Ministry of Health has revealed.
Watch the update here:
In a media conference this afternoon, Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says they have been moved into quarantine along with the child’s mother, who has tested negative.
Today, genome sequencing showed they had the South African variant and that they were linked to the source case.
The results also show a single chain of transmission, Bloomfield says.
He says there is no evidence of any community transmission.
“We can confirm the father had not been at work … and the child has not been at a early childcare centre.”
The source case – who stayed in MIQ – and one of the other cases had been out of their rooms at the same time – when the virus could have been transmitted.
Therefore all returnees in managed isolation will stay in their rooms after receiving their day 12 test until the end of their stay in quarantine, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says.
He says next week he will receive more advice about improving how MIQ rooms are allocated.
Those who come in on the same flight are already kept together as much as possible, he says.
Other changes have already been made – including day 0 or day 1 tests.
Bloomfield says people who leave MIQ once completing their isolation are told what symptoms to look for and what to do if they exhibit them.
As for contact tracing, the family of the two new cases have been interviewed and locations of interest have been published.
The list will develop, he says.
The two cases have 11 close contacts and five have been tested and returned negative results.
The 168 people who were at the locations of interest related to the two new cases at the same time were alerted via the Covid Tracer app.
At the Pullman Hotel, 201 of the 219 staff working during the period of concern have been tested and 199 returned negative tests, Hipkins said. The others are still to come.
Hipkins says so far, all others who stayed in the facility who have been tested returned negative tests.
He says despite no new guests being allowed into the Pullman, all those incoming to MIQ in NZ will be accommodated – that’s what the contingency spaces left available are for.
The source case – who never made it out of MIQ – only needed limited contact tracing, Hipkins says.
Dr Bloomfield says the close contacts of the Northland case remain in isolation.
They are still returning negative results but contact tracing interviews are still extensive, he says.
A “thorough investigation of someone’s life,” he says.
Bloomfield says interviews with cases also included questions about movements in hotels.
The Pullman had good swipe card data, which helped with tracking, he says.
There have been 6,230 tests undertaken in the past week.
Hipkins says improving testing was always being considered – saliva testing was being trialled as well.
Over 100,000 people have been through MIQ, he says, but there is no “absolutely risk-free pathway”.
Discussing Auckland Anniversary weekend, Hipkins would not say if people in the region should stay home.
Bloomfield says transmission for the new cases from the source case was still being investigated.
They are looking at all options and taking all precautions.
Hipkins wants everyone in the country to be following Covid-19 news, advice and updates from the government.
Hipkins says he can’t guarantee everywhere in the Pullman Hotel is covered by CCTV.
On a Covid-19 vaccine, Hipkins says New Zealand vaccine production capability is quite limited, as far as he understands.
He has repeated that there is a need to allow Kiwis to come home, and that there are already long delays for those wanting to come back.