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LIVE: Three community cases of COVID-19

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is encouraging everyone to stay calm following the announcement that there are three new community cases of COVID-19 in Auckland.

COVID-19 Response minister Chris Hipkins says there are three new cases of COVID-19 in the community, and one in a managed isolation facility.

“It’s understandable to be concerned about the announcement of three new cases of COVID-19 in the community, but I encourage everyone to stay calm and keep following the usual health precautions,” writes Mayor Goff on Twitter.

“The detection of these cases demonstrates that the system is working and is picking up potential transmission quickly. It’s now up to everyone to keep scanning in with the NZ COVID Tracer app, stay home and get tested if you feel sick, and follow good hygiene practices.”

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is returning to Wellington this afternoon to be briefed on and make decisions relating to the community cases announced today. She will not be attending the Big Gay Out this afternoon.

The three new cases in the community are a father, mother and daughter who live in south Auckland. The mother works for LSG Skychefs, which services planes at the airport.

The three cases are new, active infections. The father's test result came in this morning, the mother's late last night. More testing is being done to ascertain what strain this is, and whether there's a match to any other case in New Zealand.

A close contact of the family has already tested negative.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says one of the cases, the mother, works at an airport laundry and catering facility. She undergoes regular negative surveillance testing, and last tested negative on January 18. She and her daughter began to feel symptoms and sought a further test.

She was last at work on the February 5, and is not expected to have been infectious then.

The source is unknown, and health officials remain open-minded, Bloomfield says.

The woman's main duties at SkyChefs is in the laundry department but she is involved in packing and preparing meal. LSG SkyChefs provides services to both international and domestic airlines, hwever, the woman hasn't been on any flights to collect food trays or laundry.

She was on a fortnightly mandatory cycle and tested negative on January 18 and then was on leave from February 5. The Director-General says because the woman works around the border it is a strong lead, but they can't rule anything out and don’t want to close their minds to other possibilities.

The daughter is a student at Papatoetoe High School, which will be closed Monday and Tuesday as a precaution. She was last present at Papatoetoe High School on Wednesday.

"Work is underway to provide a testing facility at the school," says Bloomfield.

The father is self-employed as a tradesman, and a case interview is underway to determine who might need to isolate and be tested.

In addition to the high school the Pak n Save Manukau supermarket is a location of possible exposure. Two of the cases briefly visited the supermarket.  Anyone who was there on Friday between 3.45pm and 5pm should isolate.

Two of the cases also visited New Plymouth over Waitangi weekend. There will be more information on locations of concern in the town to come.

The only close contacts identified of the new cases are all household contacts. Others who may have been exposed have been contacted.

People do not need to get tested unless they are have been at a location of interest, says Bloomfield. If someone has symptoms, stay at home and call Healthline.

"Our system has swung into action," says Hipkins. The system is gearing up again, he says.

"We do have a plan for when things like this happen."

Keep following the health guidelines, says Hipkins. He has not mentioned any need for an alert level shift.

"We need to stay vigilant and be prepared,” says Hipkins.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff took to Twitter directly following the news of the new community cases in South Auckland.

“Please don’t get a test unless you were at a location of interest as announced by the Ministry of Health or you’re showing symptoms. This will help ensure that the people who need to get a test can access one,” says Goff in a Tweet.

“We all know what to do now, and we know we can beat COVID-19 again if we have to. Please keep following the health guidelines including scanning the COVID Tracer app--this is the best way to keep everyone safe.”

 

Hipkins says more information on the Covid-19 cases would be needed before a decision on Covid-19 alert levels might be made. He says the country remains at alert-level 1 and there's no decisions in regards to cancelling events like the Big Gay Out in Auckland today.

 

“People shouldn't be attending large or small events around the country if they are unwell,” says Bloomfield.

 

Hipkins says how the cases contracted COVID-19 is still a missing piece of a puzzle and they are working to find out whether it's at the start of transmission.

 

The results from the genome sequencing is expected tonight.

 

Hipkins says they are looking at whether there is any potential spread of coronavirus.

 

Bloomfield said there is a strong lead because the woman works close to the border, however he doesn't want to close anything off in case COVID-19 is in the community.

 

On Saturday, health officials confirmed a returnee, who had travelled from Zambia, died at North Shore Hospital in Auckland on Friday.

 

While in hospital, they returned a positive Covid-19 result.

 

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says the patient had spoken to their family every day via zoom or on the phone.

 

The ministry says COVID-19 infection and prevention protocols were in place and followed to ensure the safety of health care workers and the public.

 

There was no risk to the public, and the ministry advised that hospitals were still safe to visit.

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Tom Ranger

Posted on 17-02-2021 12:00 | By

Fair point Slim. But the intention behind the words is what makes it racist. Perhaps It would be better to just refer to it as Covid19A,B,C etc. But that doesn’t give people the location to be aware of. Labels definitely has and is used as a first stage of racism. Dehumanizing.

Racism

Posted on 15-02-2021 17:25 | By

It shouldn’t be called the “UK strain” anymore more than the “China virus”. The mutation was discovered in the UK because they are light years ahead in genomic sequencing, amongst other things to do with this virus, like vaccines, therapies, treatments and research into how it behaves. The UK is leading the way out of this and the world should be thankful.

@The Professor

Posted on 15-02-2021 14:19 | By morepork

My own feeling is very much the same as yours: Close the borders completely for, say, 3 weeks, until vaccination has proceeded to at least some extent... But it is not really practical and viable. The real risk, does not justify what that would cost and the disruption that would follow. Level 2 is a sensible compromise, but, I believe you are right and we are pushing our luck...

@Kancho

Posted on 15-02-2021 14:14 | By morepork

It IS the "more contagious" (UK) strain. The PM has stated that vaccine rollout will not be affected by this. Just keep doing what you’re doing, (hand hygiene, coughing to your elbow, social distancing, and avoid groups... you’ll be fine... :-)

Vaccines

Posted on 14-02-2021 14:46 | By Kancho

Still a long wait for vaccines! So let’s hope this doesn’t spread ! I wonder if it’s the more contagious strain. I’m starting to worry if the vaccine roll out will be in time . The flu jabs last year had problems

Come on Labour.....

Posted on 14-02-2021 13:38 | By

Close the friggin borders immediately!!! NZ is pushing their luck to the limit and this luck will inevitably run out at some point. Enough is enough....close the borders to all. NZ public need to protest in the strongest possible way to force the Government to act!!!