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Tauranga wastewater Covid testing to increase

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Wastewater testing for Covid-19 will be increased from once to twice a week in Tauranga and Mount Maunganui.

That is according to the Ministry of Health, in response to the current Covid-19 community outbreak. 

The MOH has confirmed a further 11 cases of Covid-19 in the community have been identified so far today, bringing the total number in the country to 21 at this stage. 

On Monday, Tauranga and Mount Maunganui were announced as new locations for wastewater testing, alongside Whangarei, Gisborne, Taupo, New Plymouth, Napier, Palmerston North, Nelson, Dunedin and Invercargill. 

The MOH says that sampling undertaken from Tauranga and Mount Maunganui on Monday and Tuesday this week, as well as Hamilton, Rotorua, Gisborne, Taupo, New Plymouth, Napier, Porirua, Hutt Valley, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Queenstown and Invercargill has come back negative for Covid-19.

As was expected, wastewater testing in Auckland produced positive results this week, amid the community outbreak in the city. 

Sampling collected on Monday, August 16 returned positive results for wastewater from three Auckland sites: Rosedale WWTP (Auckland North Shore), Western and Eastern Interceptors. Sampling from Tuesday, August 17 at the St George site in Auckland, which is a subcatchment of the Western Interceptor which collects wastewater from the Waitakere area was also positive.

“We are expecting further results late today from some samples taken around the Auckland region with additional results expected tomorrow from other Auckland sites, as well as the results of samples taken from several locations in the Coromandel and Thames district,” says a MOH statement. 

Community cases

Two of the community cases were taken to North Shore Hospital overnight on Wednesday. Both are said to be in a stable condition.

All other cases are being transferred safely to an Auckland isolation facility, under strict infection prevention and control procedures, including the use of full PPE, says the MOH.

Of the 21 current community cases, 12 are confirmed as part of the Auckland cluster. A further eight are currently being investigated and are as yet unlinked. One of the cases is an international airline crew member already in the public arena and is unlikely to be linked to the current community outbreak.

“Public health officials are conducting interviews to establish how these new cases were infected and to determine further details of their movements,” says a MOH statement. 

“We will release this information as it becomes available.

“These new community cases are not unexpected and these numbers are expected to grow because of the large number of locations of interest, and the large numbers of people who were at these exposure events.”

New cases identified at the border

Arrival date

From  

Via  

Positive test day/reason  

Managed isolation/quarantine location  

*5 August

Australia

Direct

Day 12/routine

Auckland

5 August

Belgium

UAE

Day 12/routine

Auckland

*5 August

Australia

Direct

Day 12/routine

Auckland

*5 August

Australia

Direct

Day 12/routine

Auckland

11 August

UAE

Direct

Day 6/routine

Auckland

17 August

Tanzania

UAE

Day 0/routine

Auckland

*These cases are in a travel bubble together.

There are two historical cases to report today. One person who arrived on August 13 from Serbia and Montenegro via United Arab Emirates was confirmed during a routine day zero test. The second arrived on August 12 from South Africa via United Arab Emirates was confirmed during a day three routine test. Both are currently in a quarantine facility in Christchurch.

Whole Genome Sequencing

Whole genome sequencing of the community cases that have been sequenced are a close match to a recent returnee from Sydney who arrived on a managed red zone flight on August 7, was tested and returned a positive result on August 9. They were transferred from the Crowne Plaza to the Jet Park that same day.

This person subsequently became unwell and was moved to Middlemore Hospital on August 16.

“This information provides a strong lead in identifying how this outbreak may have started,” says a MOH statement.

“We still expect case numbers to increase before they taper. So we need to be prepared for that. But today we have uncovered a likely source, and that means our ability to circle the virus, lock it down and stamp it out has greatly improved."

Contact tracing

Public health staff across New Zealand are now engaged in contact tracing work in Auckland and the Coromandel.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service, alongside the Ministry’s National Investigation and Tracing Centre and all of the country’s public health units, are working hard to investigate community cases, identify their contacts, tracing those contacts, and ensuring they’re in isolation and tested.

Isolation, when in alert level 4, means isolating themselves from other household members.

“As of this morning, more than 360 individual contacts have been identified. 

“This number excludes contacts from large settings, such as Avondale College and the Central Auckland Church of Christ, which are still being assessed. 

“The total number is expected to increase significantly this afternoon as more contacts are identified, tests taken, and test results received.”

Details of additional locations of interest identified have been added to the Ministry’s website this morning. This will be updated progressively as further locations of interest are identified.

The Ministry’s website will also include advice on what to do if you were at any of these locations at the time when you could potentially have been exposed. Text message alerts are being sent to people who scanned in using the Covid-19 Tracer App at locations during the relevant times.

“If you were at a location of interest, please self-isolate and call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice on testing.”

Crowne Plaza

A bubble of three people in the Crowne Plaza MIQ facility tested positive for Covid-19 yesterday. It was day 12 of their stay in MIQ. These returnees were in a room adjacent to the positive case from NSW under investigation as the index case in the current Auckland community cluster for the period that he was at the Crowne Plaza.

As a precautionary measure, a hold on some departures at the MIQ Crown Plaza hotel in Auckland was put in place last night.

Returnees on the same floor who were scheduled to leave, are required to stay while Auckland public health officials investigate this matter, including reviewing CCTV footage and running whole genome sequencing on samples from the three new cases.

“We appreciate this will be disruptive for those asked to stay and we will support them as much as possible,” says the MOH.

Testing

MOH advice remains the same - please get tested if you have visited a location of interest or have cold and flu symptoms.

Yesterday testing centres in Auckland had their busiest day since August last year. Almost 16,000 community tests were performed across Auckland yesterday, with more than 6,000 at community testing centres and around 10,000 at general practice and urgent care clinics.

There are 10 community testing centres available for testing across Auckland today including four new pop-up community testing centres yesterday at Narrow Neck, St Lukes, Wairau Valley and Albany.

All community testing centres in Auckland are continuing to operate extended hours and will remain open until 8pm today.

Another pop-up testing centre will open in Lloyd Elsmore Park in Pakuranga this afternoon, once confirmed these details will be available on the Auckland Regional Public Health website.

For up-to-date information on testing locations in Auckland, visit www.arphs.health.nz/covid19test. For information on testing locations in Coromandel visit https://www.waikatodhb.health.nz/your-health/covid-19-in-waikato/cbac/. For up-to-date info on all testing locations, visit www.healthpoint.co.nz/covid-19/

The total number of Covid-19 tests processed by laboratories to date is 2,584,336.

Yesterday, 12,885 tests were processed across New Zealand.

The seven-day rolling average is 5,966.

Section 70

A Section 70 has been issued for household contacts of a person who has been at a NZ location of interest. This is for the purpose of preventing further outbreak or spread of Covid-19, which is considered to be a significant risk to the public.

The direction applies to any person who is a household contact of a person who has attended the locations of interest at the times and dates as set out in Schedule 1 or who has been classified as a contact.

These people are required to isolate or quarantine at their usual place of residence (which for visitors, includes accommodation), except as required to report and submit for testing, until the person who has been at a location of interest has received a negative day five test or until after an earlier negative test if contact between the two people has ceased.

There is a separate Section 70 notice that applies to household contacts of those who have been at locations of interest. They are required to isolate until the household member has returned a negative day-five test result.

“It is very important that essential workers regularly check the locations of interest so they can isolate immediately if they have been at any of these locations at the relevant time(s).”

Failure or refusal to comply with this direction is an offence under s 72 of the Health Act 1956.

Vaccination update

More than 2.61 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been administered to date (to 11.59pm on 18 August). Of these, 1.65 million are first doses and 954,000 are second doses.

Nearly 144,000 Mâori have received their first vaccination. Of these, nearly 88,000 have also had their second vaccinations.

More than 96,000 doses have been administered to Pacific peoples. Of these, around 60,000 have also received their second doses.

NZ Covid Tracer

NZ Covid Tracer now has 2,948,521 registered users.

Poster scans have reached 325,835,903 and users have created 13,242,050 manual diary entries.

There have been 758,658 scans in the 24 hours to midday yesterday.

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2 Comments
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We deserve a break...

Posted on 20-08-2021 12:32 | By morepork

Looking at these numbers, it is obvious that a huge amount of work has been done by health staff, lab staff and the general public. It isn’t as if we don’t deserve to be free of this plague...

Mind blowing

Posted on 20-08-2021 10:43 | By

Just when you think maximum incompetence had peaked you learn that waste water testing has not been done in Tauranga and the Mount until now even though we are an international port and water tests are a known early indicator. Sad indictment.