21 Sep 2020

No new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today

2:41 pm on 21 September 2020

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield says there are no new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand today.

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Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

It was also revealed that Auckland is set to move to level 2, with eased restrictions on gatherings, at 11.59pm on Wednesday, while rest of the country will be in alert level 1 from midnight tonight.

There are 40 people now isolating in Auckland quarantine - 17 are cases of Covid-19 with the remainder being household contacts. There are three people in hospital with Covid-19 - one each in Middlemore, North Shore and Auckland.

There are nine previously reported cases that are now considered to have recovered from Covid-19, bringing the total number of active cases to 62 - of those, 29 are imported cases in managed isolation and quarantine facilities, and 33 are community cases.

The total number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country remains at 1464.

In a conference this afternoon, Dr Bloomfield said the returnee who tested positive last week after being released from managed isolation should be commended for his actions for remaining alert to his health and self-isolating.

"This is exactly the sort of vigilance that will help us keep ahead of the virus."

Two cases in the community were connected to the returnee, who was identified on Saturday. They were household contacts and isolated since the first case developed symptoms.

The returnee was diagnosed after completing the 14-day managed isolation.

Dr Bloomfield said the origin of the man's infection was still being investigated.

The source of his infection is still under investigation and Dr Bloomfield says the ministry remains open-minded on the source, with the possibility that it could have been infection before departure in India, on the flight on the way to New Zealand, during his stay in managed isolation or on the charter flight after he left managed isolation.

CCTV footage of his movements is being reviewed, Dr Bloomfield says.

"Genomic sequencing has already linked this man's version of the virus to that of two other cases from [the India flight], four cases have been ruled out as being linked, and two are still being sequenced."

Three neighbours of the man - who were identified as closed contacts - have so far tested negative, he says.

There were 86 people on the charter flight the man took from Christchurch to Auckland - all were returnees who had completed their managed isolation period. They are being contacted and reassessed. Those who sat in the first nine rows, nearest to the man, have been asked to self-isolate, and testing for those people is underway.

Watch the update on cases and the Director-General answering questions here:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there had been some conversations around whether to add a third test after a person leaves managed isolation.

"We've been having some conversations around whether or not we add in, based perhaps on some risk profiling, a third test after isolation, but keep in mind we have successfully managed 50,000 people coming through managed isolation without issue, so this would be an extra precautionary measure to try and reduce down to zero some of that risk."

She said any movement on that possibility would happen over the next week and be the responsibility of the Ministry of Health to determine whether its needed.

Ardern also acknowledged the deaths of two brothers from Covid-19 recently.

"These deaths are a reminder of just how serious this virus is."

The Ministry of Health says everyone who has been through a managed isolation facility on their return to New Zealand should remain conscious of their health.

Laboratories processed 3568 tests yesterday, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 914,421.

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