20 Oct 2020

One new case of Covid-19 in managed isolation today, Ministry of Health confirms

1:18 pm on 20 October 2020
A laboratory staff wearing Personal Protective Equipments (PPE) places a hand on samples collected for Covid-19 coronavirus testing.

Photo: AFP

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

There are no new community cases.

The ministry did not provide a live media briefing today.

In a statement, it said today's case arrived on 7 October from Kenya via Dubai and was taken to a managed isolation facility in Auckland.

"They tested positive at routine testing around day 12 of their stay and have been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility."

The total number of confirmed cases is now 1531.

The ministry said five previously reported cases were now considered to have recovered, bringing the total number of active cases to 33.

"There are 30 community close contacts identified in relation to the port worker case, and all of those have been contacted and are self-isolating."

All test results returned from close and casual contacts of the community case announced on Sunday are negative to date, the ministry said.

Yesterday there were 2715 Covid-19 tests completed, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 1,034,603.

There were no new cases of Covid-19 yesterday.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield told media yesterday that this result was pleasing because it included results from close contacts of the community case he announced on Sunday.

That case involves a marine engineer who probably picked up the virus while working on a ship in Auckland on either the 12th or 13th of October, Dr Bloomfield said.

It had eight crew members from the Philippines who joined the ship in Auckland but were not tested for Covid-19 beforehand.

The ministry provided more information on ships that are connected to Sunday's community case:

Moana Chief

Is the New Zealand-based ship with the New Zealand-based crew the ministry plans to test tomorrow.

"We consider this ship unlikely to be the source of the infection of Sunday's case. The ship is today moving from Marsden Point to Tauranga, and testing of the crew will take place tomorrow to rule it out as the source of infection."

Sofrana Surville

"This is the ship we suspect as being the source of the infection of Sunday's case. The ship arrived in Brisbane last night and New Zealand officials are following up with public health officials in Australia on the health of those on board.

"Australian authorities are conducting testing and serology on all 19 crew members. They will share these results when received and conduct genome sequencing on any positive results that are returned."

The ministry said the investigation into the ship's activities while in New Zealand found there were 11 people who were considered to have had contact with the ship while it was in Auckland. The ministry said all were being followed up, tested and isolated if appropriate.

"Toi Te Ora, the public health unit in the Bay of Plenty, is continuing work to identify people who boarded the ship while it was in Tauranga."

Ken Rei

The Ken Rei remains anchored off Napier. The ministry said officials were determining with the ship's owners the next move for the Ken Rei, in conjunction with public health units and port authorities.

Testing arrangements will be made once a decision about future movements has been made, it said.

"We continue to conduct daily health checks for all 21 crew members on board. All are currently well and not reporting any symptoms of Covid-19, and have been symptom-free for seven days."

Today's update coincides with revelations on RNZ that Auckland's Covid community testing centres have been dramatically scaled back, with just six still operating - and none open on weekends.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins is investigating the change, saying testing must remain readily accessible.

There had been 20 dedicated community testing centres at the height of the latest Covid outbreak but most have been dropped now Auckland is at alert level 1.

In today's statement, the ministry said people can get tested at their GP, or at after hours clinics.

"Many DHBs still have community-based assessment centres for Covid-19 testing, and some DHBs are also doing pop-up testing."

"Wherever and whenever you go to get tested, a Covid-19 test is free of charge."

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