22 Feb 2021

Covid-19: Seven new cases today, including one community case - Ministry of Health

2:43 pm on 22 February 2021

There is one new community case of Covid-19 and six others in managed isolation in New Zealand today.

Samples awaiting testing for novel coronavirus Covid-19, are pictured at Biogroup Laboratory's lab in west London on January 21, 2021.

Photo: AFP

In a statement, the Ministry of Health said four of the new cases were historical.

It said the new community case was linked to the existing Auckland February cases and the person has been in quarantine since Friday.

The latest case is a household contact of previous cases D, E, F and G, the ministry said.

"This person (Case H) had previously been tested, returned a negative result and was isolating at home since Monday last week. The person was transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility on Friday 19 February as a precaution.

"Due to the steps already taken in identifying, testing and tracing individuals linked to the February cases, as well as Case H isolating at home since Monday and then being in quarantine for the last two days, the public health risk is considered very low."

The ministry said there were no additional contacts to report from today's new community case because the person was already isolating.

It said four previously reported cases had now recovered.

Today's new cases of Covid-19.

Today's new cases of Covid-19. Photo: Ministry of Health

The total number of active cases in New Zealand is now 54. The total number of confirmed cases is 2001.

Since 1 January, there have been 33 historical cases, out of a total of 190 cases.

Meanwhile, some casual plus contacts at Papatoetoe High School have been required to have a second PCR test - four teachers and 28 students - where a record of the test result isn't available or a more recent test was required.

Close contacts were expected to return to school on Wednesday 24 February or when advised by the Auckland Regional Public Health Service.

The ministry said there are a total of 125 close contacts associated with all cases in this cluster, aside from the positive cases which have previously been reported.

Three previously reported close contacts have been ruled out on further investigation and one infant is not required to be tested.

Of the remainder, 122 of the close contacts have returned a negative test result.

"We are awaiting test results for two people - all of whom are from the medical clinic and relate to Case C, which is considered a low risk exposure event."

As at 8am this morning, a total of 31 close contacts and 1416 casual plus contacts have been identified at Papatoetoe High School. The number of casual plus contacts has increased by three following further investigation.

Of the casual plus contacts (that is other students and staff at the school), 1402 have returned negative results, there is one positive (Case E), and 13 results were still to come.

"Once again we would like to thank the teachers, staff, students and their families for testing and isolating as required to keep their community safe," the ministry said.

The ministry said all scenarios for possible infection sources of the Auckland February cases were being thoroughly investigated.

However, it said the Auckland Airport precinct where Case B works remains the most likely source of the outbreak, but further testing has not identified any potential transmission routes.

"ESR has been reviewing all B.1.1.7 variants identified over the last two months to see if there is any possible link to our new case.

"The Four Points by Sheraton managed isolation facility in Auckland continues to be investigated. This is where there is a possible genomic similarity between a previous positive case (now recovered) and the current community cases - though we note it is not a direct match."

There were 265 returnees at the facility in late December. Thirty six of those were based overseas. At this stage just 11 out of 229 based in New Zealand have not been contacted. We will continue to follow up with these, the ministry said.

"It is important to note that health officials consider this an unlikely source of the infection at this stage but are pursuing it as part of actively chasing down every line of enquiry."

On Sunday, no new community cases and one imported case of Covid-19 were reported.

The ministry said the case in managed isolation reported yesterday was now on board a commercial vessel at sea.

The mariner tested negative on day 1 in managed isolation and then tested positive on day 3. The result of the second test came in after the crew member boarded the vessel. "We are now awaiting genome testing results," the ministry said.

The case had no contact with port workers and given that all policies and procedures were followed the risk to the community is considered very low.

The ministry said mariners were allowed to leave managed isolation and board vessels before a test result was known, to limit disruption to international shipping.

Health authorities remain in contact with the vessel about appropriate quarantine arrangements for all crew on board, it said.

The total number of Covid-19 tests processed to date is 1,662,321. On Sunday, 3882 tests were processed.

This afternoon Cabinet will decide if Auckland can join the rest of the country at alert level 1. The region was plunged into a level 3 lockdown last Monday, following the discovery of three cases of Covid-19 in Papatoetoe.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will announce the decision this afternoon.

LSG Sky Chefs to resume its supply of ready-to-eat meals

In other Covid news, LSG Sky Chefs in Auckland will be resuming its supply of ready-to-eat meals to supermarkets in the North Island.

A woman who worked at the company's laundry was one of the three original community cases reported in this month's outbreak of Covid-19 in the community.

The company, which also services airlines, employs 270 staff.

In a statement, it said all products were removed from shelves after the recent community cases.

Foodstuffs would resume stocking meals and sandwiches later this week in New World, Pak 'n Save and Four Square stores.

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