Whole genome sequencing carried out overnight has confirmed the two border-related COVID-19 cases that were reported out of cycle last night are observed to be variant 20C/501Y.V2 (lineage B.1.351), first identified in South Africa.
From the information we currently have, it appears these cases have a link to the managed isolation facility at the Pullman Hotel however further investigation is currently underway to confirm how close the lineage of these cases is to the previously reported case in Northland.
The two latest cases have now been transferred to a quarantine facility in Auckland, separate from the Pullman. A third family member, who has returned negative COVID-19 tests, is currently isolating at home.
Eight locations of interest have been identified in relation to the two latest cases and are listed on our website. From information available so far, we have identified 11 close contacts – all of whom are isolating and have had their first test. Five results have come back negative, and the results of the remainder are still to come back.
Investigations will continue today into the latest two cases, including further interviews with contact tracing staff. As a result, a potential increase in the number of locations of interest, close and casual plus contacts is not unexpected.
Locations of interest
From the information we have to date, we know the risk of transmission from any particular location of interest is low.
The public health advice to businesses is that all the staff on-site at the same time as the case should get tested and self-isolate until they receive a negative test result.
Further advice on cleaning of businesses is available on the Ministry website.
Testing in the community
Two new pop up testing stations have been opened north of Auckland to manage the expected demand in testing over the coming days.
The pop up testing centres are in Orewa and Albany and are in addition to the six regional community testing centres and a number of other primary care clinics offering testing.
We anticipate the potential for some delays at the some of the sites, which is why extra staff from other sites south of Auckland have been transferred to the North Shore to help out, while public health staff will be walking through any queued cars, carrying out welfare checks, and ensuring people waiting are looked after.