No new cases of COVID-19 2 October

There are no new cases of COVID-19 to report in New Zealand today.

That means our total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 remains at 1,492, which is the number we report to the World Health Organization.

There is no one in hospital with COVID-19 in New Zealand today.

Ten previously reported cases are now considered to have recovered, bringing our total number of active cases to 43.

Of those, 32 are imported cases in MIQ facilities, and 11 are community cases.

Yesterday our laboratories processed 4,403 tests, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 970,641.

A note that while our case numbers are low, the pandemic continues overseas and is particularly active in many countries that New Zealanders are returning home from.

As we will continue to see imported cases of COVID-19 it’s timely to highlight our advice to New Zealanders currently overseas that there are some things they can do to reduce the risk of bringing COVID-19 back with them.

In the 14 days prior to departure, people about to return to New Zealand should consider:

  • Avoiding going to parties, social gatherings, or crowded places
  • Avoiding contact with people who have COVID-19 or who have been in contact with cases
  • Staying home as much as possible to limit exposure to other people

Doing these things will help reduce the risk of being exposed to COVID-19 then bringing it home with you. People should also be aware of symptoms and get a test if any develop.

Christchurch returnees

An update on investigations into cases associated with returnees in a Christchurch isolation facility.

The first case reported was on September 19 – that person had arrived from Delhi on August 27, and had completed 14 days in managed isolation in a facility in Christchurch and had returned two negative tests. That person then flew, along with others from the managed isolation facility, on a charter flight from Christchurch to Auckland on September 11.

While we cannot be conclusive, we believe this person was likely infected on the charter flight by a person seated behind them, who had also completed 14 days of managed isolation and returned two negative tests. That person did not have any symptoms but tested positive for COVID-19 on September 23.

Extensive contact tracing has not revealed any other cases associated with the flight or any of the subsequent movements of these two cases, other than their household contacts.

Investigations at the managed isolation facility show that the case reported on September 23 was likely exposed to COVID-19 near the end of their stay in managed isolation and was likely incubating the virus at the time of their day 12 test, which was negative.

While we cannot be certain, our hypothesis is that the virus may have been transmitted to a person (the 23 September result) via the surface of a rubbish bin which was used by another returnee who was likely infectious at the facility (a case from 9 September). This returnee tested positive on day 12 of their stay in managed isolation, however they were likely infectious a few days before testing positive. They tested negative on their day 3 test as they were likely still incubating the virus.

Public health officials and staff at the Christchurch facility have conducted an extensive investigation, including viewing CCTV footage.

A rubbish bin has been identified as a common factor.

This is not dissimilar to the case at the Rydges in Auckland where we believe a maintenance worker may have picked the virus up from a pressing a button on a lift shortly after someone with COVID-19 used it.

It goes to show how tricky the virus can be and that it can be transmitted via surfaces.

The Ministry of Health has now updated its Infection Prevention and Control guidance for facilities so that all bins in public areas will now be no-touch and all rubbish must be securely sealed in plastic bags prior to disposal in the bins.

In conjunction with the team at MBIE responsible for the management of MIFs, we are constantly working to improve on already very high standards of hygiene in our managed facilities.

There is a regular audit programme for managed isolation facilities.

We will continue to consider how managed isolation is managed and have regard to the latest science and research around this disease.

As soon as our initial reported case developed symptoms, they went and got a test despite having tested negative twice in the previous 14 days, and they isolated themselves and their household.

These actions allowed us to quickly isolate, trace, and test contacts of identified cases, and prevented the virus from spreading further in our communities. These people are to be commended for their quick-thinking, and it is a timely reminder to the rest of us to remain vigilant. Be aware of the symptoms of COVID-19, stay home if you are sick, seek advice about getting tested, and continue to record your movements using the COVID Tracer app.

NZ COVID Tracer

There are now 2,289,700 users registered on NZ COVID Tracer.

The app has recorded a total of 81,280,744 poster scans, and users have created 3,506,568 manual diary entries.

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