Update on Northland case, and 6 cases of COVID-19 in managed isolation

The Ministry of Health can today confirm that the woman who recently travelled from overseas and completed their stay in managed isolation in the Pullman hotel in Auckland has subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.

The woman and her only close household contact are isolating at their home south of Whangarei.

The Northland District Health Board Medical Officer of Health has undertaken an assessment of the case and their close household contact, and it has been determined that the pair are currently able to isolate at home. The situation will be monitored closely to ensure there is no public health risk. 

Following a further interview with the woman, contact tracing has now found the woman has 15 close contacts. All 15 close contacts have been contacted by health officials, are self-isolating and have been tested.

Of the 15 close contacts, so far we know that two have returned negative test results.

Whole genome sequencing results for the woman have confirmed that she has contracted the South African variant, B.1.3.5.1.

We continue to monitor advice from the World Health Organization on this variant. Currently there’s limited epidemiological data available on the B.1.3.5.1 variant, making it harder to study. The preliminary concern of this variant is that the mutation affects the body’s immune response to it and its transmissibility.

New forms, or variants, of the virus have become increasingly common around the world – and we have expected to see them here in New Zealand.

Link to managed isolation

Whole genome sequencing has linked the case to another guest who was in the managed isolation facility. Their genome sequencing results are identical, leading us to suspect a managed isolation facility transmission.

Early information suggests the transmission occurred between 9 January and 13 January.

Routine testing picked up COVID-19 in the other guest, and this person was transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility on 13 January.They have been classified as recovered and were due to be released but will be asked to stay on for now.

As expected, there have been other cases in the same MIF and we are investigating any possible links between cases to exclude transmission within the MIF.

COVID Tracer app notifications and Bluetooth

COVID Tracer app notifications were issued last night to more than 160 people who visited locations of interest and used the COVID Tracer App.

People who were in the vicinity of the person and have enabled Bluetooth functionality on their app have started to receive notifications. Pleasingly 200,000 people enabled Bluetooth on the app yesterday.

A list of 30 locations of interest is available on the Ministry’s website.

Public Health clinical staff made calls to the businesses at the locations of interest last night to provide public health advice. Additional followup is happening today.

We do need to all remember it’s important to use the COVID Tracer app to scan QR codes and turn on Bluetooth functionality.

Community testing stations

Northland and Auckland health officials have worked to provide additional testing sites in the area that the woman went to after leaving managed isolation.

There is high demand at community testing centres in Northland currently. It is important that anyone who went to a location of interest around the same time of the case, or may be showing symptoms, is prioritised to get a test.

Northland community testing is available now at: Mangawhai Domain, today until Wednesday; the Ngati Hine Health Trust in Kawakawa; the Turner Centre in KeriKeri today and tomorrow; the Visitor Centre at Ruakaka today and tomorrow until 4pm; and Winger Crescent in Kamo, Whangarei. Testing is also available at Daragaville, Rawene and Kaitaia Hospital

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