6 new cases of COVID-19
20/08/2020 7:56:01 a.m.

Wednesday 19 August 2020

6 new cases of COVID-19

There are six new cases of COVID-19 to report in New Zealand today.

One case is an imported case – a woman in her 50s who arrived in New Zealand from Qatar via Sydney on August 14. She has been in managed isolation at the Sudima Hotel in Rotorua.

The other five cases are in the community and they have all been linked to the recent outbreak.

These six new confirmed cases bring our total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 to 1,299, which is the number we report to the World Health Organization.

There are 125 people from the community who have been moved into the Auckland quarantine facility, which includes 61 people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and their household contacts.

There are five people receiving hospital-level care for COVID-19, one in Auckland City and four in Middlemore.

A note on this, people who have COVID-19 and are in hospital are isolated and carefully managed separately from other patients. The public can be confident that our DHBs are managing this effectively, as they did in the first outbreak of COVID-19 in New Zealand. We have heard reports of people who are reluctant to get an ambulance or go to hospital – hospitals continue to be safe places to receive medical care, and people should feel confident going to hospital to receive treatment.

Yesterday our laboratories processed 23,038 tests for COVID-19.  That brings the total number of tests completed to date to 639,415.

On testing, people should only get tested if they are symptomatic, connected to a case or are concerned that they may have come into contact with a case. This will help with our lab capacity right now.

Close and casual contacts
Since August 11, we have identified 1983 close contacts of people who have tested positive for COVID-19. We have traced 1,861 of those people and they are self-isolating, and we are in the process of contacting the rest.
We are hearing reports of some confusion among people calling Healthline as to what different groups of people need to do, so we are providing clarification on that:

Close contacts:
Close contacts are people who have had quite close exposure to a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 during the case’s infectious period – for example, living in the same household or being within 2 metres of a case for 15 minutes or more. They are likely to be at a higher risk of being infected through that exposure. We are asking people who have been identified as a close contact to get a test and stay in self-isolation for 14 days to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Casual contacts:
Casual contacts are people whose exposure to a case was shorter or further away and they don’t meet the criteria for a close contact. They are likely to be at lower risk of being infected following exposure. We are asking people identified as a casual contact to monitor their health for 14 days after exposure and seek advice from their GP or Healthline if they become unwell or develop any symptoms of COVID-19.

More information on this can be found at: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-health-advice-general-public/contact-tracing-covid-19  

All Aucklanders:
Auckland is in Alert Level 3, so everyone within the Auckland city boundary is being asked to stay home unless they are an essential worker, or unless they are travelling for an essential purpose, like getting groceries or medication, or accessing medical treatment. Everyone in Auckland, and indeed all of New Zealand, should closely monitor their health – if you develop symptoms of COVID-19 please seek advice from Healthline or your GP about getting a test – this will help us stamp out any cases in our community quickly.

Genomic testing
Genomic sequencing continues fill in more pieces of our puzzle about the route of transmission for the Managed Isolation facility maintenance worker at the Rydges Hotel.

Yesterday we reported that partial genome sequencing results indicated no link to our existing community cluster.

The full genome sequencing and matching has now been completed. It found the genome type called clabe B1 is one commonly seen in the US.

There have been four positive cases in New Zealand with the virus with this genomic sequence, but the full sequencing now confirms the closest match is with the July 31 returnee from the US.

Investigations on how the worker at the Rydges became infected continues.

Serology testing
On a related note there has been some discussion about whether serology testing – a blood test confirming the presence of antibodies to the virus - would be useful in this and other scenarios.

Serology tests are an important part of our suite of investigation tools and we are looking at how we can use these in the most systematic, efficient and effective manner.

Serology testing of these contacts may provide another piece in the puzzle but will only tell us someone has been exposed to the virus, not which strain.

We have already used these tests to find out more information about this cluster, particularly in households to see if anyone else has had the virus.

Yesterday we mentioned Pak n Save Glen Innes in Auckland as a site which had been visited by a shopper who is a confirmed case of COVID-19.

The investigation continued yesterday and further scoping revealed this person had in fact visited the supermarket once while infectious - on the 12th of August.

We apologise to Pak n Save Glen Innes and Foodstuffs if that caused any issues.  As we indicated yesterday this person was considered a low risk and employees and other shoppers are also considered to be at low risk. 

The total number of New Zealanders who have now registered to use NZ COVID Tracer is 1,556,138 – and more than 908,000 of those have been in the last eight days. 106,464 businesses have now got their QR codes across a total of 266,137 unique locations.

We have had some feedback that some QR codes are displayed in places that are not easily accessible for people with disabilities. A request for businesses to please check they have at least one QR code in an easy-to-reach location with the top of the poster approximately 130cm from the ground. Ideally, this should be the poster at the entrance to your premises. Remember you can print more than one copy of your QR code.

For any app users experiencing issues – there is an app support team you can contact on 0800 800 606 or help@covidtracer.min.health.nz.