5 new cases of COVID-19
21/12/2020 4:29:54 p.m.

21 December 2020



5 new cases of COVID-19



There are five new cases of COVID-19 to report in New Zealand since our last media statement on Sunday. There are no new cases in the community.

- One case arrived on 10 December from the United States. This person tested positive due to the onset of symptoms around day 9 and has been transferred to quarantine in a facility in Christchurch.
- One case arrived on 10 December from the United States. This person tested positive due to the onset of symptoms around day 9 and has been transferred to quarantine in a facility in Christchurch.
- One case arrived on 16 December from South Korea. This person tested positive at routine testing around day 3 and has been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.
- One case arrived on 16 December. The country of origin is not yet available. This person tested positive at routine testing around day 3 and has been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.
- One additional case arrived on 18 December from Russia via Singapore, and was tested on arrival. This result is regarded as indicating previous infection – referred to as an historical case. This person was tested on arrival before transiting to a fishing vessel in Lyttleton on the same day. The vessel left New Zealand shortly after the crew’s arrival and is now in international waters. It will not be returning to New Zealand for some months. The person had a previous infection, consistent with COVID-19, reported in Russia and their latest test result is interpreted as reflecting that previous infection. The person is not regarded as infectious. The Ministry is still determining whether this case should be reported against our country’s tally (as it has been today) or whether it should be reported as a case in Russia.

One previously reported case has now recovered. The total number of active cases in New Zealand is 59. Our total number of confirmed cases is 1,765. The total number of tests processed by laboratories to date is 1,374,050.
Note: A case we reported yesterday as having arrived from Australia is incorrect. This person arrived from the United Kingdom via the United Arab Emirates.

UK COVID-19 variant
Health authorities in the United Kingdom are in communication with other authorities around the world including New Zealand about the emergence of a new COVID-19 strain in the United Kingdom, known as the B.1.1.7 strain.
The specific strain identified in the United Kingdom has not been seen in New Zealand cases to date.
The Ministry of Health is confident New Zealand’s current use of PPE, testing strategy and 14-day managed isolation for all arrivals is appropriate. The Ministry continues to review these tools in light of any new and emerging evidence.
The Ministry of Health maintains that our most important protection at the border is the 14 days in isolation and/or quarantine, together with daily symptom checks and testing at day 3 and day 12 (with additional testing if symptomatic). We are also confident our current PCR testing would detect this and any new strains.

New South Wales
Ministry of Health officials continue to liaise with health officials in New South Wales following an increase in COVID-19 cases in the Australian state. The specific genome identified in New South Wales has not been seen in New Zealand cases to date.

Tightening of border requirements
A range of amendments to Border Orders come into effect from today to further strengthen and fine-tune New Zealand’s frontline defences against COVID-19.
Changes to the Air and Isolation & Quarantine Orders, via the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Air Border and Isolation and Quarantine) Amendment Order (No 2) 2020, include:
•an amendment to the definition of ‘aircrew’ to include aircrew who are not working, coming back from an overseas leg;
•exclusion from managed isolation for a small number of additional people, where the health risk is deemed very low;
•amendments to the restrictions for New Zealand-based aircrew operating international flights.
Changes to the Maritime Border Order, via the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Maritime Border) Amendment Order 2020, include:
•improved clarity on the requirements for foreign ships seeking exemption from the Order to enter New Zealand for the purposes of repair, refit or refurbishment;
•mandating personal protective equipment (PPE) be used in specific high-risk scenarios on ports and ships.

Some other minor changes and technical amendments are being made. Further details and links to the amendments are on the Ministry’s website.

The air and isolation & quarantine changes come into effect immediately.
https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-information-specific-audiences/covid-19-resources-border-sector/covid-19-aviation-sector
The maritime changes come into effect on Wednesday 23rd December.
https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-information-specific-audiences/covid-19-resources-border-sector/covid-19-maritime-sector

We are constantly adjusting our border settings to reflect new information, our knowledge of how the virus works and operational experience.

We need to balance maintaining health requirements with minimising economic impact and operational efficiency. We also need to be cognisant of the impact on workers and travellers.

NZ COVID Tracer and Bluetooth update
NZ COVID Tracer now has 2,414,100 registered users.
We can now also report that approximately 390,000 app users have turned on Bluetooth tracing.
The Ministry is pleased by this level of uptake and continues to encourage people to start using the Bluetooth function. As we prepare for the summer holiday break, the Ministry would like to remind all New Zealanders to keep each other safe and use the COVID Tracer app to scan QR codes and turn on Bluetooth functionality.
This will allow you to receive an alert if you have been near another app user who tests positive for COVID-19. Find out more here.

Ministry of Health updates over the holiday period
The Ministry will continue through the holiday period to provide updates about cases and actions taken in response.
The frequency of reporting continues to reflect the routine nature of the cases appearing at the border in recent returnees in managed isolation facilities.
Upcoming scheduled reporting dates will be: Wednesday 23 December; Sunday 27 December; Tuesday 29 December; Thursday 31 December; Sunday 3 January; Tuesday 5 January; Thursday 7 January and Sunday 10 January.
The Ministry's website will be updated with case numbers in line with these media updates.