Thursday, 25 February, 2021

Five new cases of COVID in managed isolation

Auckland New Zealand Papatoetoe High School in Auckland closes after student tested positive for COVID-19
Gustavo Carr | 15 February, 2021, 06:55

New Zealand - which had gone more than two months without infection before the January case - is to start inoculating its 5 million people against the new coronavirus on February 20, after receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine earlier than anticipated.

New Zealand on Sunday reported three new locally acquired COVID-19 cases, the country's first since late January, when a returned traveller tested positive after leaving quarantine. By closing its global borders early the island nation virtually eradicated the virus in the early stage of the pandemic.

"They are new and active infections", Health Minister Chris Hipkins said.

However, Australia's expert medical panel decided late on Sunday night to change the system.

Ardern has been widely praised for her management of the pandemic, with New Zealand recording just 25 deaths and less than 2,000 cases in a population of five million.

"Equally, we're reaching out to our overseas counterparts that do sequence passengers who disembark and go into isolation at other destinations, so for instance in Australia to see if we can find a match there", she explained.

'We're in a position at the moment where we haven't quite identified whether or not the household cases that we picked up, whether or not there are any beyond that.

The new community cases make just four in the last three months - with the lockdown the first in New Zealand in six months.

The New Zealand government imposed a lockdown for three days in the country's largest city Auckland from midnight Sunday after the discovery of coronavirus infections in a family.

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"There are a number of gaps in our knowledge around these cases", Hipkins said.

The good news comes after it was revealed a mother, father and daughter who tested positive to the virus were infected with the United Kingdom variant of the virus.

The school is undergoing deep cleaning and will be closed on Monday and Tuesday as a precaution, with a testing facility to be set up on the campus.

Victoria's COVID-19 testing boss Jeroen Weimar said the Holiday Inn worker, her partner and housemate as well as the three-year-old child and woman in her 50s were among 38 people who attended the event.

Manukau ward councillor Alf Filipaina has urged members of the community to come forward for testing.

New Zealand has won worldwide praise for its tackling of the coronavirus pandemic, with the island country going months without community transmission.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said the woman was not expected to have been infectious when she was last at work, on February 5.

"We are anticipating high demand at our COVID-19 testing sites and delays are possible, so our request is to please be patient".