Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Covid 19 coronavirus: Two new cases in community in Auckland

Two more Covid-19 cases have been detected in the community in Auckland and health officials last night urged people who visited eight places of interest to isolate and get a test.

Two people who completed their managed isolation at Auckland’s Pullman Hotel at the same time as the positive Northland community case were confirmed last night as having been infected.

They left MIQ on January 15 and the Ministry of Health has released a list of locations of interest they visited on the North Shore, including supermarkets, restaurants and service stations.

“While we still can’t categorically rule these out as historical infections, test results so far indicate the two people may have contracted Covid-19 towards the end of their stay in managed isolation, after returning two negative tests each during their stay,” said director general of health Ashley Bloomfield.

The list of locations of interest covers a period from January 17, two days after the cases completed quarantine, to January 26.

Bloomfield asked anyone who has visited the below locations during the time period, or was in Auckland with symptoms, to isolate and call Healthline to arrange a test and remain isolated until they receive their result.

The full list is:

• BBQ King Albany -Jan 17, 11am-2pm
• Pak n Save Silverdale – Jan 17, 2pm-2.30pm
• BBQ King Albany – Jan 17, 5pm-9pm
• Pak n Save Silverdale – Jan 18, midday-12.30pm
• BBQ King – Albany Jan 18, 12.30pm-3pm
• Caltex Ōrewa – Jan 18, 1pm-1.30pm
• BBQ King Albany – Jan 18, 5pm-9pm
• Hickeys Pharmacy Ōrewa – Jan 23, 12.30pm-1.30pm
• Farmers Albany-Jan 24, midday-1pm
• Tai Ping Supermarket Albany – Jan 24, midday-1pm
• New World Ōrewa – Jan 25, 1pm-2pm
• Tai Ping Supermarket Northcote – Jan 26, 12.30pm-1pm

Genome sequencing results expected today, and serology results expected tomorrow, would help establish a clearer picture.

Mayor Phil Goff urged Aucklanders to continue scanning with the NZ Covid Tracer app and practise good hand hygiene.

“I understand that this is unsettling and not how any of us wanted to start 2021,” Goff said last night.

“Aucklanders, out of anyone in the country, know how to beat this virus — we have done it multiple times and we are going to do it again.”

The Northland community case, a 56-year-old woman who is now recovered, tested positive on Saturday after her two-week stay in managed isolation at the Pullman Hotel.

All 353 guests who stayed at the same hotel were ordered to isolate at home and get tested.

The Auckland pair’s test results are different to two other positive results which Bloomfield said were later found to be historic and a false positive.

And nearly 100 people — almost a third of the 353 identified Pullman guests — were yet to be spoken to by contact tracers to ensure they get a test.

Of those who have been contacted, 14 reported having symptoms but 13 returned negative tests.

As well, 327 people have been identified as being at one of the 31 locations the Northland woman visited before testing positive — 127 had negative test results.

More than 17,000 tests have been processed since news of the community case broke on Sunday.

“There are encouraging signs in Northland so far but, a reminder, the situation is evolving and we’re not breathing out just yet,” said Bloomfield.

But he warned previous experience indicated there might likely be more positive results because the test is sensitive and can pick up fragments of the virus.

It was still a mystery yesterday as to how the woman caught the virus after having a negative test on day 12 of her stay. New Zealanders can also expect to see the public campaign about Covid vaccinations kick off in the next few weeks.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the Medsafe approval process all four vaccine variants would go through was an important part of the effort to assure Kiwis they were safe.

The first batch of the Pfizer vaccine is expected to arrive in New Zealand next week.

Ministry of Health surveys indicate 70 per cent of the population would get the vaccination, 20 per cent were hesitant and needed more trusted information while about 10 per cent will refuse to get it. At least 70 per cent of the public need to get the jab in order for there to be sufficient coverage to reach herd immunity but the Government is “aspiring” to vaccinate about 90 per cent.

Frontline border workers and their close contacts will be vaccinated first with the vaccination campaign reaching the general population by the middle of the year.

Hipkins said it would then take six months for it to be rolled out to everyone who wants it, calling it “a numbers game” because vaccinating every single person of the “team of five million” would require 10 million doses. If there could be 50,000 vaccinations done per day, it would take 200 days to do every single person twice.

Hipkins said they were aspiring to have the vaccination programme completed by the end of the year — if it’s started in June — but it would depend on other elements like shipments and Medsafe approvals for all four variants.

“There’s still a lot of what-ifs in that equation.”

It’s likely there will be vaccination sites similar to the pop-up Covid testing centres.

Hipkins said New Zealand was still at the “front of the queue” of countries without health emergencies to receive doses from the four suppliers it has agreements with. But countries with widespread community transmission were being prioritised.

“It’s very difficult on humanitarian grounds to argue against that.”

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