Ministry of Health Covid-19 update
October 18, 2020
There is one new community case of Covid-19 to report in New Zealand today.
There are also two imported cases of Covid-19 to report today.
There is also one new historical case of Covid-19 to report in New Zealand today – this is the case first reported on Friday, and which is now officially included in our reporting. That person is also considered to have recovered from their infection.
One case from managed isolation reported yesterday is now under investigation to determine whether it is a historic case and therefore has been removed from our tally until this is resolved.
Our total number of confirmed cases is now 1530, which is the number we report to the World Health Organization.
Our total number of active cases is 42.
The first new imported case arrived on October 5 from England via Dubai and tested positive at routine testing around day 12 of their time in managed isolation.
The second new imported case arrived on October 13 from Dubai and tested positive at routine testing around day 3 of their time in managed isolation.
Both imported cases have been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.
Yesterday our laboratories completed 3390 tests for Covid-19 bringing our total number of tests completed to date to 1,030,115.
This case shows our systems to identify cases are working and we have a clear line of investigation as to the source of this person’s infection.
This case has also been caught early and the risk of onward transmission has been quickly contained.
This case is a man whose employment involves him working on ships at ports in New Zealand, including in the past two weeks the Ports of Auckland and the Port of Taranaki. We know the border is an area of risk for more cases of this virus to emerge, and that is why we have routine testing and other stringent measures in place.
This man has been diligent about getting his regular Covid-19 workplace tests and he has been tested regularly as part of routine border testing. Most recently he returned a negative test result from routine testing at the Ports of Auckland on October 2. On Friday October 16, the man left work after developing symptoms. He was tested for Covid-19 as soon as he became symptomatic and that test has returned a positive result.
We are using our rapid contact tracing and testing systems to ensure there are not more cases associated with this man. His close contacts have been asked to isolate or go into the quarantine facility. Because the man was tested so quickly after developing symptoms we were able to identify and isolate his contacts within the space of a few hours.
This is an important lesson for everyone – because the man was tested on the day that he developed symptoms, we have been able to quickly move to contain the spread of the virus. All New Zealanders should remain vigilant for any symptoms of Covid-19 and get a test as soon as you can if you become unwell. Testing quickly means we can reduce the risk of the virus spreading and that puts us in a good position to put a circle around any outbreak.
The man was potentially infectious on Wednesday October 14 and Thursday October 15. He has taken a number of precautions to limit his contacts with others due to the nature of his work and his actions have been very helpful in terms of limiting risk of further spread.
During the time he was potentially infectious, he was in New Plymouth for work, where he checked into a hotel and a motel. Our public health advice is for the rooms the man used to be deep cleaned. We do not believe there are any close contacts at these places, however, if staff are concerned they can be tested.
The man’s close contacts from his work in New Plymouth are being scoped. He wore PPE, including a mask and gloves while working on the vessel there. People from a vessel that the man worked on are being treated as close contacts and that ship is due to arrive in Napier this afternoon. We are working with authorities there and the crew on board that vessel will require a public health clearance before they can leave the vessel. We have made contact with the vessel and at this point no one on board has any symptoms.
The man travelled from New Plymouth back to Auckland on Wednesday night alone in a car. He did not work on Thursday and he has reported staying home except for a trip out to get food. We will prepare push notifications to go out via the NZ Covid Tracer app for potential exposure events. Again, this is why it is so important people are using the app to keep a record of where they have been.
The man went to his workplace on Friday before feeling unwell and we have identified one close contact from his work who is isolating and has been tested.
The man is now staying at the Auckland quarantine facility. His four household contacts are in isolation and have been tested.
The man was not at the Ports of Auckland during his infectious period.
In response to this case we will be scaling up some testing for Covid-19 to help ensure there are no undetected cases in our community. Testing stations will be available at Ports of Auckland and the Port of Taranaki from tomorrow and we will be encouraging all port workers to have another test for Covid-19. This will supplement our regular testing and may mean some individuals are tested earlier than their next scheduled test.
As always, we encourage anybody who has symptoms rings Healthline for advice on getting a test.
The emergence of a case of Covid-19 in our community may be unsettling for people – the best thing the public can do is remain vigilant. Monitor your health for any symptoms consistent with Covid-19 and if you have any concerns call Healthline or your health care provider for advice on getting a test.
The symptoms of Covid-19 are a new or worsening cough, sore throat, runny nose, loss of sense of smell or fever.
This case is another reminder Covid-19 is not going away any time soon and this is why we have a significant active response.
However effective our response might have been to date, the thing that matters is how good it is now and in future. We all need to keep playing our part to ensure that we eliminate community transmission of this virus each time we find it.
That means staying home if unwell and promptly seeking a test, continuing to use the NZ Covid Tracer App as part of our daily routines, excellent hand hygiene and cough and sneeze etiquette. The Ministry also continues to recommend using masks on public transport and flights.
Remember, Alert Level one is not Alert Level none.