Much mystery still surrounds a Botany Covid-19 sub-cluster which was mentioned in a Ministry of Health (MoH) media briefing on Friday.
The Times has endeavoured to extract more information from the MoH about the sub-cluster of five – how it emerged, whether it is family involved and the current status of those involved.
A journalist at Friday’s Covid-19 update delivered by the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield asked if the Botany grouping, “with five cases and 42 identified contacts all of whom have been identified” was contained.
Bloomfield replied: “We’re hopeful it’s well contained. It’s just that it appeared quite late so several weeks after the first cases in this outbreak and so what we’re looking to do …there’s a genomic link to the overall outbreak but we wanted to go back and see, are there some missing links in the chain of transmission through to the start of that small sub-cluster.”
Bloomfield said the Public Health Unit is working very closely with the Botany sub-cluster to get further information “to try and fill in the missing bits of the puzzle as to how the first person in that small sub-cluster might have been affected”.
Bloomfield was also asked about the long tail of the Auckland cluster.
“We would expect because those are sub-clusters that have come later in the outbreak, we would expect those cases to be the cases that continue for the longest period,” he said.
“Because there is this opportunity now for cases and their families and whanau to go into a quarantine facility – that reduces the transmission within households which, again, we are still seeing as where most of that transmission happens.
“So I think that will help reduce the length of the tail here and that’s already applied to those sub-clusters that appeared early on and I think that the same will happen for these latter groupings, both the Mt Roskill Evangelical Church and the Botany one.
“The key thing is that the cases have been identified, close contacts are in isolation and being tested.”
Meanwhile the MoH today reported four new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand.
Two were imported cases detected in MIQ (managed isolation – quarantine) facilities. The first was a male child and the second is a woman in her 20s. Both arrived from India on August 23 and they are each a close contact of separate, previously reported confirmed cases.
There are two new cases in the community both linked to the Auckland August cluster.
The first is a close contact of an existing confirmed case that has been epidemiologically linked to the cluster. The second is a household contact of a confirmed case linked to the Mt Roskill Evangelical Church sub-cluster. Both were already in isolation.
Since August 11, the MoH’s contact tracing team has identified 3224 close contacts of cases, of which 3199 have been contacted and are self-isolating, and they are in the process of contacting the rest.
There are 70 people linked to the community cluster who remain in the Auckland quarantine facility, which includes 52 people who have tested positive for Covid-19 and their household contacts.