Ministry of Health Covid-19 update
October 19, 2020
There are no new cases of Covid-19 to report in New Zealand today – that’s zero at the border, and zero in the community.
This result is particularly pleasing as it includes the test results that we have back from three close contacts of the case we reported yesterday – that’s his one workplace contact and two of his household contacts.
We continue to investigate the source of this man’s infection – we believe the most likely source of the man’s infection is a ship he worked on in Auckland – the Sofrana Surville.
That ship had travelled from Papua New Guinea to Solomon Islands to Brisbane to Tauranga to Auckland, where eight crew joined it from the Philippines on October 13.
The case we reported yesterday carried out some work on the ship on October 13, wearing PPE while on board. Details of his activities on board the ship are under investigation.
The Sofrana Surville then travelled to Noumea, and it is now on its way to Brisbane. We are working with public health authorities overseas for follow up as appropriate under the countries’ protocols and procedures.
We plan to also test the New Zealand-based crew of another ship that the man worked on prior to this ship. We don’t believe this ship is the source of the infection, as it only operates in New Zealand waters with a New Zealand-based crew, but we want to ensure that all avenues of investigation are explored and eliminated.
The ship that the engineer subsequently worked on in New Plymouth, the Ken Rei, is currently anchored off Napier. We are treating all 21 crew members on board as close contacts of our case reported yesterday. Everyone involved in the process regarding that ship has been very helpful in ensuring there is no risk posed to community and we thank them for their cooperation while we work through our next steps. Crew members are receiving daily health checks.
Genome sequencing from this case has been completed and it fits with the scenario that this case is a “border incursion” case, rather than being a community case of unknown origin. Results from genome sequencing show that this strain of Covid-19 is not a type we have previously seen in New Zealand and it is not linked to any existing New Zealand cases. Particularly reassuring is that it is not linked to the recent Auckland outbreak or other recent cases.
Testing is taking place at the Port of Taranaki and at the Ports of Auckland this morning. We are also testing staff from the accommodation establishments the man checked in to in New Plymouth, although they are not considered close contacts. The test results we have received so far from contacts at the accommodation have come back negative.
Our total number of confirmed cases remains at 1530, which is the number we report to the World Health Organization.
Five previously reported cases are now considered to have recovered, bringing our total number of active cases to 37.
Yesterday our laboratories completed 1773 tests for Covid-19, bringing our total number of tests completed to date to 1,031,888.