Ministry of Health Covid-19 update
September 21, 2020
There are no new cases of Covid-19 to report in New Zealand today.
An update on the case we reported over the weekend – the man who is a recent returnee from India who completed his stay in managed isolation and has subsequently tested positive for Covid-19.
This case and his family members should be commended for the steps they have taken after the man became unwell following his departure from managed isolation.
After completing the 14 days in managed isolation, and returning two negative tests, this man remained alert to his health. He immediately self-isolated, sought advice and got a test and the whole family self-isolated when he became unwell. This is exactly the sort of vigilance that will help us keep ahead of this virus, and we thank this man and his family for their quick thinking that, all indications are, has prevented the virus from spreading further in this instance.
Everyone who has been through a managed isolation facility on their return to New Zealand should remain conscious of their health, as indeed should all New Zealanders. If you have any symptoms of Covid-19, seek advice from your GP or Healthline on getting a test.
Because of the quick action of this family, we have been able to rapidly identify, isolate, and test their close contacts. The two new cases announced yesterday were family members of the first case announced, and they had been in isolation since the first case developed symptoms.
Three neighbours who have been identified as close contacts have all returned negative tests and remain in self-isolation.
The passengers from the charter flight from Christchurch to Auckland are being contacted and assessed.
The people from the first nine rows who sat near the case have been asked to self-isolate and have been tested.
In terms of how the man became infected – that is still under investigation and we are keeping an open mind.
He could have been infected in India before departing and had a very long and unusual period of incubating the virus – that is rare but it can happen.
He could have been infected on the flight on the way over to New Zealand – there have been eight other cases confirmed from that flight. Genomic sequencing has already linked this case to two other cases from that flight. We are still waiting for genomic testing for two other cases and the other four cases have been effectively been ruled out as a possible source of his infection.
Other possible scenarios are that he could have been infected in the managed isolation facility in Christchurch, and a review of CCTV footage from the facility is already underway.
Or he could have been infected on the charter flight with the other people who had left MIQ and were returning to Auckland.
We aren’t ruling out any possibilities and are working to get to the bottom of this case.
We have had more than 50,000 people return safely to New Zealand since our managed isolation system began.
Modelling shows us that the scenario that presents the lowest risk of anyone getting through managed isolation and having an infection is a 14 day stay, plus testing at day 3 and day 12, along with very strong infection prevention and control procedures. That is the system we have.
There are 40 people isolating in the Auckland quarantine facility from the community, which includes 17 people who have tested positive for Covid-19 and their household contacts.
Three people are in hospital with Covid-19 – one each at Auckland City, Middlemore and North Shore hospitals. All three patients are in isolation on a general ward.
Since August 12, our contact tracing team has identified 3,989 close contacts of cases, of which 3,978 have been contacted and are self-isolating, and we are in the process of contacting the rest.
There are nine previously reported cases that are now considered to have recovered from Covid-19.
Our total number of active cases is 62 – of those, 29 are imported cases in MIQ facilities, and 33 are community cases.
Our total number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 remains at 1464, which is the number we report to the World Health Organization.
Yesterday our laboratories processed 3568, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 914,421.
Privacy Commissioner’s report
The Ministry welcomes the report of the Privacy Commissioner released today, which is consistent with the earlier report of Michael Heron QC.
By the time of the release of the earlier Heron report, the Ministry had reviewed its protocols and security around the sharing of data, and had ceased the routine sharing of patient information with emergency services.
Since then, the Ministry has worked with emergency services to establish clear protocols around the use of patient information should it be necessary to share data.
We have taken further steps to ensure any future sharing of patient data is treated with the utmost care and respect for the patient’s privacy, which is something we take very seriously.