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1 new case of COVID-19

1 new case of COVID-19

Posted June 24, 2020

Media Release: Ministry of Health

There is one new case of COVID-19 to report in managed isolation in New Zealand today. The person who has tested positive is a woman in her 60s who arrived in New Zealand on June 18. She travelled back from India on a repatriation flight – the code used for all such Air India flights is AI1316.

The woman has been staying at the Pullman in Auckland, and tested positive yesterday as part of routine testing around day 3 of isolation. She was transferred to Jet Park, the quarantine facility, yesterday.

Yesterday laboratories completed 9,174 tests – that is the highest day of testing since it began.

The total number of tests completed to date is now 357,996.


New Zealand already has one of the strongest border quarantine systems in the world, with people coming home required to stay in managed facilities – in comparison to many countries that require self-isolation - for 14 days.

More than 20,000 people have been through the managed isolation facilities since that regime was implemented on April 9, with no evidence any of them has transmitted the virus to anyone in the community.

Additionally, people must now return a negative COVID-19 test before leaving isolation facilities and going into the community.

Since June 16, when the women who had returned from the UK were reported as positive cases, more than 45,000 tests for COVID-19 have been conducted - that is tests completed on that day and in days subsequently.

The only cases picked up since have been those 10 cases in managed isolation facilities at the border.

The cases of those two women – who were not tested before leaving isolation on a compassionate exemption – drew attention to a gap in the system between what the Ministry of Health expected was happening, and what was happening on the ground.

They moved quickly to remedy that, and ensure that those leaving managed isolation were tested before returning to the community.

The Ministry also began following up with three groups to ensure all bases were covered, as an extra precautionary approach.

Compassionate exemption group

The first group was those who had received an exemption to leave managed isolation on compassionate grounds. There were 55 people in that group from June 9 – 16. One of these people subsequently had their approval withdrawn and remained in managed isolation for the full 14 days.

So, 54 people left managed isolation on compassionate grounds, either to self-isolate in the community, or to make visits into the community.

· 34 people were granted an exemption to attend the funeral of a family member or grieve with family. These people either returned to the facility or self-isolated in an agreed location.

Note, during this time the guidance changed to allow people to leave managed isolation to go grieve in the family home from 9 June. Applications received prior to that date were for attendance at a funeral for a loved one.

· 16 applications were granted to self-isolate with a family member who was close to dying.

· 4 applications were granted for day visits to see a family member who was close to dying. These people return to managed isolation each day.

· 1 person was granted an exemption because of a terminal medical condition.

This group of people were granted exemption from managed isolation for exceptional circumstances. As part of leaving managed isolation all signed a health release that required them to follow a set of protocols depending on the category of exemption.

The protocols were dependent on the type of exemption and personalised to individual situations. This included:

· Undertaking a test for COVID 19 at a CBAC
· Traveling directly from the managed isolation facility to the agreed address without leaving the vehicle
· Wearing PPE, including gloves and PPE when spending time with the family member that is dying
· Complying with all Ministry of Health COVID-19 guidelines - staying two meters apart from people outside of their bubble, washing hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds or clean with sanitiser, coughing or sneezing into tissues or their elbow and washing their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or clean with hand sanitiser
· Not attending supermarkets, shops, petrol stations or other similar services during this time
· Accessing hospitals and GPs is allowed, providing those facilities were advised that they were in approved self-isolation

The Ministry has been in communication with all of these people since they left the facility. Of these people:

· 39 have returned negative tests for COVID-19. Two of these had a test prior to leaving managed isolation and another two were tested the same day as leaving, meaning 35 were tested after leaving managed isolation, with most tested while still in self-isolation.

· 11 will not be tested, either on the basis of health, because they are a child or they have left the country. This is an increase of four from yesterday due to a family being unable to be tested at this time.

· 3 are awaiting results

· 1 person who was understood to have had a test is now not returning contact and has been referred to enforcement.

UK cases

The next group was anyone who may have been in proximity to the two women who had returned from the UK – the Ministry again took a precautionary approach to this and followed up with a much wider group of people than they usually would for a confirmed case.

Of guests in the Novotel from June 6-13, there were six possible contacts outstanding yesterday. One has now been contacted and referred for a test, and five have been referred to enforcement services.

Of staff from the hotel, only one remains outstanding and the hotel is following up with this person.

2,159 group

The final group of people being followed up with is the 2,159 people who left managed isolation from June 9 – 16.

The 2,159 includes most of the 55 people granted compassionate exemptions.

Since 9 June, the Ministry rolled out testing in managed isolation facilities around day 3 and around day 12 of people’s stay – prior to that it was not a requirement.

The Ministry of Health is contacting the balance of this group of people to check on them as part of a very precautionary approach and to close the loop. In addition to checking on them, they are referring those who haven’t had a test for a test.

To date;

· 1010 people have been contacted and have tested negative for COVID-19; 800 of those were tested before leaving managed isolation and the remaining 210 were tested after departure from the facility.

· 239 people have been referred for a test which we do not yet have a result for.

· The Ministry of Health is still in the process of connecting with 791 people. They text firstly to let them know they will call, and then attempt to call four times. They are attempting a fifth call today and will also email those they are unable to make contact with. As needed they will refer people they do not make contact with to finding services.

· 119 people will not be tested because of reasons such as being a child, being part off repositioning crew, currently being overseas or they are refusing a test.

The Ministry of Health is doing everything it can to assure New Zealanders that these people do not pose a risk to their community – they have all been in isolation for 14 days, and consistent with international evidence, the risk they pose is very low.

But they are following up and referring them for testing as part of closing the loop on this group.

The Ministry has taken swift action to strengthen systems when it became clear there were gaps between expectations and implementation.

The Ministry will provide more updates on these numbers as this work progresses.