36 cases of UK, South Africa variant strains detected in New Zealand managed isolation
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Posted January 21, 2021
Lately the Ministry of Health has changed the way they are providing information to New Zealand’s media. They are no longer providing daily updates and have changed the format for the releases they are sending out making it more difficult to provide the public with timely updates.
On Monday the Ministry of Health said genome sequencing results by ESR would be due yesterday and instead of sending the information out as a media statement as usual they would do a separate update on their website only.
They have now released the genome sequencing data on their website which confirms 36 cases of variant UK, South Africa strains have been detected in New Zealand. The information published is below.
Whole genome sequencing has identified 11 samples of B.1.1.7 (known as the UK variant) and 6 samples of B.22.214.171.124 (known as the South Africa variant) since 6 January, as well as a number of other previously identified strains.
The lineages are all consistent with overseas exposure.
This is a total of 29 samples of the UK variant and 7 of the SA variant. All of these were detected in managed isolation.
The Ministry of Health expects we will continue to see both the UK variant and South Africa variant in positive cases in managed isolation facilities here in New Zealand as these forms of the virus become increasingly common around the world.
All positive COVID-19 tests in New Zealand are sent to ESR to attempt whole genome sequencing as part of ongoing surveillance.
This surveillance allows health officials to identify and better understand these variants in order to inform and refine the overall elimination strategy, in particular optimising current stringent border processes including testing and regularly reviewing infection prevention procedures.
Further steps have been taken recently to strengthen border processes including adding an additional day 0/1 test and pre-departure testing for all passengers with the exception of those from Australia, Antarctica and most Pacific Islands.