Person who was recently released from managed isolation in Auckland travelled widely and visited over 30 locations in the southern part of Northland before testing positive

Person who was recently released from managed isolation in Auckland travelled widely and visited over 30 locations in the southern part of Northland before testing positive

A 56-year-old woman who recently did 14 days of managed isolation in Auckland's Pullman Hotel has tested positive for Covid about a week after release from isolation.

In the meantime she and her husband visited over 30 locations in the southern part of Northland. They were travelling around and having a holiday as they had not seen each other for four months. (Location list also at bottom of this article.)

The woman had twice tested negative for Covid prior to leaving isolation in Auckland.

The Ministry of Health is still gathering information on the case and will soon advise of the 30 locations, which included in the Mangawhai and Dargaville areas as well as Whangarei. The woman lives south of Whangarei and is currently in isolation, as is her husband, who has been tested. She had also had four close contacts during this period. These people were now isolating.

At a briefing in Wellington on Sunday Minister for Covid-19 Response Chris Hipkins and Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said the woman had been scrupulous about scanning with the app and so the Ministry was quickly able to start contacting the various places.

The woman had been in Spain and the Netherlands, before travelling from London, via Singapore and arriving in Auckland on December 30.

Hipkins said he didn't want to speculate at this stage about Alert levels.

"Until we've got a clear picture we just ask people to do what they have been doing all along," he said.

Bloomfield was asking anybody who had been to any of the locations the woman visited to isolate. And get a test if they felt unwell.

Bloomfield said the Ministry was making the assumption that this case may well be one of the new more easily transmissible 'variants' now spreading quickly globally. Genome testing is expected to be completed within 24 hours. Extra testing facilities are being set up in Northland.

Additionally, about 600 people who had been through the Pullman in the period from when the woman first arrived on December 30 were now being contacted. 

Bloomfield confirmed that there had been about 12-14 positive cases at the Pullman during that time and this had included cases of both the UK and South African variants.

The last reported cases of community transmission prior to this were in mid-November.

Ahead of the media briefing, ACT leader David Seymour said if the Covid case in Northland turns out to be community transmission "the Government’s overarching objective must be avoiding another lockdown".

“The best news would be that this is a false alarm, but if it’s not then a number of things have to happen very quickly to protect the community."

Seymour said  mass testing would need to be rolled out. 

“We know very few people in Northland have been getting tested, with Ministry of Health statistics show only 282 tests were carried out over the past week, down from 328 the week before.

“This will also be a huge test of whether tracking and tracing has improved since the system was last tested in August.

“We hope the Government succeeds in containing any cases as soon as possible.”

Earlier on Sunday the Ministry of Health had reported eight new cases of COVID-19 in managed isolation since the last update had been provided on Friday. Among these cases, two people had come from each of the US and South Africa, with one case coming from each of the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia and India.

One previously reported case had now recovered, leaving the total number of active cases in New Zealand at 79. The total number of confirmed cases is 1,927.

The total number of tests processed by laboratories to date is 1,487,234 and the seven-day rolling average up to Saturday is 3,335 tests processed.

The Ministry says the NZ Covid Tracer now has 2,459,398 registered users.

Poster scans have reached 158,388,381 and users have created 6,393,135 manual diary entries.

This is the release the Ministry issued on Sunday evening:

Probable case of COVID-19 in a returnee

24 January 2021

The Ministry of Health is investigating a positive test result in a person who recently travelled from overseas and completed their stay in managed isolation in a facility in Auckland.

In the case we are investigating and reporting today, the person had travelled in Spain and the Netherlands late last year for work.

While in the Netherlands she was in contact with family members, who subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.

The person left the United Kingdom en route to New Zealand, travelling via Singapore, arriving in Auckland on 30 December.

She carried out the required 14 days in managed isolation at the Pullman in Auckland and returned two negative tests as part of routine testing – one on 2 January and one on 10 January.

After meeting the final health assessment for release, she left managed isolation on 13 January and travelled home to the Northland region. She lives with one other person who has not been symptomatic, who has been tested and is also isolating while awaiting results.

The person started developing mild symptoms on 15 January and these progressively got worse. The person had a test taken on Friday 22 January and self-isolated at home.

Late last night the result was returned as positive for COVID-19. Further testing is needed, including a serology blood test, to confirm whether the case is new or historical. However, the CT value from the initial test suggests that it is new and we are treating it as such.

We are undertaking rapid genome sequencing to see if there’s a match to other cases in the managed isolation facility as well as to whether the person has one of the more transmissible variants we’ve seen reported recently.

Importantly, we are working on the assumption any case might be a more transmissible variant and are taking appropriate precautions.  

It is too early to say where this infection has occurred — we hope further testing and investigation will help to confirm this.  

This is a reminder to us all of how COVID-19 is an extremely difficult virus to manage, as we’ve seen overseas and here in New Zealand.

Movements in the community

As part of the investigative process carried out by the public health unit, the person was able to provide thorough details on where they had been since departing managed isolation. Four close contacts are being tested and are required to isolate for a full 14 days since their last exposure.

The person visited a number of places in the Northland region on departing managed isolation and went to around 30 locations. Importantly the person has been vigilant in using the COVID TRACER app since leaving MIF and we have been able to rapidly identify these locations and are in the process of notifying them.

The names and relevant dates and times will be publicised and COVID Tracer app notifications issued.

The alert will advise users that they may have been in contact with someone with COVID-19. The 30 locations will be listed on the Ministry’s website as soon as the businesses are informed.https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/covid-19-novel-coronavirus/covid-19-health-advice-public/contact-tracing-covid-19/covid-19-contact-tracing-locations-interest

For contact tracing purposes, anyone who attended one of the locations listed during the relevant timeframes is considered has a low risk of exposure however we are asking all those people to isolate and call Healthline about when and where to get a test. If you have any symptoms, get a test promptly.

Close contacts have been contacted directly.

This is a clear reminder of how important it is to use the COVID Tracer app to scan QR codes and turn on Bluetooth functionality. Turning on Bluetooth functionality will allow you to receive an alert if you have been near another app user who tests positive for COVID-19.

Community testing stations

Northland and Auckland health officials are working to provide additional testing in the area,

Community testing is available from 4-8pm today in Whangarei - CBAC, 20 Winger Crescent, Kamo, Whangarei. For further information about other community testing sites in the area please go to

https://www.northlanddhb.org.nz/

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service has a full list of after hours/weekend testing and community testing centres throughout the region here https://www.arphs.health.nz/public-health-topics/covid-19/where-to-get-tested/

Also remember to stay home if you are unwell, maintain stringent hygiene practices, including washing and drying your hands and cough or sneeze into your elbow. Contact Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or call your GP to see if you need to have a test.

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.

73 Comments

She had Bluetooth on so it will all be fine

Only if everybody else did.

How many? in NZ received govt subsidies to get one of those blue tooth capable QR scan mobile devices. Some old devices still works for texting, call in/out but just don't have suffice/latest blue tooth & QR scan ability at all - just smirked unease about it, then pretend to scan in order to get into building, get service etc. - Nek Minit? govt mobile devices roll out subsidy plan.

Unless they ramp up their protocols we will see more of this and almost certainly lockdowns.

Agreed fritz, when everyone is happily mingling in MIQ, from new arrivals, those about to exit, and healthcare staff it's actually a wonder it hasn't happened earlier - oh wait.. it did in CC

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Don't worry, Jacinda will front the press conferences soon and the team of 5 million will be fine. Just don't ask her about anything other than Covid.

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Nice distraction from the housing debacle

How many houses could we build with what another lock down will cost?

Hipkins is the only one fronting. Jacinda is still on holiday. Obviously not important enough for her to be back from the Coromandel yet.

Are you sure that is right? Haven't they had a conference and other activities?

No she's been back for a week or so now. Still not a bad break if you can get it.

More can be done for sure, once more QE/FLP, bond issuance to govt for company profit/wage subsidies continue into permanent fix - IF cost can continuously being pumped into housing inflation cost, whilst it's not being reported into CPI, then that will be the key. But govt must remove the DTI & LVR ideas and quickly remove the bright line test.

Given the assumption is that it is the more transmissible variant, I wonder if they'll be contacting any of the businesses etc that the close contacts have visited on top of the 30 the woman visited, to try and get in front of any potential spread, or is that usual protocol?

You'ld have to assume that was SOP, but a big exercise. If it's the UK or SA variant then I think MoH and the Govt will be very very worried. One thing puzzles me - if she left MIQ after 14 days how come we only hear about it now?? (25 days after her arrival in the country on the 30th) Did she catch it in MIQ towards the end of her stay and after the 12day test? Seems plausible to me

That 14days, is cool eh? - catches at the border, isolate for 14days, multiple tested negative.. then free to roam around. NZ cool science knowledge an assuring implementation.
We really hopes, that NZ avoid showing the world as leader... for arm bands compulsory wear, with C19 signage, and barcoded data of recent/last test result. Tick.. tick.. tick.. tick..

I'm assuming you are scrupulously scanning and bluetoothing and recording everywhere you go

This will be interesting. A test result mix up?

Nope, the test done in 24/7 regular & continuously by some sort of mechanised means, .. unsure could be robotic lab process and drone monitoring?

Maybe time to roll out the use of the Bluetooth card and make the wearing of it a priority? Not everyone has a smartphone nor the inclination to scan QR codes

My wife helps out a charity shop. They sell cloth masks. Over the past week or so there has been a big increase in mask sales and comments were that people have been expecting a breach like this. The frustrating and pathetic thing is however that hardly any scan the QR code or sign the register; even if prompted. If the government were doing it's job properly it would have had a huge advertising and public education push. Too smug and self satisfied with our achievements to date. We the public need to take things a lot more seriously and are equally sloppy.

It's fine because everyone in nz is an office based worker on a six figure salary who can work from home.

Just emphasises that until the population is vaccinated we're playing a risky game.

Edit to add: How are vaccination preparations going? I've heard nothing much about the program (e.g. how long it will take to vaccinate to that 70% level, where centres will be located, how they will be staffed, if vaccinations will be done in tranches etc.)

A plan! Now there's a novel idea

There's still the issue of transmissibility, the vaccine stops you getting it (supposedly with the new variants) but doesn't stop you infecting others who aren't vaccinated if you're already carrying it and are asymptomatic. The reason you haven't heard anything about the vaccination plan is because there isn't a plan. A guess or an aspiration maybe, but no fixed plan. Remember the hoohaa with this winters flu vaccines? Surpluses in some areas, deficits in others

Now, that's a thought.. largest trading partner is China, why not using their vaccine? after all NZ too small to produce for one, instead.. begging from the countries that themselves struggling to cope. Most of front line health/essential workers are not valued at all in NZ, so why stay there? NZ ever increasing 'wealth creation' surely the guarantee point to quickly afford their 'healthcare needs'. Kiwis clapping for our good A/cup sailors, but the real good sailors are in UK & US healthcare systems that currently being tested by rough seas. Every islands nations lucky counts now, just simply related to border closure. It's not Not quite a strong health response in essence.

Told ya so Mark Hubbard. Even in well managed MIQ, this was always going to happen.

Bloomfield should publish the locations the person has been to immediately. Holding them back is utterly stupid.

Places published now. But not times. Equally stupid. (update: times now released. Apologies for the wisecrack)

See the full list now, clearly someone got told to pull finger and stop milking media time.

But... all that travel and no fuel?

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Any critism of the Govt should be illegal. The only place where news is allowed should be newshub and tvnz. Everyone else should be shut down I think.

Any criticism of the govt is a waste of time anyway.
They act on it 6 months late, when their supporters have had time to forget it was someone else's idea.

You can criticise all you like (really it's tantamount to barking at the moon) but voters have a 3 yearly chance to judge... unfortunately voters in this country seem to go with the latest soundbite/issue rather than looking at previous performance as a guide to future performance.

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There were hardly compelling choices in the last election

Haha.. probably the most profound statement you've made Fritz.. I totally agree

Yep me too

At least labuor are governing alone and can't blame a coalition partner for their tenure. A small silver lining.

Any criticism of the Govt should be illegal. Typical sentiment from a modern "liberal" leftist

Looks like the boomer doomer is back. I can hear Orr firing up the printing press already.

I imagine the tinnies are flying off the shelves in Northland right now, gotta stock up on the essentials.

Uh oh, better slash those interest rates again and keep house prices rising as quickly as possible to make sure there is a strong placebo affect that our economy is doing well even with the upcoming lockdown.

And further delay the stats release...
Covid - the grift that keeps on grifting

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8pm - till no release of locations onto website -- they have had this information for hours now -- and we are still waiting -- i have healthcare staff over that area -- and desperately need to be cross checking -- but we cant get that info -- staff starting work at 7.00am -- and as some fo the services are 24/7 not ;ike you can simply delay or work from home caring for people Really not good enough -- Information is key and its being drip fed to us instead of simply released - thats the whole bloody point of the APP

Hold your horses, check out tomorrow working day at 1pm - now get some rest, the more kiwis take a rest at home? the less transmission will be - but do let govt know your bank account for any kind of subsidies.

Wonder what the cycle threshold was set at on the PCR test? Hope it's not a false positive

most people won't even know what you're on about, and yet what you've described is fundamental to the outcome of this virus story thing.

I was thinking about the Kiwi girl who went to Japan, tested positive and then the story just kinda died.

While we're engaging in mass hysteria equivalent to a modern Salem witch trial, back in planet reality this is what's going on... https://www.euromomo.eu/graphs-and-maps

Yes even the WHO itself is warning against false positive testing as the PCR test results can be manipulated. It's on their website. The guy who invented the PCR tests is on record saying it should not be used for this purpose. Time for some real investigative journalists to step up me thinks...

Closing the borders should mean exactly that.

Don’t tell me they are citizens or PR’s many of them are partners or family that are allowed in if accompanied.

Why are we putting everyone at risk of a lockdown for a small minority who have had almost a year to come back or in this woman’s case went for a holiday to Europe. Just astonishing.

Nobody back unless a citizen/PR and for compassionate or emergency reasons.

Agree.

Close relative support three of them, that going out then in again after lockdown lifted - two already out in the community, one just starting the 14 days MIQ now.. magical number that fourteen.

sounds like this person only went abraod 4 months ago -- whihc makes things even worse

Some of us work overseas, and bring large amounts of tax back into the country to pay for the bailouts. That means leaving NZ multiple times a year, and going through MIQ each time. Borders need to stay open, however strictly enforced. No more BS blue surgical masks for border staff.....

I agree. Kiwis have now had a heck of a long time to come home, however, it has been pointed out to me that we HAVE to take them. If this is the case ONLY Kiwis should be able to return. This would be relatively easy to manage as it would mean adjusting the MIQ booking site so that the system only recognized Kiwi passport numbers.

They should have introduced pre-flight tests months ago like other countries when quick cheap tests became available, as continuously suggested by most leading epidemiologists. We are virtually virus free with far more to loose that any other country. When the new strain emerged, they should have also closed the border to the USA, UK, India and South Africa about a month ago. Again other countries with a lot less to loose have. Whats wrong with our government. Too little, too late. Too smug with what the country achieved to date, just riding for a fall. Well here it is.

Wow, 30 supermarkets in 7-8 days.

Edit - the NZ Herald article is very unclear, it says nearly 30 supermarkets but then provides a 'full list' of locations with only 4-5 supermarkets...

https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/coronavirus-covid-19-locations-of-interest...

If we go into a level 4 lockdown for a month will Adrian Orr cut the OCR a full percentage point thus giving a boost to the economy?

Yes, he will and have to - so steadfast for the March negative OCR, all recent drum beat by most bank economist, tagging along about inflation, business confidence, trade activities post lockdown were all design to discourage RBNZ, peer pressure.. but the truth is, that neg. OCR is too twilight zone for them, but those drum rolls could face abrupt end at any moment.

It is more than likely that she has contracted the highly infectious variant because it got past our isolation measures that have been moderately effective to date. Certainly it would be only sensible to treat the situation thus. If it is, we may well only have one chance of stamping it out. Accordingly the government should throw everything it can at the problem. I.e.
Immediate level 4 for Northland for at least 2 weeks provided not further infections are discovered there.
Immediate 2 weeks home isolation for all other people at risk who were in the same MIQ facility.

The government should snap out of its smug, sloppy, slow and reactive mode of management. It needs a dam good boot up the backside. We will only get one chance, if any at this.

How dare you critisise the govt...

Don't worry too much, soon Kiwis will receive a 'compulsory vaccines' which most likely will be for life time efficacy, then border will have to open to allow foreign exploits as previously.
As it is very critical for the NZ economic well being, as we speak. NZ also monitoring the UK govt temporary ban to Qatar flight, which probe the case suspect of passenger falsifying C19 test paper (seen it on Aljazeera news)

I have been reading an article from the UK indicating that there is uncertainty as to whether the vaccines work on some on the new variants.

Time to follow Israel's lead (we are already way behind them with zero vaccinations)
Immediate border closure
Hold for minimum two months, until vaccine rollout underway
Then only allow confirmed negative testers to board a flight
Then vaccinate all arrivals as they step off the plane and isolate them anyway for 14 days.

RCD.. as NZ is a country that is grappling with inequality, Israel is the last country we should be following. Should we also be banning certain races from driving on some of our public roads and from holding positions of high public service, distributing the vaccine (partly) based on ethnicity and imprisoning children for years (without trial) who are accused of throwing stones?

Oh, to be an armchair expert - then I could pontificate on the interest.co.nz forums...

Very good oldbloke, just got your first “smartphone” have you...

So you think the government is doing everything 100% right?

"We have always been at war with Northland"

One corespondent to morning report came up with a good suggestion. Basically all the people who arrive on a particular day are quarantined in the same facility and only people who arrive on that day are housed in that facility. There are 32 facilities so a days worth can be spread over 2. That leaves a float of 6 (3 days worth) which allows for deep cleaning and preparation for the next lot. Pretty simple I would have thought.
I note that they are now saliva testing border staff every day (cheap and quick). Why not daily tests for the people in MIQ facilities? That would greatly reduce the risk of cross infection during isolation. Really you do have to wonder at the intelligence of the people managing this.

That makes waaay too much sense.

Bloomfield confirmed that there had been about 12-14 positive cases at the Pullman during that time and this had included cases of both the UK and South African variants.

Were those cases moved to the Jetpark enhanced MIQ facililty after testing positive? Or did they remain at the Pullman?

Where is the Northland case being isolated?

Copied and pasted from a signal message from my GF "Our intern had Covid over Christmas. She sits in the room right next to mine. We wiped down the door handles and her telephone and that was about it."

See nobody gives a s^*t about COVID overseas. Have you all lost your minds?