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Ministry of Health has now identified three new cases; 31 people at Kmart Botany are close contacts

Ministry of Health has now identified three new cases; 31 people at Kmart Botany are close contacts

The Ministry of Health confirms three new community cases in South Auckland - one of whom works at Kmart in Botany and has been at work.

Some 31 staff of the shop are now considered close contacts.

The three new cases are siblings.

Earlier on Tuesday the Ministry announced one new case - another student at Papatoetoe High School. And now two siblings of this case have also tested positive.

After the Papatoetoe High school student had tested positive the Ministry said all 1500 students plus teachers are going to be required to get another test.

The school has been asked to close again until further notice as a precaution.

This was the second media release issued by the Health Ministry on Tuesday

The Ministry of Health was this afternoon notified that two siblings of today’s positive case from Papatoetoe High School have also tested positive for COVID-19.

The siblings are a teenager and an infant. The parents and a third older sibling have returned negative tests. The family has been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.

Today’s initial case, a Papatoetoe High School student known as Case I, has not been at school. They are a casual plus contact of the initial case at Papatoetoe High School and had been advised to self-isolate and get tested.

The teenage sibling, known as Case J, recently finished school and has been working at Kmart Botany. Case J was at work on Friday 19 February and Saturday 20 February between 4pm and 10pm. Kmart Botany is regarded as a location of interest.

Therefore anyone who was at Kmart Botany, 500 Ti Rakau Drive, Botany Downs, at these times is considered a casual plus contact. If you are a casual plus contact, you are advised to immediately isolate at home and call Healthline on 0800 358 5453 for advice on isolation timeframes and testing requirements.

Thirty-one staff at Kmart have already been identified as close contacts and are isolating and being provided with public health advice.

Other locations of interest for the three cases are continuing to be investigated and will be notified when available.

The infant, known as Case K, does not have childcare outside the home.

A testing centre was set up at the school early afternoon and 672 tests were done today. Testing will be available again at the school tomorrow. The school community has been requested to return to complete testing if they did not receive it today.

The Ministry is advising everyone in a Papatoetoe High School household must stay away from work or any other school, educational facility or community setting (e.g. the supermarket or any other place outside the home). The school remains closed and no students or staff will be able to return until advised by a Medical Officer of Health.

At this point, household members who are not students or staff do not need to be retested, unless they have symptoms or are asked to do so.

We will be providing updates on contact tracing tomorrow. Whole genome sequencing of Case I will be available tomorrow.

Earlier in the day Minister of Covid-19 Response Chris Hipkins and Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield provided an update after the initial new positive test.

The student who tested positive was regarded only as a 'casual-plus' contact of the original cases at the school.

Bloomfield said she had not been at school when it re-opened on Monday, having been closed last week. He later said when directly asked that the student had not been at school because she was feeling symptomatic. She had not been tested previously.

She lives in a family bubble of six and has a sibling that also goes to Papatoetoe High School.

Genome sequencing testing was under way, though Bloomfield said there was "nothing to suggest this was a new strain".

This was the first media release issued by the Health Ministry on Tuesday:

This morning we were notified of a new positive case in the community. This case is a student at Papatoetoe High School.

The student has not been at school. They are a casual plus contact of the initial case at the High School and had been advised to self-isolate and get tested.

Papatoetoe High was closed last week (15-19 February). Today we asked the school to reclose until further notice as a precaution and asked every student and staff member to be retested. We would like to thank the school and the wider community for their ongoing cooperation. Testing has been set up at the school from this afternoon.

Anyone from the wider school community who needs to be tested today should do so at one of the community testing centres rather than at the school.

Public health staff are interviewing the student and their family and locations of interest which are identified will be made public.

This student lives in a household bubble of six, with a sibling who also attends Papatoetoe High but has also not been at school. Other family members have been tested.

Auckland February cases contact tracing update

Contact tracing has identified a total of 126 close contacts associated with the positive cases which have previously been reported. Of the remainder, 123 of the close contacts have returned a negative test result. We are awaiting test results for two people - both of whom are from the medical clinic and relate to Case C, which is considered a low risk exposure event.

Outstanding results from casual plus contacts at the school are being actively followed up. Anyone who returned to school this week needed to have returned a negative test.

Source investigation

All scenarios for possible infection sources of the Auckland February cases continue to be thoroughly investigated.  The Auckland Airport precinct where Case B works remains the most likely source of the outbreak, but further testing has not identified any potential transmission routes.

The Four Points by Sheraton managed isolation facility in Auckland continues to be investigated. This is where there is a possible genomic similarity between a previous positive case (now recovered) and the current community cases - though we note it is not a direct match.

There were 265 returnees at the facility in late December. Thirty-six of these are based overseas.  At this stage just 7 out of 229 based in New Zealand have not yet been contactable. We will continue to follow up with these people.

It is important to note that health officials consider this an unlikely source of the infection at this stage but are pursuing it as part of actively chasing down every line of enquiry.  

New border case details

There are five new cases of Covid-19 in managed isolation.

Arrival date From Via Positive test day/reason Managed isolation/quarantine location
18 February Germany Qatar Day 3 / routine Auckland
21 February India United Arab Emirates Day 0 / routine Auckland
21 February Pakistan United Arab Emirates Day 0 / routine Auckland
21 February Egypt United Arab Emirates Day 1 / routine Auckland
22 February USA   Day 0 / routine Auckland

No previously reported cases have recovered. The total number of active cases in New Zealand is 60. Our total number of confirmed cases is 2,007.

The total number of tests processed by laboratories to date is 1,666,446.

On Monday, 4,123 tests were processed. The seven-day rolling average up to yesterday is 10,096 tests processed.

Historical cases

Since January 1, there have now been 33 historical cases, out of a total of 190 cases.

NZ COVID Tracer

It remains critical to keep track of where you’ve been and the COVID Tracer app is an easy way to do this. Please continue to scan QR codes wherever you go and turn on Bluetooth tracing in the app dashboard if you haven’t already done so.

NZ COVID Tracer now has 2,674,755 registered users, an increase of more than 110,000 users in the last fortnight.  

Poster scans have reached 192,387,972 and users have created 7,740,622 manual diary entries. Scans in the last 24 hours 1,370,265.

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.

51 Comments

Hope they were isolating. If not Auckland might be yo-yoing back to level 3.

The problem is that with about 0% of the population vaccinated and very few previous cases there are no firebreaks to slow the virus down. Remember that the UK thought it had Coronavirus in hand back in October but then winter came and cases grew exponentially completely overwhelming their ability to trace cases or warn people they where contacts.

I don't think it was winter that started the second wave in the UK. It kicked off when they sent schools and Unis back just like everyone outside of the govt said it would

Wonder if the student was tested in the initial round at the school 15th-16th?

When you say "1500 students plus teachers are going to be required to get another test." doe sthe bill of rights still apply?
I suppose that also means does it still apply to the mass vaccination program that governements are suggesting as well..

Just citing point 11 in the bill of rights : "Right to refuse to undergo medical treatment"
Just because someone says it doesn't mean you "have" to do it...

Putting aside whether a test can be considered "treatment" it would be some really uncivil behavior to refuse taking a bit of your personal time to get a test for the common good of your fellow citizens as well as your own one.

Apparently it is considered a treatment - they went down this route when MIQ came in and decided technically, yes it did. Hence why you can refuse an MIQ test, but you then have to stay longer.

That doesn't sound too good, thanks for the clarification.

The bill of rights issue revolved around a medical "procedure" not treatment. A covid test is defined as a "procedure", which you have the right to refuse.

That's how I understand it, you can refuse the test but the health ministry has been delegated the authority to quarantine people so typically people prefer to take the test.

Not saying people shouldnt have the test, I 100% believe we need to identify the risk (I've done 2x myself) - but I do have an issue with people saying they 'have' to do something that is not legally true

'legality' is not the core issue. Should have had the test as a responsible person who had concern for the health of the rest of us.
But apparently that's not important.

I think in NZ if you have TB you can be forced into isolation? Not sure about testing for though.

15
up

Can you imagine being so awful you wouldn't take a sterile swab in the mouth or nose to potentially save thousands of lives? I volunteered for the test when they were doing the sentinel screening among Hospital staff - it's absolutely nothing to worry about.

You do realise the vaccination programme is voluntary?

11
up

Perfect chance to make a point.

"No property market reforms? No jab for me" and tell them exactly why.

Irresponsible comment? When there are people standing in front of tanks to make their point elsewhere, maybe not.

I like this a lot.

Downtrodden renters are generally young and healthy and have nothing to fear from the boogeyvirus.

Kia kaha, Papatoe!

The team of 43,599!!!

Build a wall around it!

Oh, sorry, wrong country.

I had a feeling that the Government was cutting it too fine with the lock down period in this case. I.e. a more virulent strain with less conservative lock period than previously. A lot of other people including the media expressed this. a minimum of 14 days seems more appropriate. They have been very lucky to date and are pushing their luck too far.

If these people had isolated at home until receiving a negative test as they had been told to do, there wouldn't have been any problems.

How many times do we have to learn the lesson that people do not do as they are asked. Ticking a box in Wellington does not go any where near adequate management. Look at all the problems we had with the MIQ facilities and arguably they were a lot more firmly managed than random individuals in the community.

Just pointing out they weren't "cutting it fine" as you said. This isn't a case of "they didn't lock down long enough and as a direct result of not locking down long enough we now have a resurgence because they weren't able to detect all of the COVID circulating in the community".

It's a case of "someone didn't follow instructions, and as a direct result of not following those instructions we now have a resurgence".

If Auckland had stayed in level 3 longer then this person would not have gone to Kmart to work, that much is clear. And in that sense, having a longer lock down is a backstop in the case were people don't follow instructions.

But there are other backstops too - such as physically visiting the houses of all families who they had not been able to contact trace as of Thursday when Auckland went back to level 2. They apparently didn't do that, and it's an obvious thing they could have done in this case, given the small number of outstanding contacts and the fact the school should have address details for everyone attending.

In this case the problem is not that the lockdown didn't last long enough. The problem is people not following instructions, and appropriate other measures in place to account for that. Keeping Auckland in lockdown for longer is far too big a cudgel to crack such a small nut as 1 family not following instructions.

And this incompetent bunch, let the school go back to normal when there is an incubation period of 14 days. Businesses are suffering with these lockdowns. It's all Kia Kaha.

The press has become so blinded by Jacinda and asking no difficult questions. All the hard work of kiwis down the toilet. I can see another lockdown coming

This should not come as a surprise as it takes days after you contract it to show up as a positive result. The "Lag" in this and the time it takes to develop symptoms is what makes it so dangerous and hard to chase. How this has not already turned into a major outbreak to date is just pure luck. Better hope our luck doesn't run out because this is still being hopelessly handled by the government.

There is something missing in the tests and results times and durations of Paptoetoe HS and any close+ contacts related to Papatoetoe HS. If I've understand correctly MoH still haven't found two people after at least a week and possibly closer to two. Bloomfield never says someone has been around to their place of residence and found no one there neither does he say they left messages by phone and email and still are unable to make contact. I'm beginning to think this is a desk johnnie/jane trying by phone and leaving it at that. No follow up and supervisors just accepting whatever the contactor comes up with.
I have serious doubts about the testing process and timeous MoH contact tracing ability.

By tomorrow we will have had the vaccines on our shores for 10 days. How many have been administered so far? We want totals revised daily. And when is the next lot coming? If we leave this to the Hippo to do it all at his own pace God knows how long it might take.

Do some research and watch or read the news sites. Limited number of vaccines available go to at risk personell - border staff, then MIQ staff then at risk populace, then general populace. If the majority of population want to be vaccinated it'll be late this year before that's achieved. Common knowledge amongst those who keep up

Hook... I totally understand the priority order and my question had no relevance to when the general population would get it. I simply wanted to know, after 10 days how many people had been vaccinated so far, whether we would get daily updates on this total and when the next shipment is expected to arrive. Do you know or know where we can find out?

general management and specifically govt mushroom principle. Keep em in the dark and feed them manure once a week. In govt's case more like once every two or three weeks.

$10 says the first shipment has not been fully administered yet.

Roger.... $10 says less than a third of the new shipment has been administered. Why are they not giving us a daily progress report? It should be public info, that many are interested in following.

$100 says we will not have half the nz population vaccinated by Xmas.

You would think most of us would be done by Xmas but then.....

Hook... did the research for you. According to CNN health as at yesterday (23 Feb) NZ had vaccinated 100 people after receiving the doses 9 days prior. So the Hippo has been moving even slower than we would have expected. I will report the progress here every 3 days so we can all judge the level of efficiency for ourselves. Media plz include the question at your briefings.

According to Hipkins, there have now been over 1,000 people vaccinated.

Another 76,000 doses of the pfizer vaccine arrived yesterday and are now undergoing quality assurance and checks (which is why they couldn't start vaccinating people on day 1 like you demanded they do, calling on your extensive expertise in managing vaccine programmes). There were 490,000 special purpose needles received yesterday, to help maximise delivery of vaccine.

By the end of March we're due to receive 450,000 more doses of the pfizer vaccine.

Sp maybe they have done 900 in the last 24 hours. still pretty piss poor. Are there reasons (apart from inefficiency) why these special needles were not ordered and received months ago? Specifically what quality assurance and checks needed to be done once vaccines arrived, what is the time frame for these checks and do you feel it is a reasonable performance to have had vaccines for 10 days and only done 1000 vaccinations? Almost all other even far less developed countries with much bigger logistical issues than NZ seem to be vaccinating far more people on a day to day basis than NZ? Why?
What would you expect would be a reasonable time frame to administer the 60K that we first received. I would say any longer than 3 weeks is questionable but am happy to hear why there are justifications or reasons as to why it may take longer?

They need to get the vaccine out to the general public. So much for New Zealand being front of the queue. There has been some good management of Covid 19 but there has also been a big element of luck. Sooner or later that luck is going to run out.

Guess Grant Robertson will be delaying his speech another month...

Ha!
Strong chance we will be back to level 3 in the next few days I reckon.
Gold for this phoney government.

To me the timing of this looks like a win.

School opened yesterday, only to those who had been tested, and confirmed negative
The student who had not been successfully contacted or tested was off school yesterday. They were tested yesterday, and today confirmed as positive.

I suspect they were bounced from school, took the test, and here we are.
Good result if so.

Not really a win. Who were they mixing and mingling with prior to trying to get back to school? Why did the family member not stay home as advised and go to work? Kmart could've claimed the Covid leave payment for that worker. It's what it's there for. Should MoH start contacting employers and advising them of employees they are directing to stay home? Should employers be fined immediately for making employees with when they've been told to isolate? This is going to be the end of NZs luck. Level 4 by April.

"School opened yesterday, only to those who had been tested, and confirmed negative"

Tested extremely early in a possible 14 day incubation cycle. That's the problem. The timing on this one thing might look like a win, but the potential impact of a loss in the 'welp we tested too early, turns out someone did have it after all' after going back to school and going back to L1 is massive.

They weren't tested "extremely early" in a 14 day incubation cycle.

They were tested at or around day 5 after exposure, in line with MoH recommendations. The exposure event was on Wednesday 10th of Feb when the daughter of the Skychef's worker was last at school, and tests were carried out last week. The school was shut the week of Monday 15th.

This latest case was *not* tested last week. If she had been, it is likely she would have been a weak positive last week. Instead they ignored MoH guidelines and didn't isolate at home until a negative test was returned - she went to work at KMart on the Thursday/Friday I believe (or perhaps Friday/Saturday).

Apparently contact tracing couldn't get in contact with this family, which I find odd because the school should have full contact details for the family - I would have thought when Auckland moved to level 2 on Thursday if they hadn't gotten in contact with everyone via phone they would have physically visited the households, but apparently not.

As we have seen from recent cases. It is low risk for exponential transmission unless you get a super spreader. Every new case in the community is a potential super spreader in the days they are infectious prior to being tested. That is why we keep arrivals from overseas in MIQ for 14 days and test them twice. I think the phrase they came up with as a result of the focus group was "an abundance of caution " . Unfortunately the other focus group said Level 3 sucks we want level 1.

We have already had at least one case of someone testing negative at day 14 in MIQ later testing positive, and that was under previous strains. This is a lesson we seem determined not to learn. Either we're doing things "out of abundance of caution" or we aren't.

Or maybe we are; from Stuff:

"The new community cases mean that directive is again in force, with health authorities saying on Tuesday some original test results may have been “early negatives” – results received soon after becoming infected, when there is not enough of the virus in a patient’s body to be detected."

We have already had at least one case of someone testing negative at day 14 in MIQ later testing positive, and that was under previous strains.

I believe you're referring to the recent Pullman hotel cases, where it was clear people were infected towards the end of their stay, had a negative test, and then went on to develop an infection.

Unless we know precisely what day they were infected (which we don't), there's not much to be said about the fact that the day 14 test result was negative - if they had been infected on day 7-8 then a negative test on 14 is informative and (slightly) alarming, but if they were infected on day 13-14 then a negative test on day 14 is not surprising at all.

Regardless, the actual problem with the Pullman hotel was the fact that they were infected while in MIQ (which should not happen), not that they were 'tested too early'. If you want to go with the 'tested too early' on day 14 approach, then it logically means you'd need to keep people in MIQ for even longer, perhaps as long as 21-28 days, to ensure they couldn't have picked up an infection while in MIQ at all.

So much for voluntary testing. On MSM the principal says some students took informed decisions not to be tested. They are teenagers. Good to boast to your friends "I'm not having a test. Its against my human rights"

They aren't allowed to return to school until they've had a negative test or isolated for 14 days. Doesn't seem unreasonable.