Covid 19 coronavirus: One new case connected to Auckland’s Valentine’s Day outbreak

There is one new case of Covid-19 in the community linked to the Valentine’s Day outbreak.

The case is in the same household as the second family infected through a chain of transmission at Papatoetoe High School.

Officials have just released the information.

The latest case previously returned a negative test on Monday, and had been isolating at home. They are now being moved to the Auckland quarantine facility.

There is one more member of the second household who hasn’t tested positive but who is also being moved to the Jetpark to be with their family.

There are three cases in MIQ facilities today. One is classified as historical so is not infectious.

Of the 128 close contacts of all the cases in this cluster, 112 have tested negative and 16 test results are outstanding.

Seven of these are linked to the medical clinic in Case C and these people are considered low risk while nine of the outstanding tests relate to the workplace of someone in the second household. All are in isolation.

As at 8am today, 31 close contacts and 1476 casual plus contacts had been identified at Papatoetoe High School.

The Ministry of Health said the number of casual plus contacts had decreased as these people were not at school at the time of exposure.

“We do remind all students and staff at the school to please stay home and have a test if they haven’t already. School is expected to return on Monday February 22.

“Close contacts at the school will not return until they have been advised by public health that they can.”

As well, all staff at LSG Sky Chefs have been tested – nine people who work in the laundry with one of the first cases have all tested negative and of the 444 people at the workplace there are 59 results pending.

“Investigations will continue today into the second household group, including further interviews with contact tracing staff. As a result, a potential increase in the number of locations of interest, close and casual plus contacts is not unexpected.

“The priority is for close contacts and close casual contacts to be tested so we can understand any risk in the community.”

Health officials are still to find the source of the outbreak.

In their investigations into the possible genomic similarity to a guest at the Sheraton managed isolation facility, they have contacted guests and their household contacts.

Of the 265 people in the Four Points Sheraton Hotel, 176 have now been contacted. Of these:

• 149 have been assessed and cleared;

• 9 are now overseas;

• 18 are being followed up by public health units for further investigation.

Of the 89 people to be contacted, finding services have provided details for 44 and they are being contacted. Finding services are actively pursuing details for the remaining 45 individuals.

“ESR and health officials do not consider this a likely source of infection at this stage,” said the ministry.

There are nine community testing centres available for testing across Auckland this weekend in Takanini, Wiri, Otara, Botany, Balmoral, New Lynn, Henderson and Northcote, as well as the dedicated testing site at Papatoetoe High School. There are also pop-up testing centres at the school open over the weekend,.

No evidence of a wider Covid-19 outbreak has been detected.

Following the recent outbreak, samples for wastewater testing were also be taken from Pukekohe, Maraetai/Beachlands and Whangaparaoa but none were positive. The results from three other sites in Auckland are due back tomorrow.

Following the new cases, the total number of active cases is 50 and the total number of confirmed cases is 1992.

On Thursday, 10,833 tests were processed.

The Ministry of Health also had a message for Aucklanders: “Aucklanders can keep enjoying their summer if everyone continues with the simple health behaviours that’ll protect your families and others and keep the virus in check”.

Those actions are:

• Stay home if you’re feeling unwell and get advice about a COVID-19 test

• Wash your hands

• Scan QR codes

• Turn on Bluetooth tracing on the NZ COVID Tracer app

• Wear a face covering on public transport and on domestic flights.

You are also encouraged to wear face coverings in situations where physical distancing is not possible, like in shops.

Businesses also have an important role to play:

• Put up plenty of QR code posters in your shop/café/restaurant/bar

• Invite your customers to scan in as they go in

• Encourage everyone to wash or sanitise their hands

Before today, there were six cases connected to the mystery outbreak first uncovered on Valentine’s Day, when three people in a family tested positive – including the mother who works at LSG Sky Chefs and handles laundry for international airlines.

One of the others who tested positive is a student at Papatoetoe High School, who infected a classmate, who in turn passed on the virus to her brother and mother.

Genomic testing yesterday confirmed the strain of Covid-19 between the two families was identical, confirming the chain of transmission.

The Sheraton theory is considered “very unlikely” by Bloomfield, who said the most likely scenario is the case was contracted at the border.

“The airport precinct seems the most likely route of infection – we just need to get to the bottom of how [the LGS worker] has been exposed.”

Because of this, he confirmed yesterday that officials were investigating if staff mingling at a canteen at Sky Chef could be linked to the initial outbreak.

That means, according to Bloomfield, 444 other people working around the area of Sky Chef are of interest to the Ministry of Health, including people working at the site, as well as contractors who bring laundry and food to and from the airport.

So far, there are 350 negative tests with 93 still to come.

No new community cases of Covid-19 were announced yesterday.

After a sharp 72-hour lockdown to establish the extent of the outbreak, Cabinet decided on Wednesday to move Auckland back down to alert level 2 and the rest of the country to alert level 1.

They will reassess alert levels on Monday.

The vaccine rollout is also set to begin today, with 100 vaccinators themselves getting jabs.

They will start vaccinating border workers at the Jet Park quarantine facility before rolling out the vaccination programme across all MIQ facilities.

That is expected to take about two or three weeks.

The Pfizer vaccine also requires two jabs about three weeks apart in order to be effective.

Vaccination of the general population is expected to start in the middle of the year.

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