Covid 19 Coronavirus: Another fisherman positive; cluster source identified

New Zealand has one new case of Covid-19 in managed isolation.

The Ministry of Health said the new case was a member of the Russian and Ukrainian mariners group who tested positive.

This person was a close contact of a previously reported case from the group who had tested positive during day 6 testing and as such was already being closely monitored.

More than 400 seaman arrived in New Zealand mid-October on a charter flight to work on fishing vessels. Within the first three days of their arrival a major outbreak of Covid-19 saw their managed isolation facility go into lockdown with 30 mariners now testing positive for the infection.

The ministry said the new case “gives us confidence that the standard practice for managing cases and contacts within managed isolation, supplemented by extending the isolation period and additional testing, was the right approach to take in the circumstances”.

Day 15 testing would be carried out this weekend of all group members who are not already confirmed cases.

“All those who meet our low risk indicators, which include those who’ve recovered or have returned consistently negative test results throughout their stay, will be eligible to leave managed isolation from next Tuesday 3 November.”

Cluster source identified

It’s now been a fortnight since our most recent community outbreak when a marine engineer came down with Covid symptoms, testing positive on October 16.

Today, the Ministry said genome sequencing confirmed he was infected while working on the Sofrana Surville ship which later travelled back to Australia.

Testing on the ship’s crew in Queensland had returned the genome subtype linked to the Auckland case, the ministry said.

“The Brisbane sequence was one mutation earlier than the genomes sequenced from our New Zealand cases. This supports our view that the index case in this group was infected by on board exposure to new crew members who joined the Sofrana Surville in Auckland.

“We continue to investigate the exact circumstances where the infection might have occurred to inform any changes to protocols designed to keep workers and our communities safe.”

Three others connected to the 27-year-old initially through his workplace and then spreading onto their household contacts fell ill in the group deemed the marine engineer cluster.

Despite health scares and extensive self-isolation and increased testing across north Auckland businesses, including a Greenhithe pub, The Malt which remained closed for a fortnight, the potential community transmission appears to have been stemmed to the quartet.

Yesterday the health ministry announced crew on a second ship the man worked on in New Plymouth had undergone extensive testing and had all returned a second negative test result.

Crew of the cargo ship Ken Rei had been waiting out their period of self-isolation off the Napier coastline.

The ship yesterday departed Napier heading for Tauranga.

Confirmed cases

New Zealand’s total number of confirmed cases is now 1594.

Three cases have now recovered, meaning the total number of active cases is 68.

Yesterday our laboratories completed 7472 tests for Covid-19, bringing the total number of tests completed to date to 1,090,702.

This is the second consecutive day of more than seven thousand tests completed.

“It is good to see a sustained response to the call for anyone with symptoms to be tested,” the ministry said.

There are now 2,333,600 users registered on NZ Covid Tracer.

The app has recorded a total of 102,697,098 poster scans and users have created a total of 4,301,876 manual diary entries.

“The more we scan, the safer we’ll be,” the ministry said.

“The faster we respond, the faster we stop Covid-19.”

Maritime crew testing

Today health minister Chris Hipkins moved to further tighten the risk of the infection spreading through the border with the introduction of compulsory testing for all foreign maritime crew.

It will begin from next week with any maritime crew in managed isolation for more than 24 hours requiring a Covid-19 test.

At the same time, foreign maritime crew leaving New Zealand will also be tested.

Previously, testing only happened if a crew member is staying in New Zealand for an extended period of time.

Meanwhile, New Zealand authorities were continuing to work with their Japanese counterparts regarding a New Zealand child who returned a weak positive Covid-19 test after they arrived in Japan last Friday.

At this stage health officials suspect this was a historical case or a false positive result, and were due to provide further details when they became available.

As of yesterday, there had been no community cases for seven days with all new cases contained in managed isolation having recently arrived in New Zealand from overseas.

Seventy people remained ill with Covid-19 in New Zealand yesterday.

There were 1593 confirmed cases in New Zealand since the start of the outbreak in February.

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