Covid-19 coronavirus: Today’s case numbers update from Ministry of Health

There are six new Covid cases reported today, all in managed isolation.

The cases are travellers from Denmark, India and Serbia and Montenegro.

Health officials said the household of the infected MIQ worker remains under investigation.

One relative returned a ‘weak positive’ result after their first test and as a precaution, some colleagues at Countdown Quay St who worked closely with the person under investigation will stay home until they receive a day 5 negative test.

Shoppers and other staff are not considered to be at risk.

Meanwhile officials are also investigating the possibility of virus transmission within the Grand Mercure isolation hotel in relation to a day 12 at the facility.

Results from genome sequencing show a link between two guests at the Grand Mercure.

The returnees were staying in separate rooms on different floors. They arrived on separate flights within two days of each other. An investigation into the source of the infection is underway.

At this stage, no other cases within the facility have been found linked to these two cases but investigations continue.

As a precautionary measure, about 250 returnees who have left the facility since March 10 are being contacted today, asked to get tested immediately and remain in isolation at home until a negative result is returned.

Additional on-site testing is also being provided and exit tests put in place for all returnees leaving the facility.

Today’s case numbers come as the Government yesterday assured people there was little risk to the community after news of a Covid-positive MIQ worker.

Genome sequencing has linked the MIQ cleaner’s case to a returnee who was staying at the same facility – the Grand Millenium.

One of the worker’s household members returned a weak positive test but a second test came back negative.

The Ministry of Health said that could indicate an early and fleeting mild infection that has now passed, or it could be a false positive.  The household contact will remain ’under investigation’ and be managed as a close contact.

The rest of the household tested negative and the only location of interest listed by the Ministry of Health was the Countdown supermarket in Mt Roskill. Shoppers at the store between 3pm and 3.15pm on March 20 were classed as casual contacts and were asked to monitor their health until April 3 and get tested if they became unwell before then.

It was yesterday revealed the worker also visited Best Start childcare in St Lukes on Friday to collect a grandchild. It was closed for deep cleaning on Tuesday and parents had been informed.

A Ministry of Health spokesperson said the visit to the childcare centre was a “very low risk” of infection because the case spent less than 10 minutes picking up the child, without being in close contact with anyone.

Countdown Quay St also closed for deep cleaning on Tuesday after a staff member returned a weak positive result.

There were no new community cases reported yesterday however there were three in managed isolation.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins also outlined the criteria for early vaccination yesterday.

Top athletes and Kiwis visiting a dying loved one overseas would be among those eligible to jump the vaccine queue and get their jab early, he said.

To receive early vaccination under the national significance criteria an applicant must be representing New Zealand in an official capacity, at significant international events, or in an official non-government capacity.

Compassionate grounds would only be considered for those who needed to provide critical care or protection for a dependant, those who needed to access critical medical care not available in New Zealand, or anyone visiting an immediate family member who was dying.

These exemptions did not, however, apply to those looking to go overseas to attend a funeral.

New Zealand’s general vaccine rollout will begin midway through this year but the new criteria meant certain people could get the vaccine early.

Only those who needed to travel before August 31, who had already made commitments to return to New Zealand after they travel, would be eligible.

Hipkins said New Zealand’s Olympians were expected to be eligible. The Black Caps were also likely to get early vaccination so they could compete in the ICC World Test Championship final in the UK in June.

But those who are given the green light to get the jab to go overseas will still have to stay in managed isolation in New Zealand when they return home.

Hipkins also said the Government was “broadly on schedule” with vaccinations but when pressed, director-general of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield conceded that the rollout was “slightly behind schedule”.

“We have delivered about 93 per cent of where we plan to be so far,” Bloomfield said.

Hipkins said 41,500 vaccines had been administered – that’s up roughly 14,000 on the week prior.

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