There are seven new cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, all in managed isolation.
The cases came from travellers returning from India, the US and London and were recorded since Sunday.
Eight previously reported cases have recovered, bringing the total number of active cases in New Zealand to 49. The total number of confirmed cases is 1795.
The details of the new border cases are:
One case arrived on December 14 from the United States. The person tested positive at routine testing around day 12 and has been transferred to quarantine in a facility in Christchurch.
One case arrived on December 22 from India. The person was tested on day six as they were a contact of a previously reported case. They have been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.
Two cases, travelling separately, arrived on December 24 from India via the United Arab Emirates. Both tested positive at routine testing around day three and have been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.
One case arrived on December 24 from the United States. The person tested positive at routine testing around day three and has been transferred to quarantine in a facility in Christchurch.
One case arrived on December 25 from London via Singapore and was tested on day two as they were symptomatic. The person has been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.
One case arrived on December 28 from the United States and was tested on day one as they were symptomatic. The person is in the Auckland quarantine facility.
Officials had last provided an update on Sunday, reporting then that there had been 16 new cases in the previous four days, 15 of which were at the border.
The other case was a historical one, which had been in the community seven months ago and under investigation before it was confirmed.
The historical case was a person, based in Christchurch, who returned a weak positive in May.
The person was in close contact with a family member who recently returned from overseas and who was self-isolating at home – before MIQ facilities had been established.
The person fully recovered in May and is now being recorded as a community case. The investigation has formally been closed.
The Covid Tracer app has 2,422,800 users and there have been 145,323,663 poster scans. App users have created 5,859,983 manual diary entries.
The total number of tests processed by the Ministry of Health’s laboratories to date is 1,398,932.
New Zealanders are reminded to be vigilant for any symptoms of Covid-19 over the summer break, and people should not attend events if they are feeling unwell.
Virus symptoms include a new or worsening cough, fever (at least 38C), shortness of breath, a sore throat, sneezing and runny nose and temporary loss of smell.
“If you begin to experience any Covid-19 symptoms at an event, don’t stick around, take yourself home,” the ministry says.
“Immediately contact Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or your health professional, who can advise whether you should be tested. If you are advised to get a test, please do so; do not wait to get tested. Testing is free.”
Man dies in Auckland managed isolation facility
A man who recently arrived from overseas has died while in managed isolation at a hotel in downtown Auckland.
Authorities have confirmed the 63-year-old died at the Grand Millennium Auckland yesterday but had not displayed Covid-19 symptoms.
Police confirmed they were notified of the sudden death yesterday afternoon and that it appeared to be related to a medical event.
Managed Isolation and Quarantine deputy chief Andrew Milne said the man was from the Pacific.
Downtown Sydney on alert
NSW Health has issued alerts for major shopping outlets and public transport routes in the heart of Sydney, amid concerns the city’s Covid-19 outbreak will spread further.
The move comes as people were fined for attending a wedding against lockdown rules, and New Year’s Eve celebrations are restricted.
Among the affected venues are the David Jones store on Castlereagh St, the Uniqlo in MidCity and Kinokuniya bookstore on George St.
There are also alerts for the eastern suburbs, including Bondi Beach Woolworths and Edgecliff Coles.
Meanwhile, police have issued fines to nine northern beaches residents after they were caught attending a wedding in Sydney’s CBD.
It comes as strict new restrictions for Sydney’s New Year’s Eve celebrations are announced.
There will be no crowds at festivities around Sydney Harbour this year, despite previous restrictions allowing frontline workers access to view the midnight fireworks via a permit system.
The tradition of camping out at vantage points around the city has also been banned unless it’s a council-run ticketed event.
Government warned against pre-departure testing
The Government is being warned against introducing a pre-departure Covid-19 test for desperate New Zealanders attempting to get home from high-risk countries.
Yesterday, the Government announced an extra day-one Covid-19 test, in addition to the day-three and day-12 tests, as an extra layer of protection amid new variants of the virus emerging overseas. The tests will be taken from December 31.
But it’s the idea of a pre-departure test that has some scratching their heads.
The new proposal of a pre-departure test would cover people travelling from Britain, where they’ve gone back into lockdown because of the new variants of the virus.
Anyone required to get a pre-departure test would have to pay for it themselves and microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles said it may create unfair barriers.
“The problems with requiring a test is where do people get a test, how available is it to get a test, and how reliable are the tests that people get … and then there’s the problem of who can afford the test,” Wiles said.
It may not stop the virus either, she said.
“There’s no guarantee that when you get tested and you test negative, that you then wouldn’t become positive en route to the airport, or on the plane.”
Minister for Covid-19 response Chris Hipkins called the pre-departure test an extra hurdle, and said it had not been considered lightly.
– Additional reporting by RNZ, News.com.au.
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