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4 New Cases Of COVID-19 In Managed Isolation

There are four new cases of COVID-19 to report in managed isolation in New Zealand since our last media statement on Sunday.

There are no new cases in the community.

Of the new border cases:

Arrival date: 6 January
- One case arrived from Russia via Singapore and tested positive during routine testing around day 3. This person is in a quarantine facility in Christchurch.
- One case arrived from Russia via Singapore and tested positive during routine testing around day 0. This person is in a quarantine facility in Christchurch.
- One case arrived from Russia via the United Arab Emirates and tested positive during routine testing around day 3. This person is in a quarantine facility in Christchurch.
Note: The above three cases are part of the group of international mariners reported on yesterday. In total, 14 positive COVID-19 cases have been identified in this group: eight are deemed historical; three are new active cases; and further testing of the three new cases reported today may determine if they are also historical cases.

Arrival date: 9 January
- One case arrived from the United Kingdom via the United Arab Emirates and tested positive during routine testing around day 1. This person has been transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.
One case has now recovered. One previously reported case is now regarded as not a case. This case previously tested positive in the United Kingdom prior to travelling to New Zealand and has therefore been determined as a historical case. This case is being removed from New Zealand’s tally while we confirm it has been reported in the United Kingdom. The total number of active cases in New Zealand is now 77. Our total number of confirmed cases is 1,866.

The total number of tests processed by laboratories to date is 1,441,163.
COVID-19 variants

All positive COVID-19 tests in New Zealand are sent to ESR for whole genome sequencing as part of ongoing surveillance and our overall elimination strategy.
As reported in yesterday’s media release, whole genome sequencing has identified a total of 19 cases of COVID-19 at the border with the variant known as B.1.1.7 (UK variant) and one case with the variant identified as B.1.351 (South Africa variant) in New Zealand since 13 December 2020.

Please note that yesterday’s media release reported the UK variant as B1.1.17. This was incorrect. The correct variant is B.1.1.7.
Further work to identify and better understand these variants is ongoing in New Zealand and internationally. Current research suggests the B.1.1.7 variant is around one and a half times more transmissible than previous variants but there is no evidence at this stage that the length of the infection period is any different to any other variant of COVID-19, nor is there evidence that it causes more severe illness. We are also closely monitoring emerging research on the B.1.351 variant.
The recent increase in COVID-19 cases at New Zealand’s borders is expected, given case numbers continue to increase globally.

We are also expecting to see more historical cases being detected in managed isolation due to an increasing number of people becoming infected and recovering before travelling to New Zealand. While these individuals may still have residual viral particles in their nasopharynx, which are picked up by our tests, they are no longer considered to be infectious.

Anyone who has tested positive must meet the recovered case definition before being allowed to leave the facility as assessed by the medical team. This includes a period of at least 72 hours without any symptoms and a minimum of 10 days since symptom onset or a positive test.

The Ministry of Health continues to monitor overseas developments very closely and is constantly reviewing and strengthening our response to COVID-19. This includes optimising our current stringent border processes including testing, regularly reviewing infection prevention procedures and undertaking whole genome sequencing of all cases to ensure New Zealand stays free of COVID-19. Since 1 January 2021 people arriving from the US and UK are tested on arrival and required to stay in their room until they return a negative test result. In addition, pre-departure testing will start to come into effect later this week (11.59 pm NZT on 15 January 2021) with the aim of reducing the number of cases of COVID-19 arriving in New Zealand.


NZ COVID Tracer now has 2,436,500 registered users.

Poster scans have reached 150,761,051 and users have now created more than 6,085,446 manual diary entries.

Ministry of Health updates

The Ministry will continue to provide updates about cases and actions taken in response.

The frequency of reporting continues to reflect the routine nature of the cases appearing at the border in recent returnees in managed isolation facilities.

The Ministry will be releasing media updates on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

The Ministry's website will be updated with case numbers in line with these media updates.

These updates will provide the number of cases that have tested positive in managed isolation in the preceding days since the last update.

The public can be assured that the Ministry will report any significant development, including any case emerging in the community, outside these scheduled reporting dates if required.

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