Covid 19 coronavirus: Close contacts of community case test negative

All of the close contacts of the Northland community case have been tested and all have returned negative results.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said this was “encouraging”.

Tthere have been no new cases in the community connected to the Northland woman who tested positive on Sunday after leaving managed isolation at Auckland’s Pullman Hotel on January 13.

Director general of Health Ashley Bloomfield said there were “encouraging signs” in Northland but the situation was still unfolding.

“We’re not breathing out just yet.”

The close contacts of the Northland woman will remain in isolation for the full 14 days despite testing negative.

The 353 guests at the Pullman Hotel at the same time as the woman are being contacted and tested – so far all staff and guests have tested negative.

Four new cases in MIQ

There are also four new cases in managed isolation facilities. The total number of active cases is 68 – including the one in the community.

Testing times

More than 10,800 tests were processed yesterday.

The more than 1.5 million tests completed since the pandemic began means that we have the highest rate of testing per positive case in the world, alongside Australia.

Bloomfield said Healthline had short wait times and demand for testing at Northland testing sites had eased.

There are 327 people who are confirmed as being at the locations of interest which the Northland community case visited – 127 of these people have tested negative. People should be isolating and getting tested if they were at those locations, Bloomfield said.

Yesterday contact tracers had identified 16 potential close contacts of the woman and of those 15 had tested negative, including her husband.

Bloomfield told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking earlier today that he did not think MIQ facilities were “too loose” in managing returnees, but procedures were still being reviewed to tighten any gaps that came to light.

He said any expert comments that highlighted flaws in how facilities were operating were always taken seriously.

A total of 102,000 people had come through MIQ since the facilities were established to manage returning Kiwis last year.

Bloomfield remained confident the Pfizer vaccine would arrive in this country in the first quarter.

Medsafe was expected to give approval for the vaccine next Tuesday at the earliest.

“We are confident of getting the vaccine when we said we’ll get it,” he said.

The Pullman Hotel, where the Northland woman was believed to have been infected, was audited yesterday. Bloomfield said it was now considered “really unlikely” that she was infected via the facility’s air conditioning system.

“We did an audit on the Pullman Hotel yesterday on the infection prevention control. We’ve expedited a look at the ventilation system. The ventilation system is really unlikely, we haven’t seen that as an issue around the globe, but we are not leaving any stone unturned.”

Yesterday 157 Pullman Hotel staff had been tested, along with 192 guests currently in the facility. Of those, 30 still have test results to come and all others tested negative.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday announced Medsafe approval for the Pfizer vaccine could happen as early as next week and frontline border workers will be the first to receive it.

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