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Thursday, February 29, 2024

NZ set for surge in cases

New Zealand could awake to nine COVID-19 cases tomorrow, with one new case confirmed this evening and an additional four cases still under investigation.

Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the four cases still to be confirmed were linked to the four community-based cases identified yesterday that ended the country’s 102-day case-free run.

He said the four possible cases were tonight still awaiting test results.

“We will make available the test results as soon as we have them, but they are all being treated as probable cases and therefore are in full isolation and full contact tracing has been initiated for those cases,” said Dr Bloomfield.

“The new case currently in isolation is a woman aged in her 50s who arrived in New Zealand on August 7 from Islamabad, Pakistan via Dubai.”

Meanwhile up to 200 close contacts of the four family cases confirmed yesterday have been located and tested for COVID-19.

Dr Bloomfield said the contacts were mainly linked to two workplaces connected to the infected family members.

He said workers from Auckland-based refrigerated goods transport company, Americold and Finance Now on Dominion Road in Auckland’s CBD, had been ordered to self-isolate at home for 14 days.

“Just over 200 close contacts have been identified and over a hundred of those have already been phoned and spoken with,” Dr Bloomfield said.

“The workplaces are closed, and workers are to stay at home until they were contacted and given further instructions.”

He said the self-isolation order also applied to anyone who visited the businesses in the last 14 days.

“We are taking a rapid response to break the chain of transmission through contact tracing, testing and the gathering of information,” said Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.

Public testing has been prioritised in Rotorua, after it was revealed one of the family members from the infected household visited the town at the weekend while symptomatic.

“We have seen in other countries, and jurisdictions, like in Victoria, in Hong Kong and in Vietnam, where a resurgence occurs that it is incredibly important to act early,” said Dr Bloomfield.

The family remains in isolation at home in south Auckland, with authorities yet to decide if they’ll be moved to a quarantine facility.

Dr Bloomfield said officials had not ruled out the potential for coronavirus to have been transmitted elsewhere in New Zealand.

“Of course we want to get to the bottom of that,” Dr Ashley Bloomfield said.

The restrictions enacted today make it unlawful for people in Auckland to leave their homes unless for essential movements such as grocery shopping or exercise.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has also announced a mandatory QR code for Auckland businesses, to help with contact tracing, and face masks for people leaving Auckland.

Visitors staying in Auckland are being urged to return home, while local residents have been told to wear masks.

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