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Covid 19 coronavirus: Community case is South African strain

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The Covid-19 community case in Northland is the South African strain, Covid recovery minister Chris Hipkins says.

The South African variant is more infectious than the original strain of coronavirus.

“We know where the source of the infection is,” said Hipkins, who is updating on the case with director general of health Ashley Bloomfield.

Travellers who stayed in MIQ at Pullman Hotel from January 9-24 are being asked to self-isolate “immediately”, Hipkins said.

The community case – a 56-year-old woman who lives south of Whangarei – was in managed isolation in the Pullman Hotel.

Officials are reviewing CCTV at the Pullman Hotel to look at how the infection occurred, he said.

It has been decided this morning to delay the release of people staying at the Pullman, he said.

Forty-six people are impacted by that decision, he said.

Of approximately 220 staff at the Pullman staff, 114 have been tested this week, he said.

The remainder of tests will be completed by 4pm.

Bloomfield said contact tracing on the case has identified 15 people as close contacts

Thirteen of them worked in retail stores and it is not immediately clear who served the case, he said.

“All have been contacted.”

So far we know the woman’s two closest contacts have returned negative tests which are encouraging, he said.

“What we know so far is it may be more transmissible,” he said of the South African variant.

“They are not confined to specific countries,” Bloomfield says.

Woman's husband and hairdresser test negative

The woman’s husband has tested negative, Hipkins said this morning, as had another close contact.

She left on January 13 and, after developing Covid symptoms, was tested on Friday January 22.

Between leaving the Pullman and Covid being confirmed on Saturday, she visited 28 places around Northland (see the list below) and anyone there at the same time has been asked to get a test and to self-isolate until the results are known.

The woman arrived back in New Zealand from Europe on December 30 and spent 14 days at the Pullman. After getting a negative tests on January 2 and 10 before leaving.

The woman has been praised for assiduously using QR codes which has given a detailed record of her movements while possibly infectious.

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