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Covid 19 coronavirus: No new community cases connected to Auckland’s latest outbreak

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There are no new cases of Covid-19 in the community.

Officials have just released the information in a statement, saying there has been no known further transmission of cases related to Auckland’s Valentine’s Day cluster.

There are, however, two new Covid-19 cases in managed isolation.

Other than the known cases already reported, all close contacts associated with the Auckland cluster case households, school and travel groups to New Plymouth have returned negative results.

Contact tracing has identified a total of 128 close contacts linked to the cluster, the Ministry of Health said. Of these, 120 have returned a negative test result.

Health teams are still awaiting test results for the other eight people. Seven of these are from the medical clinic and relate to Case C, which is considered a low risk exposure event, and one is a workplace contact of Case E.

Health teams investigating Papatoetoe High School and LSG Sky Chefs

As at 8.00am this morning, a total of 31 close contacts and 1423 “casual plus contacts” have been identified at Papatoetoe High School. The number of casual plus contacts has decreased as some were not at school at the time of exposure.

Of these so-called casual plus contacts made up of students and staff from the school, 1396 have returned negative results. There is one positive (Case E), and 26 test results are still to come back, health officials said.

“We do remind all students and staff at the school to please stay home and have a test if they haven’t already,” the Ministry of Health said. “School is expected to return on Monday February 22. Close contacts at the school will not be able to return until they have been advised by public health that they can.”

Health teams investigating the origin of the cluster have also tested staff at LSG Sky Chefs, where one of the first cases identified worked.

All nine contacts in the workplace’s laundry have returned negative results. Of the 444 people in the wider working environment, 387 are negative and 56 results are still to come (1 positive, Case B).

There are nine community testing centres available for testing across Auckland this weekend– they are in Takanini, Wiri, Otara, Botany, Balmoral, New Lynn, Henderson and Northcote, as well as the dedicated testing site at Papatoetoe High School.

The pop-up testing centre at Papatoetoe High School is also open over the weekend and nearby community testing centres are operating extended hours to ensure the school community has convenient access to testing. A Covid-19 test is free wherever you go.

Health teams testing Auckland’s wastewater have also found no evidence of Covid-19.

Samples taken on February 18 at four Auckland sites, including near Papatoetoe and at sites in Christchurch and Hamilton have all returned negative results.

Seven cases in total connected to Auckland's Valentine's Day cluster

Seven cases are so far connected to the mystery outbreak first uncovered on Valentine’s Day, when three people in a family tested positive – including the mother who works at LSG Sky Chefs and handles laundry for international airlines.

Health officials yesterday revealed a fourth family member had also tested positive.

One of the others to test positive is a student from Papatoetoe High School, who infected a classmate, who in turn passed on the virus to her brother and mother.

Genomic testing this week confirmed the two families are infected with an identical Covid-19 strain, confirming the chain of transmission.

The infection source for the first family is still a mystery.

A potential clue was uncovered earlier this week when officials found a “possible” similarity between case A’s sequence and that of someone who stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton MIQ facility in Auckland.

However, this theory is considered “very unlikely” by director general of health Ashley Bloomfield, who said the most likely scenario is the case was contracted at the border.

“The airport precinct seems the most likely route of infection – we just need to get to the bottom of how [the LSG worker] has been exposed.”

Because of this, he confirmed this week that officials are investigating if staff mingling at a canteen at Sky Chef could be linked to the initial outbreak.

Bloomfield will also front a press conference at 1.30pm about today’s start of the vaccine rollout.

About 100 vaccinators, who themselves have received the jab, will start vaccinating border workers at the Jet Park quarantine facility before rolling out the vaccination programme across all MIQ facilities.

That is expected to take about two or three weeks.

The Pfizer vaccine requires two jabs about three weeks apart in order to be effective.

Vaccination of the general population is expected to start in the middle of the year.


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