A community case in Hamilton is likely to be a historical infection, and is not considered infectious, the Ministry of Health confirmed.
Whole genomic testing of the Hamilton community case, who returned three negative results while in managed isolation at Auckland’s Pullman Hotel, only to test positive while self-isolating in Hamilton, has been “inconclusive” and will be rerun.
In a statement on Sunday, the Ministry reiterated its belief that the case posed a low risk to public health.
One of the country’s two new Covid-19 cases picked up at the border on Sunday also returned a positive test result after being taken to an Auckland hospital for a condition unrelated to the virus, a Ministry of Health spokesperson said.
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The remaining 60 returnees at the Pullman would be released on Sunday, after completing health checks.
That’s despite University of Otago professor of public health Michael Baker calling for authorities to consider delaying their release.
The facility was not taking any new returnees and would undergo a deep clean.
Pullman (MIQ) guests were required to self-isolate for an additional five days after completing their 14-day stint at the hotel.
This new requirement was brought in after the first three cases were picked up.
Departing Pullman guests would now have to return a negative test result on day five, and need to wear a mask when they sought that test.
“During this period, they will be contacted daily by health professionals for health and wellbeing check-ups. If they become symptomatic following their departure from the facility, they are advised to call Healthline immediately,” a ministry statement read.
“These interim measures will be in place while a previously-announced review is undertaken into how transmission occurred in the Pullman … and the emerging evidence of Covid variant.”
The four cases, which included a Northland woman and a father and daughter from Auckland, had all been staying on the same floor as the other confirmed cases, who had the variant of the virus from South Africa.
Two people sharing a home with the Hamilton case were being treated as close contacts, but have returned negative Covid-19 results. The positive case had been transferred to Auckland’s Jet Park quarantine facility.
While there were no known locations of interest or exposure events linked to the Hamilton case, testing capacity at Founders Theatre was expanded on Saturday, with an additional testing centre set up at Claudelands Events Centre.
However, when Stuff called past on Sunday the Claudeland’s centre was closed with directions pointing people to the Founders site. The Founders site remained relatively empty most of the day.
It also appeared that Hamilton shoppers were not panicking over news of the case, with a large amount of shoppers seen by a Stuff reporter entering shops and stores without scanning the Covid-19 tracer app.
On Sunday, the Ministry said a recent returnee who arrived from Zambia via the United Arab Emirates (UAE) tested positive while receiving hospital care for a condition unrelated to the virus.
Local health officials said Covid-19 infection and prevention protocols were followed to ensure public and healthcare worker safety, with the Ministry offering assurances that public hospitals were safe to visit.
The other new case was a person who arrived in Auckland from the UAE on February 4, bringing New Zealand’s total number of active cases to 66 and the overall total of confirmed cases to 1964.
Laboratories have processed more than 1.5 million Covid-19 tests to date, with 4,044 of them processed on Saturday alone.
Scans of the NZ Covid Tracer app posters have reached 172,847,125, while more than 7 million manual diary entries created.