New Zealand yesterday recorded 11 new domestic COVID-19 cases, as health officials raced to find a link between a mysterious case that emerged in Auckland and the outbreak.
New Zealand’s outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 reached 879 cases yesterday, although it was the seventh consecutive day that the number of cases had been below 21.
The downward trend is an encouraging sign that tough lockdown measures are working, but the mystery case might be cause for concern.
The Australian Department of Health on Thursday night said that a woman presented to an Auckland hospital’s emergency department for a health issue unrelated to COVID-19. She did not have any COVID-19 symptoms and answered all screening questions in the negative, indicating that she had had no exposure to anyone with the virus, nor had been at any location of interest.
While the woman was at the hospital, she took a COVID-19 test. After discharging herself two hours later, she was told her test had come back positive. She was placed in managed isolation.
The hospital was working alongside the Auckland Regional Public Health Service to assess the risk of this exposure.
All staff in the emergency department and adult short-stay area were wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment required for that area of the hospital. The risk to those staff members is considered extremely low and no staff are being stood down.
New Zealand Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told reporters yesterday that the woman was being interviewed to try to establish a link.
“This is one of those small handful of cases that we’re particularly concerned about finding out what the link is to the existing outbreak,” Bloomfield said.
The hospital’s chief medical officer, Peter Watson, said that 36 patients and a small number of visitors had been identified as potentially exposed.
The New Zealand Herald reported that seven police officers had been stood down after coming into contact with the woman and a member of her family on Wednesday.
The hospital is in south Auckland, where many of the cases in the current outbreak live.
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