Low risks after pos­i­tive cases

Three were found to have virus after they left NZ — cases in Korea, Aus­tralia

Herald on Sunday - - IN OTHER NEWS - Ben Leahy

Three pas­sen­gers have re­cently been de­tected with Covid-19 after fly­ing out of New Zealand, but health of­fi­cials re­main con­fi­dent the virus isn’t cir­cu­lat­ing in the com­mu­nity.

The cases in­cluded a Korean trav­eller in New Zealand, who tested pos­i­tive to Covid-19 after re­turn­ing to South Korea, and a woman, who tran­sited through Auck­land on July 6 en route from Los An­ge­les to Sydney.

The most re­cent case in­volved a woman who flew from Auck­land to Sydney on Air NZ flight NZ103 on July 20.

She went straight into quar­an­tine in Sydney where au­thor­i­ties tested her on her sec­ond day.

Her re­sults came back pos­i­tive for Covid-19 on July 26. The Auck­land Re­gional Pub­lic Health team were now in­ves­ti­gat­ing and fol­low­ing up with the woman’s con­tacts.

This in­cluded about 30 fam­ily and friends, the woman — who didn’t want to be named — told the Her­ald on Sun­day.

Most had al­ready tested neg­a­tive for Covid-19, but some were still wait­ing for their re­sults, she said.

She sus­pected her own Covid-19 re­sult was a so-called false pos­i­tive.

“I’m just very healthy and very lucky to be hon­est. I think peo­ple need to be aware that there are dif­fer­ent cases out there and you can be asymp­to­matic and still be pos­i­tive,” she said.

The woman had ear­lier re­turned to New Zealand from the United King­dom in March after the pan­demic hit Europe. She be­lieved she con­tracted the virus on her re­turn flight.

She lost her sense of smell and taste but was un­able to be tested be­cause strict cri­te­ria at the time meant doc­tors gen­er­ally did not send peo­ple for test­ing based on those symp­toms.

She said, as with the flu, she would have been in­fec­tious for a pe­riod in March but her pos­i­tive re­sult months later did not mean she was still con­ta­gious. She ended up spend­ing three weeks in iso­la­tion and then New Zealand went into lock­down.

It meant she didn’t see friends or fam­ily for quite some time and con­se­quently none of them later be­came ill in re­cent months.

Min­istry of Health of­fi­cials said it ap­peared the woman’s re­cent pos­i­tive test for Covid-19 did ap­pear to sug­gest she had been “an un­con­firmed case” back in March.

“We will con­tinue to fully in­ves­ti­gate the cir­cum­stances of this pos­i­tive re­sult, in­clud­ing travel his­tory,” the min­istry said.

They also said there was no ev­i­dence the Korean man had spread Covid-19 to Ki­wis dur­ing his re­cent trip here. The man was in South Auck­land from June 20 to July 20, Queen­stown from July 1 to 4 and in and around Christchur­ch Air­port on July 20 and 21, of­fi­cials said.

“All do­mes­tic con­tacts of this case tested to date have re­turned neg­a­tive re­sults,” of­fi­cials said.

As well as close con­tacts, the Min­istry of Health also un­der­took tar­geted sur­veil­lance in Queen­stown, South Auck­land and Christchur­ch linked to lo­ca­tions the Korean man had been. Health of­fi­cials had ear­lier said the risk of com­mu­nity trans­mis­sion from the man was low and that he likely con­tracted the virus after leav­ing New Zealand. Sim­i­larly, a woman who tested pos­i­tive in Aus­tralia after tran­sit­ing through Auck­land from Los An­ge­les on July 6 has been found not to have left Auck­land Air­port.

New Zealand’s of­fi­cial num­ber of Covid-19 cases, mean­while, of­fi­cially in­creased by two yes­ter­day to a total of 1212. They are women aged in their 20s and ar­rived from Pak­istan via Dubai on July 27.

Photo / Brett Phibbs

Drive-in test­ing at a tem­po­rary sta­tion at AUT’s cam­pus in North­cote yes­ter­day.

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