New Zealand Records First COVID-19 Community Transmission In Over Two Months

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 24th January, 2021) New Zealand recorded its first community case of COVID-19 transmission in over two months after a woman tested positive weeks after leaving managed isolation.

"We received information from the Ministry of Health about a person in the community who has tested positive for COVID-19 after they have left our managed isolation facilities," the minister for COVID-19 Response, Chris Hipkins, said at a news conference Sunday, shared by the New Zealand Herald.

Hipkins said health officials were contact-tracing and undertaking an investigation, adding that it was too early to speculate on what the government's response options may be.

Following Hipkins, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield explained that the 56-year-old woman in question had been traveling in Europe for several months, visiting Spain and the Netherlands before taking a return route via London and Singapore to arrive in Auckland on December 30. She left government-managed 14-day hotel isolation after two negative tests and no symptoms.

The woman visited some 30 locations on the North Island with her husband over the next several days as she began to develop mild symptoms. Four close contacts have been identified, tested and isolated.

"She was extremely assiduous in using the NZ COVID Tracer app, to record QR codes, and this has meant that we have been able to rapidly identify locations where she has been. Our teams are in the process of contacting those places," Bloomfield said at the conference.

All the new COVID-19 cases in New Zealand recorded over December and January have been imported from abroad and identified in government-managed isolation.

The government has booked airport hotels to use as isolation facilities where all entrants remain for two weeks before being allowed into the country. Returnees must then record their whereabouts and respond to regular checkup calls.

New Zealand has been hailed as a beacon of diligent COVID-19 response, keeping the overall count below 2,300 cases and 25 deaths. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made calls to all the families of the COVID-19 fatalities to pass her condolences and apologies.