Ministry of Health: “Alert Level one is not Alert Level none” after community case arises

Ministry of Health: “Alert Level one is not Alert Level none” after community case arises

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The Ministry of Health is reminding New Zealanders that “Alert Level one is not Alert Level none” since a new community case emerged at the Port of Taranaki on Sunday.

“This case is another reminder COVID-19 is not going away any time soon, and this is why we have a significant active response,” said the Ministry of Health.

The man is a ports worker and returned a positive test yesterday afternoon. The man was likely to be infections on October 14 and 15.  The man stayed in New Plymouth at two different places, but they have since been deep cleaned.

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The man lives in Auckland but also did work in New Plymouth. He drove to New Plymouth by himself on Tuesday, October 13, which means there is a limited number of close contacts.

On Wednesday (October 14) he did some working at a ship at the port, he then checked into a different accommodation but then decided he’d travel back to Auckland on Wednesday evening and was at home on Thursday (October 15).

The new community case shows how contact tracing systems are working to identify cases. “We have a clear line of investigation as to the source of this person’s infection,” said the Ministry of Health.

The case was caught early, and the risk of any transmission has been ‘quickly contained’.

The Ministry of Health says that the border is an area of risk for more cases of this virus to emerge and that is why they have routine testing and other stringent measures in place, for example, all port workers on and off ship must wear PPE/masks etc.

“This man has been diligent about getting his regular COVID-19 workplace tests, and he has been tested regularly as part of routine border testing. Most recently he returned a negative test result from routine testing at the Ports of Auckland on October 2. On Friday, October 16, the man left work after developing symptoms. He was tested for COVID-19 as soon as he became symptomatic, and that test has returned a positive result,” said the Ministry.

“We are using our rapid contact tracing and testing systems to ensure there are not more cases associated with this man. His close contacts have been asked to isolate or go into the quarantine facility. Because the man was tested so quickly after developing symptoms, we were able to identify and isolate his contacts within the space of a few hours.”

An important lesson for everyone, as the man was tested on the day that he developed symptoms, the Ministry was able to contain the spread of the virus quickly.

“All New Zealanders should remain vigilant for any symptoms of COVID-19, and get a test as soon as you can if you become unwell. Testing quickly means we can reduce the risk of the virus spreading, and that puts us in a good position to put a circle around any outbreak,” said the Ministry of Health.

The man was reported travelling back home in his car alone on Wednesday evening. He did not work at Auckland’s ports on Thursday, but he reported staying home except for going on a trip to get food. The Ministry has prepared notifications to go out via the NZ COVID Tracer app for potential exposure events.

The man went to his workplace on Friday before feeling unwell, one close contact was identified from the man’s work, who is now isolating and has been tested.

The man is now staying at the Auckland quarantine facility. His four household contacts are in isolation and have been tested.

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A note: the man was not at the ports of Auckland while infectious.

The Ministry is now scaling up testing for COVID-19 to help ensure there are no undetected cases in our community. Testing stations will be available at Ports of Auckland and the Port of Taranaki from tomorrow — further encouraging all port workers to have another test for COVID-19.

“This will supplement our regular testing and may mean some individuals are tested earlier than their next scheduled test,” said the Ministry of Health.

“That means staying home if unwell and promptly seeking a test, continuing to use the NZ COVID Tracer App as part of our daily routines, excellent hand hygiene and cough and sneeze etiquette.  The Ministry also continues to recommend using masks on public transport and flights.”

The Ministry says that the most important thing that matters is how good the response is now and in future. 

“We all need to keep playing our part to ensure that we eliminate community transmission of this virus each time we find it,” concluded the Ministry.

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