COVID-19 6th Case – Overseas Link

Media release

14 March 2020

New Zealand’s sixth case of COVID-19 was announced today in an Auckland man in his sixties, after recent travel to the United States. 

The man has been unwell and is now recovering at home – hospital treatment has not been required.  He will recover at home in self isolation and will be monitored daily by health services. 

In this instance, the man returned recently from the United States, where there is local transmission of COVID-19.  It was more than 3 days after he arrived back home before he became unwell and the public health assessment is that no one else on the flight is considered to be a close contact. 

His partner who travelled with him, is well, and currently also in self isolation. 

Once he became unwell, the man did everything right.  When friends in the USA alerted him to their possible link to a COVID-19 case in the USA, on Wednesday he phoned ahead to the GP and told them of his travel history and his symptoms. 

The man was then assessed in his car by his GP, with the GP wearing appropriate protective equipment, and a test swab taken. 

The man, who first started feeling unwell at the beginning of the week, has improved considerably and now reports feeling almost completely recovered. 

Family contacts of the man will be offered testing and contact tracing is now underway in Auckland. 

The man was involved in a church service not long before he became unwell.  As a precaution public health services regard those present mostly as casual contacts but a handful of close contacts at the service are being contacted and put into monitored self-isolation. 

People attending the 8.30am service on Sunday 8 March at St Mary’s church in East St Papakura are now in the process of being contacted.  The majority will be advised that there is no need to be in self isolation but they should contact Healthline or ring ahead to their GP if they become unwell.

New Zealand now has six confirmed cases based on positive test results and two probable cases. The two patients previously in hospital – one confirmed case and one probable case, are now recovering at home with daily checks by health staff.

All 252 close contacts of the five other confirmed cases in self isolation are being monitored daily by health staff. 

The Ministry’s advice for the public remains the same.  Anyone feeling unwell should ring Healthline on the dedicated COVID-19 number: 0800 358 5453 or ring ahead to their General Practice and they'll be advised what to do. 

Healthline continues to be busy but coping with double the usual number of calls and continues to ensure it has the resources to manage. 

Planning is underway for scaling up the country’s ability to contact trace individuals exposed to others with COVID-19.  These measures remain critical to limit the risk of spread. 

The Ministry’s key advice is to not put yourself or others at risk if you are unwell. This means not going to work or going to places where there are other people if you are sick. All of us have a role to play in stopping further spread.  This is critical to New Zealand’s response to COVID-19. 

New Zealand will continue to see isolated cases.   Close contacts of any cases will be contacted, provided with advice and put in monitored self-isolation as recommended by the World Health Organization to limit the risk of spread in the community. 

With regard to concerts and other large gatherings we have coming up, including this weekend the Ministry’s advice is to please stay home if you’re unwell. 

Testing 

  • As at 1 pm, across the laboratories in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin and ESR, we have:
  • 6 confirmed cases
  • 2 probable cases
  • 413 negative tests
  • There remain a number of tests underway today.

Healthline & Self-isolation

  • Healthline continues to manage a larger than usual number of calls and are running at more than double the usual number of calls compared to the same time last year.
  • Healthline continues to scale up to meet demand.  It has trained nearly 150 additional staff to manage calls and brought in more nurses and clinical capacity from the ambulance service and Plunketline. 
  • As of yesterday, there are 3,106 registered (people or households) and currently in isolation 
  • 6,739 have completed isolation.  There have been 10,545 total registrations.

“I want to again thank everyone who has self-isolated - whether that be confirmed cases, close contacts or those who've returned from overseas. Self-isolation remains one of the most important tools in the fight against COVID-19," says Dr Bloomfield.

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