More cases of UK strain detected at NZ border

By Te Ao - Māori News

19 cases of the UK variant of Covid-19 have been identified at the New Zealand border since 13 December, the Ministry of Health said in a statement Sunday.

The ministry said one case with the variant first identified in South Africa (501Y.V2) had also been discovered during ESR whole genome sequencing.
"Most of these people have come into New Zealand from the UK, via the UAE, Qatar or Singapore.

"These people are all cared for with the same high level of infection prevention measures as all Covid-19 positive cases, with daily health checks and use of PPE. Infection prevention control protocols are in place for all staff and we can assure the public that there is no increased risk to the community."

The ministry said it will continue to monitor overseas developments "very closely" through the holiday period.

The UK variant was first announced as having reached New Zealand's borders on 3 January when 6 cases of the strain were identified.

According to the ministry, "the UK variant is more transmissible than other variants of the virus but there is no evidence at this stage that the length of the infection period is any different to any other variant of Covid-19, nor is it more likely to produce severe illness."

Earlier this week, one expert told TVNZ's 1 News that if the new Covid-19 variant escaped into the community New Zealand would be straight back to Alert Level 4.

There continue to be no community cases of Covid 19 in New Zealand.

In the ministry's Sunday statement it said there has, however, been 31 border cases since its Thursday update.