People in church cluster ‘unaware’ they were spreading Covid-19

By Te Ao - Māori News

Aotearoa has four new cases of Covid-19 today.

Two are community cases linked to the Auckland August cluster and two are imported cases detected at managed isolation facilities.

Of the imported cases, one is a man in his 30s and the other is a woman in her 50s. Both people arrived in New Zealand on a flight from India on August 27. They were in managed isolation in Christchurch and tested positive to day-12 testing. Both cases are now in quarantine.

The two community cases have epidemiological links to existing cases in the bereavement sub-cluster and back to the Mt Roskill Evangelical Fellowship group.

The Ministry of Health today said this sub-cluster was the result of a contact of a case having close contact with other people.  

Unaware of infection

“As far as we can tell they were unaware they had been infected and were incubating and spreading the virus at the time,” a ministry statement said.
 
“This underscores the importance of close contacts following the public health advice they’re given, which includes strict self-isolation even if they don’t have symptoms, and even if they have returned a negative test.”

The ministry said church leaders were actively encouraging all members of the congregation to retest by Friday and to comply with other public health advice such as self-isolation.

As a result of this cooperation, by 8am today, labs had registered new tests for 64% of the congregation (213 of the 332 people).
There are 101 close contacts associated with this sub-cluster. Public Health officials made daily phone calls to close contacts to conduct symptom checks,” the ministry said.

“Teams engaged in these checks are reporting a high degree of compliance.”

Pop-up testing

Auckland Public Health had good testing coverage and had only needed to set up one additional testing site in Mt Roskill at the Mt Roskill War Memorial, which is open from 9am to 4pm.

There were also pop-up testing stations that can move to new locations every couple of days to respond to community need.
 
The school deep clean at St Dominic’s had been completed and testing of all staff and students was well underway.

Many members of the school community had been tested since they were informed of the case on Tuesday afternoon.

Testers had been supplied with a surveillance code for testing of asymptomatic members of the school community so it can keep track of the numbers.

As at 11am today, labs had registered 561 tests against this code. “There will also have been additional tests where the person did not specify they were connected with St Dominic’s,” the ministry said.

Precautionary tests

Staff and students had been provided with access to two dedicated testing centres not open to the general public. This meant they could be tested without long waits and the results could be processed as quickly as possible – tests from these sites were prioritised at laboratories.

The vast majority of students at St Dominic’s were casual contacts, and being tested as a precaution. If these students and staff were well and had no symptoms of Covid-19, they did not need to self-isolate, while waiting for test results.

Close contacts had been advised they need to stay in self-isolation for 14 days, even if their test result was negative.

There are now 72 people linked to the community cluster who remain in the Auckland quarantine facility, which includes 56 people who have tested positive for Covid-19 and their household contacts.

Tracing team

“Since August 11, our contact tracing team has identified 3,372 close contacts of cases, of which 3,354 have been contacted and are self-isolating, and we are in the process of contacting the rest,” the ministry said.

Today there are three people in hospital with Covid-19 – one is in isolation on a ward in North Shore Hospital. Two are in ICU, at North Shore and Waikato hospitals.

With today’s four new cases and nine additional recovered cases, the total number of active cases is 120. Of those, 39 are imported cases in MIQ facilities, and 81 are community cases.

The ministry said it was encouraging to see the number of people registering with, and using the NZ Covid Tracer app to record their movements.

The app has now recorded 2,171,700 registered users, with 49,717,733 poster scans.  There have been 364,812 QR codes created to be displayed around the country.

A NZ Covid Tracer booklet is now also available from the Covid-19 website to help people keep a written record of where they’ve been and who they’ve seen if they can’t download the app.