UK Covid-19 variant detected at NZ border

By Te Ao - Māori News

The UK variant of Covid-19 has reached New Zealand shores.

Health authorities announced the news Sunday afternoon.

"The Ministry of Health can confirm that six positive cases of Covid-19 have been found to match the recently identified UK variant of Covid-19," the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said the variant was picked up through whole-genome sequencing.

"The six cases, five of whom travelled from the United Kingdom and one who travelled from South Africa, arrived into New Zealand between 13 and 25 December and underwent routine testing in managed isolation as part of routine surveillance testing or because they developed symptoms."

Once confirmed positive, the cases were transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.

The ministry said four of the cases are now recovered and have left quarantine.

Due to the customary "high level of infection prevention measures" used with all Covid-19 positive cases, the ministry said, "we can assure the public that there is no increased risk to the community."

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, the ministry said.