Covid 19 coronavirus: Eight cases in managed isolation, NZ border set to re-open in trial run

There are eight new Covid cases to report today in managed isolation.

The latest cases are travellers from Malaysia, India, Japan and the United Kingdom.

There are currently 43 active cases of Covid in New Zealand.

There is one historical case to report today. The traveller arrived on August 9 from Serbia via United Arab Emirates. The person tested positive during a routine day 12 test and are currently in a quarantine facility in Christchurch.

The Ministry of Health todayconfirmed that 73 people went onboard the Rio De La Plata ship in Tauranga between last Wednesday and Saturday. This wasone more than previously reported.

The ministry said this person had now been tested and returned a negative result.

All workers at the Port of Tauranga, who were associated in some way with the container ship had now returned at least one negative test.

Additional testing had been required for a number of port workers. All were negative apart from three results still pending.

One of the three pending results was from a port worker who worked for longer than previously thought, said the ministry. That person was being tested again.

Wastewater testing had been carried out in Tauranga and Mt Maunganui. Two 24-hour samples collected on Monday andTuesdaythis week did not detect thevirus. Additional samples were collected yesterday with results expected tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the Mattina container ship remains in quarantine in Bluff.

As of thismorning, 13 of the original 21 mariners remained on-board the vessel.

Today’s case numbers come as the Government today outlined how the country should navigate the next chapter in the global pandemic.

Earlier today Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a plan to start re-opening the border from next year, starting with a trial this year of self-isolation for vaccinated New Zealanders arriving back into the country.

That would be followed by the phased resumption of quarantine-free travel in the future.

The plan would eventually see three “pathways of travel” into New Zealand.

For vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries, isolation would not be required while those from medium-risk countries, some isolation would be requiredbut it could be a shorter stay in MIQ or home isolation.

A pilot would run between October and December to trial the proposal.

Earlier this week an expert advisory group issued a report headed by Sir David Skegg advising the borders to re-open next year after the vaccine rollout finished, but with questions around maintaining the virus elimination strategy.

The group’s advice paints a sobering picture of an uncertain future in a world still gripped by Covid-19, where overseas travel is limited to the fully vaccinated and herd immunity is unattainable, making public health measures an important part of the elimination puzzle as border restrictions are eased.

Former NZ Prime Minister Sir John Key said the Government should adopt a telethon-style approach to boost vaccination numbers and open up our borders by Christmas.

Key told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking this morning that, rather than aiming for elimination, the focus should switch to relaxing travel bans and getting everyone a double jab in the coming months.

Meanwhile two pilots are on 14 day quarantine after coming into contact with the crew of Rio De La Plata.

Eleven crew members on board the container ship that berthed at Tauranga last week tested positive for Covid.

While the pilots have tested negative health officials have determined they need to be in quarantine.

A total of 72 port workers have been identified as contacts with 70identified as requiring a day three test after their potential exposure. All but six had returned a negative test with results pending for the remaining half dozen.

The Health Ministry said local Tauranga public health staff would be providing individual advice to the border workers on when they could return to work, with the majority cleared for work.

Genome sequencing confirmed eight of the crew were infected with the highly-contagious Delta variant.

Yesterday the ministry said all workers at the Port of Tauranga who were associated in some way to the container ship had returned at least one negative test.

Sequencing results linked the seamen’s infections to a Queensland pilot, who became infectious after being on board the ship.

ESR’s assessment was that the pilot was likely infected from the ship and consistent with Australia’s working hypothesis of the source of infection of the Queensland pilot.

All crew aboard the ship remained asymptomatic and the vessel had now left New Zealand waters, headed for Malaysia.

Health officials continued to ask port workers, their close contacts and the Tauranga community to remain vigilant for Covid-19 like illness and follow all health advice.

The ministry was now reviewing the incident response and would be providing an initial update to the minister early next week on lessons and improvements.

In addition, a fuller review process would also incorporate the three other recent incidents involving infected crew on the Playa Zahara, the Viking Bay and the Mattina.


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