3 new cases of COVID-19 at the border and an update on border-related cases in Auckland

Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health

Whole genome sequencing carried out overnight has confirmed the two border-related COVID-19 cases that were reported out of cycle last night are observed to be variant 20C/501Y.V2 (lineage B.1.351), first identified in South Africa.

From the information we currently have, it appears these cases have a link to the managed isolation facility at the Pullman Hotel however further investigation is currently underway to confirm how close the lineage of these cases is to the previously reported case in Northland.

The two latest cases have now been transferred to a quarantine facility in Auckland, separate from the Pullman. A third family member, who has returned negative COVID-19 tests, is currently isolating at home.

Eight locations of interest have been identified in relation to the two latest cases and are listed on our website. From information available so far, we have identified 11 close contacts – all of whom are isolating and have had their first test. Five results have come back negative, and the results of the remainder are still to come back.

Investigations will continue today into the latest two cases, including further interviews with contact tracing staff. As a result, a potential increase in the number of locations of interest, close and casual plus contacts is not unexpected.

Locations of interest

From the information we have to date, we know the risk of transmission from any particular location of interest is low.

The public health advice to businesses is that all the staff on-site at the same time as the case should get tested and self-isolate until they receive a negative test result.

Further advice on cleaning of businesses is available on the Ministry website.

Testing in the community

Two new pop up testing stations have been opened north of Auckland to manage the expected demand in testing over the coming days.

The pop up testing centres are in Orewa and Albany and are in addition to the six regional community testing centres and a number of other primary care clinics offering testing.

We anticipate the potential for some delays at the some of the sites, which is why extra staff from other sites south of Auckland have been transferred to the North Shore to help out, while public health staff will be walking through any queued cars, carrying out welfare checks, and ensuring people waiting are looked after.

Further details are available on the Auckland Regional Public Health Service website.

In the first few hours, almost 600 people had been tested at the two pop-up sites.

In Northland, testing numbers have remained high but manageable. Since 24 January, a total of 3,479 tests have been carried out in Northland.

On Wednesday, a total of 8,306 tests were processed nationally.  

The seven-day rolling average for testing up to yesterday is 5,176 tests processed.

Update on Northland case 

As previously reported, the Northland case is now considered recovered.

More than 600 people have now been identified as casual plus contacts as a result of either using a QR code or contacting Healthline. Of that number more than 450 have returned a negative test. We are continuing to monitor the remaining people to ensure tests are taken. We are aware these numbers may continue to change daily.

Case numbers

In addition to the previously reported cases last night, there are 4 new border cases of COVID-19 – all have been transferred to a quarantine facility.

New border case details 

Arrival date 

From 

Via 

Positive test day/reason 

Managed isolation/quarantine location 

23 January

United Kingdom

United Arab Emirates

Day 3 / routine

 Auckland

24 January

Japan

Direct flight

Day 2 / routine and contact of a case

Auckland

24 January

Japan

Direct flight

Day 2 / routine and contact of a case

Auckland

Four previously reported cases have now recovered. The total number of active cases in New Zealand is 69.  Our total number of confirmed cases is 1,943.

NZ COVID Tracer

NZ COVID Tracer now has 2,514,708 registered users.

The total number of poster scans is now 162,282,854.

Users have created a total of 6,658,969 manual diary entries.

“We’re currently seeing a healthy increase every day in scanning. Your efforts to scan in are helping New Zealand’s response to COVID-19.

It’s incredibly important that people keep a record of where they’ve been. It can help support contact tracers in tracing potential close and casual contacts of people who have tested positive for COVID-19.

“We recommend people continue to scan NZ COVID Tracer app. The more we all scan, the safer we’ll all be. The data is stored on your phone until you choose to share it.

“The use of the app – through QR code scanning, recording manual diary entries, and Bluetooth – is just one of the tools available to support contact tracing. It’s not the only one.  It’s important the COVID Tracer app is viewed in the wider context of New Zealand’s elimination strategy,” says Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

Media contact

Blair Cunningham
021 195 3978

Health Quality & Safety Commission e-digest – Issue 126 online now

Health Quality & Safety Commission e-digest – Issue 126 online now

Source: Health Quality and Safety Commission

Ngā ihirangi | In this issue

Whakapai i te kounga te haumaru | Quality and safety improvement
  • Alwena & Jim’s story
  • Australasian Institute of Clinical Governance NZ facilitator faculty – expression of interest
Whakaheke mōrearea | Reducing harm
  • Felicity’s story: shared goals of care
  • Major trauma rehabilitation quality improvement programme: National collaborative 2021 guidelines and application form
Pūrongo me te whakamārama | Reporting and commentary
  • Health Quality & Safety Commission annual report 2019/20
  • Patients call for same-day appointments and online access to information
Mahi ngātahi me mātou | Work with us
  • Senior project manager, trauma (closes 5pm, Tuesday 9 February 2021).
Ngā hui huhua | Events
  • Quality improvement scientific symposium virtual sessions
  • PMMRC webinar: Doing things differently
  • Open Forum: Resilient health care – embracing the future
  • Consumer Health Forum Summit 2021: Shifting Gears
  • Adverse event review workshops
  • International Forum on Quality & Safety in Healthcare
  • AICG patient safety and quality care symposium

Last updated 28/01/2021

Related Resources

Hand hygiene coordinators share success stories at recent webinar

Health Quality & Safety Commission e-digest – Issue 126 online now

Source: Health Quality and Safety Commission

At a recent webinar held by the Health Quality & Safety Commission, hand hygiene coordinators shared initiatives that have worked in their district health boards (DHBs) since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commission spokesperson Nikki Grae says common themes included:

  • having the right support from senior leadership so that hand hygiene champions have authority within their areas to address best practice
  • having hand sanitiser available in non-clinical areas, which is new for some DHBs
  • good internal communication reminding staff that hand hygiene is ‘not just about COVID-19’.

Following on from the webinar, participants were surveyed, and results showed auditing in operating theatres is the special interest area most hand hygiene coordinators would like the Commission to focus on. Discussions with infection prevention and control stakeholders about what other areas should be focused on are scheduled, and a working group will help progress the most pressing quality improvement initiatives.

If you have any questions or would like to be involved, please email: HHNZ@hqsc.govt.nz.

Last updated 28/01/2021

Australasian Institute of Clinical Governance NZ facilitator faculty – expression of interest

Health Quality & Safety Commission e-digest – Issue 126 online now

Source: Health Quality and Safety Commission

We are excited to announce that an expression of interest is open for individuals to join the Australasian Institute of Clinical Governance (AICG) New Zealand facilitator faculty.

In November 2020, the Health Quality & Safety Commission and AICG announced a partnership to enhance quality and safety capability in the health care system through workforce capability building. The partnership included offering sponsored places in the AICG Certificate in Clinical Governance course and standalone workshops.

The next step is building a New Zealand-based AICG facilitator faculty, who will be trained by the AICG, to deliver AICG workshops (in training rooms or online), take part in evaluation of these sessions and be involved in the review and development of courses.

It’s an exciting time to be collaborating with AICG and developing a cross-Tasman education team. The expression of interest information and facilitator selection criteria can be found on the AICG website.

For more information about the expression of interest, contact Dr Louise McCall by phone (+61 417 150 751) or email (lmccall@heal.edu.au).

Key dates:

  • Expression of interest opens Thursday 28 January 2021
  • Expression of interest closes Monday 15 February 2021
  • Applicants notified Friday 26 February 2021
  • Facilitator recruitment process commences March, April 2021

To apply, please forward a covering letter, CV and responses to the selection criteria to:

Dr Louise McCall
AICG director of education
Email: lmccall@heal.edu.au.

Last updated 28/01/2021

2 border-related COVID-19 cases confirmed

Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health

Two people who completed their managed isolation in the same facility and at the same time as the Northland case are now being treated as confirmed COVID-19 infections.

“While we still can’t categorically rule these out as historical infections, test results so far indicate the two people may have contracted COVID-19 towards the end of their stay in managed isolation, after returning two negative tests each during their stay”, said Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

“It’s too early to early to make a firm conclusion. Genome sequencing results, which are expected tomorrow, and serology results expected the following day, will help develop the picture further.”

However, out of an abundance of caution we are now responding as if these are confirmed current infections.

Locations of interest

The Ministry of Health website has a list of exposure events which include a location, date and time. Contact tracing locations of interest.

People who have visited those locations during the time period, and as ever, anyone in Auckland with symptoms, are asked to isolate and call Healthline to arrange a test and remain isolated until they receive their result.

“It’s important the right people isolate and get tested, so we don’t overwhelm testing centres,” said Dr Bloomfield.

“We understand that many will be anxious, but it’s important to remember we are carrying out these measures as a precaution. There is no evidence so far that suggests community transmission — but we need the right people to isolate and get tested.”

This will come as news to some locations of interest as we move quickly to respond and we thank them for their understanding and cooperation.

The two former returnees were initially classified as under investigation after returning positive tests and pending further investigation to determine if the infections were recent or historical. They returned a second positive test with a higher CT value which led to them being treated as confirmed cases.

A third person in the family’s bubble has tested negative. The two family members who tested positive are in the process of being moved to Auckland’s quarantine facility.

The two positive cases completed quarantine on 15 January and have been residing in North Auckland since.

Further interviews are being carried out to determine the family’s detailed movements since they left managed isolation to identify close and casual contacts.  

A number of steps have already been put in place at the Pullman hotel including:

  • a deep clean of commonly used areas
  • tighter restrictions on movement of returnees including no arrivals or departures
  • increasing hotel ventilation
  • requesting returnees who’ve recently left, to not fly, to stay home and have an additional test within 48 hours
  • restricting staff from working at other sites
  • tighter restrictions on movement of returnees including no arrivals or departures from the facility.

Testing centres

A number of walk-in / drive-thru community testing centres will be open in Auckland — some with extended hours. These can be found on the ARPHS website https://www.arphs.health.nz/public-health-topics/covid-19/where-to-get-tested/ and Healthline will have this information too.

The website also includes extra pop-up community testing centres, targeted to North Auckland.

Public health advice

In addition, Aucklanders and people travelling to the city should follow key public health advice: wash your hands; use a mask on public transport; use the NZ Covid Tracer App; if you develop symptoms, isolate and seek advice from Healthline about getting tested.

Media contact
Peter Abernethy
021 366 111

Two further returnees under investigation

Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health

Two other former returnees who completed their managed isolation in the same facility and at the same time as the Northland case are now under investigation.

The two former returnees both returned a positive test for COVID-19, however it is yet to be confirmed if they are recent or historic infections.  Further urgent testing is being carried out this evening.

The two people are asymptomatic and have already completed their managed isolation and previously returned two negative tests.

Both individuals are currently self-isolating at home.

As a precaution, Public Health staff are checking details with the individuals about their movements since they left managed isolation to identify close and casual contacts if contact tracing is required.

Media contact
Peter Abernethy
021 366 111

4 new cases of COVID-19 in managed isolation; 1 historical case

Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health

There are 4 new cases of COVID-19 in managed isolation and one historical case to report in New Zealand since our last media statement yesterday.

There have been no new cases in the community to report.

New border case details 

New border case details

Arrival date 

From 

Via 

 

Managed isolation/quarantine location 

16 January

India 

United Arab Emirates 

Day 10/routine 

Auckland

22 January

Philippines

Hong Kong 

Day 3/routine 

Auckland 

24 January 

United States 

Direct flight 

Day 0/routine 

Auckland 

24 January 

United States 

Direct flight 

Day 0/routine 

Auckland

One previously reported case has now recovered. The total number of active cases in New Zealand is 68.  Our total number of confirmed cases is 1,938.

On Tuesday, a total of 10,812 tests were processed. Almost three quarters of these – 8,055 – were taken from across Northland and Auckland.

“It’s encouraging to see testing numbers remain high and it’s also good to see the majority of these tests were taken from the focus of the latest response – Northland and Auckland,” says Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield.

“Yesterday’s number means we have now processed more than 1.5 million tests (1,504,309) which is incredibly positive and I want to thank everyone who’s either taken a test or has helped to take the test or process it – your efforts in helping to keep COVID-19 out of the community are greatly appreciated.”

The seven-day rolling average for testing up to yesterday is 4,569 tests processed.

Update on Northland case

All potential close contacts of the previously reported Northland case have now returned negative test results.

The local public health unit has reviewed the status of a number of potential close contacts and has reclassified them as casual plus contacts.

A total of 212 staff from the managed isolation facility at Pullman Hotel have been tested, along with 192 guests currently in the facility. The vast majority of the test results received so far are negative, we are awaiting a small number of results. We’ll be able to give an updated number when available.

Of the 353 people who departed the managed isolation facility between 9 and 24 January, 255 people have returned negative tests.

Contact tracing staff are continuing to follow up with the remaining 98 recently departed guests to ensure they have their test. Today’s number of 353 differs from yesterday’s 357 as since then three people have left the country and since ben referred to their own health authorities while another record has been deleted as it was a double up.

327 people received a push notification as a result of having scanned into one of 31 locations of interest.

Testing in the community

Testing numbers in Northland remain high – yesterday 983 tests were taken around the region.

Testing staff in Northland inform us that yesterday’s rush on community testing centres had eased by early afternoon and we want to extend our thanks to people for recognising the importance of getting a test and when.

A reminder that if you were not at a location of interest at the stated times and you have no symptoms you do not need to be tested.

If you were at the locations of interest at the times stated, you need to get a test, and remain isolated until you receive the result.

If you have symptoms but have not been to a location of interest stay home and call Healthline for advice.

Testing centres around Northland remain open and free today for people who need a test. Nine community based testing centres remain open, while another is available for testing on request. Further details can be found here: COVID-19 Testing in Northland

NZ COVID Tracer

NZ COVID Tracer now has 2,505,796 registered users.

The total number of poster scans is now 161,180,179.

Users have created a total of 6,594,817 manual diary entries.

“Please remember to keep up the momentum and scan, scan, scan. Scanning in has made it so much easier for contact tracing staff to very quickly trace the movements of close and casual plus contacts…this is exactly the kind of response we need to break the chain of transmission of COVID-19,” says Dr Bloomfield.

Media contact

Blair Cunningham
021 195 3978

2 cases of COVID-19 in managed isolation; update on Northland case

Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health

There are 2 cases of COVID-19 in managed isolation to report in New Zealand since our last media statement yesterday.

There have been no new cases in the community to report.

New border case details

Arrival date

From

Via

Positive test day/reason

Managed isolation/quarantine location

24 Jan

Japan

Direct flight

Day 0/routine testing

Auckland

24 Jan

Portugal

United Arab Emirates and Malaysia

Day 0/routine testing

Auckland

Update on Northland case

Sixteen people have been identified as potential close contacts of the previously reported case in Northland. Of those, 15 people have returned negative tests, including a household contact of the case.

An additional close contact is awaiting their test result. A total of 157 staff from the managed isolation facility at Pullman Hotel have been tested, along with 192 guests currently in the facility. Of those, 30 still have test results to come, and all others have returned negative results.

Contact tracing staff are following up with 357 people who departed  the managed isolation facility between 9 and 24 January. Of that number, 325 have been contacted, are isolation and have been or are being tested. The remaining former guests are being followed up today.

187 people received a push notification as a result of having scanned into one of 31 locations of interest. A further location was added yesterday and is on the Ministry’s website. At this time 154 people have been identified as ‘casual plus’ contacts, as a result of either the push notification or after speaking with Healthline following media publicity. These people are being tested and are isolating until they receive their result.

The source investigation into how the Northland case was infected continues today at the managed isolation facility. This includes reviewing CCTV footage at the facility and looking at whether the infection may have occurred from person-to-person or surface transmission, or airborne transmission, including possibly the ventilation system.

We’d like to take this opportunity to again thank the tireless efforts of all staff working in managed isolation and quarantine facilities around New Zealand. Your frontline efforts to help break the chain of transmission of COVID-19 and keep New Zealanders safe and healthy are truly appreciated.

Definition of a contact

There have been a number of calls over the past two days to Healthline from people wanting clarification between close and casual plus contact

A close contact is someone who’s more likely to be at higher risk of being infected because they spent time in close proximity to a confirmed case during the case’s infectious period.

A casual or casual plus contact is someone who has had only limited exposure to a confirmed case, usually by being in the same location of interest either at the same time or soon after a confirmed case.

Testing in the community

Yesterday more than 1500 people were tested at community testing centres around the region.

Northland DHB informs us that the rate of testing per 1,000 people was greater for Mâori than any other ethnicity in Northland.

The high demand at our COVID-19 testing sites may mean delays, and our request is to please be patient. Extra staff from Counties Manukau and a number of volunteers are working at sites around the Northland region to support the testing centres. Frontline staff are working hard to ensure everyone who needs to be tested gets a test as soon as possible.

There is capacity to test everyone, who needs a test– but we need your help to get testing running quickly and easily.

  • If you were not at a location of interest at the stated times and you have no symptoms you do not need to be tested.
  • If you were at the locations of interest at the times stated, you need to get a test, and remain isolated until you receive the result.

If you have symptoms but have not been to a location of interest stay home and call Healthline for advice.

Testing centres around Northland remain open and free today for people who need a test. Nine community based testing centres have been operating since Sunday afternoon.

Find more information about these locations

Please note, one location has changed – the Ruakaka testing centre has moved to the racecourse on Peter Snell Road.

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service has a full list of community testing centres throughout the region

For anyone that has not been to a location of interest but is concerned, contact Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or call your GP to see if you need to have a test. Please remember to stay home if you are unwell, maintain stringent hygiene practices, including washing and drying your hands, and cough or sneeze into your elbow.

Update on variants detected in New Zealand

As announced yesterday by the Ministry, whole genome sequencing results for the Northland woman has confirmed that she has contracted the B.1.351 variant, first identified in South Africa.

Whole genome sequencing has identified a total of 9 samples of B.1.351, first identified in South Africa and 35 samples of the B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, since 13 December, as well as a number of other previously identified strains.

The lineages are all consistent with overseas exposure.

All positive COVID-19 tests in New Zealand are sent to ESR to attempt whole genome sequencing as part of ongoing surveillance.

We are also continuing to monitor advice from the World Health Organization on this variant. Currently there’s limited epidemiological data available on the B.1.3.5.1 variant. What we know so far is that it may be more transmissible. There are no indications to date for any differences in disease severity or incubation times and some evidence it might evades some of the antibodies in the bodies immune response.  

New forms, or variants, of the virus have become increasingly common around the world – and we have expected to see them here in New Zealand. This has been the case in our managed isolation and quarantine facilities.

Case numbers

As mentioned above, there are two cases of COVID-19 in managed isolation to report in New Zealand since our last media statement yesterday.

One previously reported case has now recovered. The total number of active cases in New Zealand is 65.  Our total number of confirmed cases is 1,934.

The total number of tests processed by laboratories to date is 1,493,495.

On Monday, a total of 3,582 tests were processed. The seven-day rolling average up to yesterday is 3,660 tests processed.

NZ COVID Tracer

NZ COVID Tracer now has 2,496,000 registered users. More than 20 thousand people registered with the app between 1PM yesterday and 10 o’clock this morning.

An additional 693,903 post scans have been recorded in the same period, bringing the total scans to 160,090,202.

Users have created a total of 6,541,813 manual diary entries

Understandably, there has been an increase in registered users, Bluetooth users and scans since Sunday and we’d like to take the opportunity to thank New Zealanders who’re helping break the chain of transmission.

Using Bluetooth and scanning together keeps a private digital diary of where you have been and who you have been near and means you will receive instant notifications about possible exposure to COVID-19. To enable Bluetooth on the app, you need to turn it on within the app, rather than just on your phone in general settings.

Please remember to keep up the momentum and scan, scan, scan.

Media contact

Blair Cunningham
021 195 3978

JCCs Round One

JCCs Round One

Source: Association of Salaried Medical Specialists

The first round of JCCs gets underway later this month. We had some lively and well attended meetings last year and it would be great to see as many of you as possible this year. You can find the dates and times for your DHBs here. Zoom will continue to be an option at all of the JCCs. You can also sign up for JCC invites and updates by writing to asms@asms.org.nz.

A key focus of the first round of meetings will be our Building the workforce pipeline, stopping the drain report which, if you haven’t read it, you can see here. We hope it will provoke some interesting discussions around specialist shortages, recruitment and retention and work flexibility.

Vaping regulations consultation opens today

Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health

The Ministry of Health is encouraging New Zealanders to have their say and provide feedback on draft regulations under the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act through an online consultation that opens today.

An amendment to the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990 (the Act) commenced on 11 November 2020. 

“The amendment means that vaping products are now controlled in a similar way to tobacco products,” Jane Chambers, Group Manager, at the Ministry of Health said.

“However, new regulations are required to fully deliver the changes sought by the Government and to support the right settings for the legislation.

“We’re seeking public feedback on the draft regulations because if we want to get it right, it’s important everyone has a chance to have their say. Feedback will help shape the final regulations.

“The proposed regulations cover a range of areas including the display of vaping products in retail stores and websites; the use of harm reduction statements in retail stores and websites; the display of R18 notices at vaping points of sale; packaging requirements for vaping products; and the responsibilities of manufacturers and importers who intend to sell vaping products or smokeless tobacco products.

“I encourage people to read the draft regulations and provide feedback using the online tool or download the feedback form and email it to [email protected].

“This consultation is an important step towards better supporting smokers to switch to regulated products that are less harmful than smoking and to protect children, young people and non-smokers from the risks associated with vaping and smokeless tobacco products,” Chambers said.

The consultation closes at 5pm on 15 March 2021. The final regulations will be notified in due course and it is expected they will take effect in August 2021, with anonymised submissions published on the Ministry of Health website.


Media contact

Lucy Hall
021 598 485