More than 15,000 people were tested yesterday as officials attempt to find any community transmission spread and the source of the Auckland family’s infections.
The Auckland Covid-positive family is still in quarantine.
Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said the investigation into the source of their infection was still ongoing and it was important not to jump to any conclusions.
Of the more than 15,000 swabs taken yesterday, more than 5800 tests were processed. The results of the remainder will continue to be processed over today.
Bloomfield thanked all those involved in the surge in testing – including staff at sites and GPs.
Bloomfield also formally included the death from Covid-19 at the weekend, bringing the official death toll to 26 since the start of the pandemic.
This morning another close contact of the Covid-positive Auckland family has tested negative – bringing to 12 the number of close contacts who have tested negative.
In total there are 42 people considered to be close contacts across the woman’s work and the daughter’s teachers and fellow students at Papatoetoe High School.
Bloomfield told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking that if all of the close contacts came back negative “that would reduce the likelihood” Covid-19 was widespread in the community.
“We’re not done, what we are is reassured that there hasn’t been any onward transmission from our current cases.
“The other thing we’re really looking for – because we’re not sure exactly where this infection has come from – is are there any parallel sort of chains of infection or chains of transmission out there in the community.
“So the wider testing in the school, and in the workplace and the community, and in particular those places of interest is what we’re really looking at as well.”
Although long queues were reported at testing sites, Papatoetoe’s suburban streets seemed largely deserted this morning, with hardly any vehicle or foot traffic.
Papatoetoe High School – where one of the cases is a student – said the queue for the testing station on schoolgrounds had been busy all morning.
Some businesses around Papatoetoe resembled those of last year’s nationwide level 4 lockdown.
At a local BP station, staff remotely controlled the door and people had to wait outside before being let in.
Only limited numbers of people were allowed in, staff wore masks, and physical distancing was being encouraged.
Separately, seven of nine close colleagues of the mother – who works at airline food and laundry provider LSG Sky Chefs – have returned negative tests so far.
The mother is considered the most likely of the three family members to have contracted the virus first although that has yet to be confirmed.
Bloomfield said officials were keeping an open mind about the source of the infection because the daughter developed symptoms before the mother.
“The important thing about a source is keeping an open mind and not to jump to conclusions, just because the mother works around the airport precinct is not to say ‘oh that’s where it’s come from’. One of the interesting things here is that the daughter reported onset of symptoms before the mother. So we have to be open-minded that she could be the first case, and could have got it somewhere else. And that’s what we’re trying to track down.”
Onward spread and whether the source of the infection has been found – or narrowed – would be the key things Bloomfield will be looking at when he writes his advice for Cabinet tomorrow on alert levels. “By the end of the day we’ll certainly have a lot more information.”