New Zealand announced that the country is experiencing its first community spread of COVID-19 since November 2020 after a 56-year-old traveler tested positive on Sunday. The woman returned to New Zealand on December 30 after she traveled to the Netherlands for work. As all travelers are mandated to do, the woman observed her 14 days period of quarantine and took two coronavirus tests which came out negative, the Ministry of Health disclosed.
The test results which came in on January 2 and January 10, gave her the free passage to leave the facility after the mandatory two-week quarantine. According to the ministry’s statement, she started having symptoms of the virus on January 15. The ministry said it is treating her case as a community spread since she has been mingling with people after she left the Auckland quarantine facility.
“We need to carry out more tests, especially a serology blood test, to verify whether her case is a new strain or not,” the health ministry stated. “The preliminary tests we have carried out have shown that it might be a new case, so we are treating it as such until we know otherwise.”
The country’s health officials are working on the possibility that the woman could have been infected in the quarantine facility. It is also possible that she might have been infected by her family members in the Netherlands who have since tested positive for the virus too, Fox News reports.
Authorities said that contact tracing efforts started immediately, and they have been able to reach 15 of her close contacts. Her husband and her hairdresser have tested negative for the virus, and the test results of the other 13 contacts will be available on Monday, according to reports. Her contacts are in quarantine. Officials said the woman had visited about 30 parts of the Northland region of the country since she left the quarantine facility.
The Ministry of Health’s website states that the country has not had a positive case outside of quarantine since November. New Zealand has been very effective in cracking down against the spread of the virus, recording 2,283 cases and 25 Covid-related deaths since the pandemic started, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
New Zealand’s latest crisis is coming in the wake of the discovery of multiple, highly contagious strains of the virus around the world. The South African strain which has been discovered in 20 different countries has been confirmed to be twice as infectious as the original strain of the virus.