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High school student close contact of Christchurch Covid-19 case

A high school student is a close contact of the new community case of Covid-19 in Christchurch.

The Canterbury District Health Board sent a letter to Cashmere High School parents on Tuesday confirming the student was a close contact.

The student had tested negative and was isolating at home.

“Students and staff do not need to be tested unless they have symptoms of Covid-19, and they do not need to self-isolate,” it said in the letter.

Covid-19 testing sites are opening up in Christchurch today.

A queue is building at a testing facility near Christchurch airport.

About a dozen are now lined up outside the facility on Orchard Road, with more arriving.

Lanes have been created with road cones to manage traffic.

Three cars were waiting at a drive through testing facility in Wainoni, in the city’s east.

At this stage additional sites have not been set up on top of the existing testing sites in the city.

Covid-19 community case may not go to isolation facility.

A person who has tested positive for Covid-19 may not be put into an isolation facility – which the Prime Minister says is “not unusual”.

She confirmed work was ongoing around the community case, and said the person isolating at home was not an indication that the managed facilities in the Christchurch were at capacity.

The new case is a staff member working in the Christchurch managed isolation facility, understood to be the Sudima Hotel, where a group of international mariners have been staying.

The staffer had been tested on Thursday as part of ongoing screening and returned a negative result.

However they developed “mild” symptoms on Saturday and sought a second test on Sunday.

That second test was positive and authorities were alerted yesterday afternoon.

The person is now self isolating at home while decisions are made around their management.

This morning it was confirmed the person had one close household contact and had visited a supermarket – Countdown on Colombo Street in Sydenham.

Countdown’s general manager corporate affairs, safety and sustainability, Kiri Hannifin, confirmed the person visited the store, but the time of the visit was not known.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said a push alert would go out today alerting anyone who had been at the supermarket in and around the Covid-positive person.

She said it was completely normal for a person to start their isolation period in their own home and denied that they were there as a result of Christchurch facilities being full.

“We always go through a process after a positive test of working through the best place for someone to isolate,” she told TVNZ.

“They will be working with that person to see whether they should be moving into a facility.

“We let the public health workers on the ground work out the best place for the person (with Covid) to be.

“There are a range of circumstances they will take into account to determine where they should be.”

Adern said while “most cases” go into managed isolation facilities there were some who did not.

It was not an indication the facilities in Christchurch had no space.

“Not at all – the case was only identified yesterday afternoon, it’s not unusual for a bit of time to be taken to identify their close contacts, undertake testing that needs to be undertaken and then work through making sure we are putting the person in a facility if that’s the right place for them to be,” she said.

“It’s not unusual.”

A group of Russian and Ukrainian fishermen – many who had tested positive for Covid-19 – had been in managed isolation at the Sudima Hotel and were due to leave today.

A total of 31 positive Covid cases are now linked to the group of mariners.

They are among 440 fishers from Russia and the Ukraine, 270 of whom are due to go out on three Independent Fisheries boats next month.

Fishing company leaders have previously said they’re happy to delay operations for the safety of the community.

They’re paying for their isolation, flights and other costs.

Sealord expects to provide an update after the Ministry of Health’s 1pm announcement.

The latest case in Christchurch ended 10 straight days of no community cases of the virus in New Zealand.

This is the third time Covid-19 has re-emerged in the community.

New Zealand went 102 days without a case until August when an Auckland cluster forced the city into a two-week level-3 lockdown.

Then in October, after 22 days without a new case in the community, a marine engineer tested positive after carrying out work on a ship in Auckland, the Sofrana Surville.

Four cases of Covid-19 were reported in managed isolation on Monday afternoon. One of those an international mariner staying at the Sudima in Christchurch, detected at day 15 testing as a close contact of a day 6 case.

The other three people were a person at an Auckland quarantine facility, who arrived on October 19 from Milan via Singapore and tested positive to routine testing at around day 12.

Another person arrived from London via Singapore on October 28 and tested positive to routine testing at around day 3. They are now in the Auckland quarantine facility.

And the forth case was detected in managed isolation in Auckland, after being given permission to join a family member recently arrived from overseas. The family member has previously been recorded in our positive case totals. Today’s case will be recorded as an import-related case.

Last month Air Commodore Darryn Webb told Newstalk ZB staff at the Sudima Hotel took infection prevention measures including physical distancing, regular and thorough cleaning, PPE use, basic hygiene practices and daily health checks.

He expected the number of positive cases within the fishermen group to increase.

“I think it’s logical to expect that. We knew in the planning that places like Russia are high risk.”

Webb said the processes in place around testing at the border were robust.

“We have an exclusive use facility for these fishermen. Part of the process early on is that we do know they are coming from a high risk area so let’s provide them a single location.”

He said there was a 24-hour delay as the aircraft worked through its process in Moscow and the fishermen were assembled there for 48 hours and then en route for 18 hours.

That period of time provided an opportunity for the virus to spread.

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