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Childcare centre closed on Stewart Island as 'indeterminate' Covid-19 test result investigated

A child on Stewart Island is under investigation as a potential case of Covid-19 after receiving an indeterminate test result for the virus.

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Dr Bloomfield said it was most likely a false positive, but to provide reassurance, they were carrying out extra testing on the island. Source: 1 NEWS

The Ministry of Health said in a statement this afternoon the child is under investigation but a subsequent repeat test, along with tests from the person’s other family members, have all come back negative.

“The results of serology testing, due later today, will help provide more information as part of the ongoing investigation,” the Ministry of Health said.

“In the meantime, a number of precautionary steps are being taken.”

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the child was tested as part of pre-departure tests taken from the family. 

"It's a bit puzzling," he told media this afternoon.  "Most likely we feel this is a false positive." 

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Testers travelled to the island, which has a population of just over 400, today. Source: 1 NEWS

He says while it's "one possibility" the case is an historical infection from the nationwide lockdown of last year, it's unlikely. 

"Transmission stopped but there are some historical cases we have picked up from people infected at that period. 

"This may be one of those but seems unlikely." 

One of the precautions has seen a local childcare centre close for the rest of the week with possible local contacts asked to isolate until further information is available.

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Bruce Ford told 1 NEWS the child who tested positive, and their family, has since returned a negative result. Source: 1 NEWS

Stewart Island Councillor Bruce Ford told 1 NEWS that news of the possible case has spread across the island. 

"There's no need to panic, there's a good system in place as testing crews were on the first ferry from Bluff at 9.30 this morning." 

He's expecting all of the island's just over 400 residents will get tested.

A Covid-19 testing station set up at the Stewart Island community centre. Source: 1 NEWS

"No doubt the community will jump to attention and get testing done to prove we're all fit and healthy." 

Covid-19 testing is expected to be carried out from today until midday tomorrow, he said. 

Half Moon Bay, Stewart Island (file picture). Source: istock.com

A community testing station has also been set up and will be open from 1pm today at the Community Centre for other members of the very small community.

The Ministry of Health said Public Health staff have so far been unable to identify any likely source of infection and given the relative isolation of the community, currently believe that it is most likely that the child is not a confirmed case.

“Given the isolated nature of the community the DHB is putting additional staff on the ground in Stewart Island today to provide testing, primarily for those in the community with symptoms and for anyone linked to the childcare centre.

“Any local residents seeking testing are expected to be able to be accommodated.”

Results from the additional tests are expected today.

1 NEWS understands that officials are being overly cautious retesting the child. The family have tested negative and the child has tested negative twice. It is thought to be a historic case.