Health officials clarify rules around Covid-19 testing and isolation

The Ministry of Health yesterday sought to clarify the rules around who needs to self-isolate, while repeating the message to only be tested for Covid-19 if symptoms appear.

Five more cases of community transmission were announced yesterday, as well as one case from managed isolation. Health officials also said people had been calling Healthline confused about what different groups of people need to do.

Since August 11, the ministry has identified 1983 close contacts of people who have tested positive for Covid-19. Of that number, 1861 of those people had been traced and they are self-isolating - the remainder are in the process of being contacted.

“We are hearing reports of some confusion among people calling Healthline as to what different groups of people need to do, so we are providing clarification on that,” the ministry said in a statement.

Close contacts:
Close contacts are people who have had quite close exposure to a confirmed or probable case of Covid-19 during the case’s infectious period – for example, living in the same household or being within two metres of a case for 15 minutes or more. They are likely to be at a higher risk of being infected through that exposure. The minsitry is asking people who have been identified as a close contact to get a test and stay in self-isolation for 14 days to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19.

Casual contacts:
Casual contacts are people whose exposure to a case was shorter or further away and they don’t meet the criteria for a close contact. They are likely to be at lower risk of being infected following exposure. The ministry is asking people identified as a casual contact to monitor their health for 14 days after exposure and seek advice from their GP or Healthline if they become unwell or develop any symptoms of Covid-19.

The ministry also said people should “only get tested if they are symptomatic, connected to a case or are concerned that they may have come into contact with a case”.

“This will help with our lab capacity right now.”

Yesterday's five new cases in the community were all linked to the recent outbreak in Auckland

There are 125 people from the community who have been moved into the Auckland quarantine facility, which includes 61 people who have tested positive for Covid-19 and their household contacts.