Two new community Covid-19 cases, both linked to infected Auckland family - Hipkins

There are two new community cases of Covid-19. 

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Chris Hipkins announced the news before today’s 1pm press release. Source: 1 NEWS

A close contact of the young woman who attends Papatoetoe High School and was one the three original cases is infected, as well as their sibling, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said. 

"That’s obviously new information that’s come to hand," Hipkins told Parliament’s Health Select Committee, adding the case identification process would identify any other relevant information. 

"It’s important to remember these two new cases have a known link to our existing cases. It’s a bit different to the three cases we started with where there was no clear identification of where those cases had come from."

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The new cases are both students at Papatoetoe High School. Source: 1 NEWS

The infections were a brother and sister at Papatoetoe High School. 

These were the only new community Covid-19 cases announced in the Ministry of Health's 1pm update.

However, there was also one new case of the virus in managed isolation.

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Rhonda Nguyen says the school is committed to getting tested to keep the rest of the country safe. Source: Breakfast

In terms of what the new cases meant for this afternoon’s alert level announcement, Hipkins said he could not pre-empt decisions by Cabinet, but there had been a "wave of testing" and were still waiting for some of those results.

Director of Health Ashley Bloomfield, who pulled out of a panel on vaccines this morning, turned up to the select committee to speak about the cases. 

Responding to questions from National's Chris Bishop on the new case investigations, Dr Bloomfield said the siblings were students at Papatoetoe High School. 

"One of them (is) a classmate of the original case, as such was being treated as a close contact, so therefore was isolating as were family members and was tested. 

"Her brother, who also tested positive is categorised as a casual-plus contact because he's a student at the school. In this case, it is most likely the chain of transmission is from the original case to her classmate who has then passed it onto her brother. 

"We will be looking very carefully at whether there are any other positive cases coming out of the high school amongst those causal-plus contacts. 

"So far, two thirds of the high school, over 1000 have been negative which has been encouraging."

Auckland sits at Alert Level 3 until 11.59pm today, while the rest of the country is at Alert Level 2. 

Hipkins also told the Health Select Committee there were 86 test result remaining from the workplace of one of the original Covid-19 cases, 126 results had come back. 

"That will help to inform our decision," he said. 

"We’ve seen this previously before where we’ve managed to contain new cases where we know the source of them."

Today's new managed isolation case arrived in New Zealand from Kazakhstan via the United Arab Emirates on February 14. They tested positive for Covid-19 on arrival in Auckland.

New Zealand's total number of active cases is now 49, which adds to the total of 1984 since the pandemic began.

Yesterday, 17,439 tests for the illness were carried out, adding to a total of 1.61 million.

"Community testing centres in Auckland remain steady today, with no significant wait times reported at any of the ten community testing centres or pop-ups," the Ministry of Health said in a statement.

"We want to thank our Auckland communities for getting tested – since Sunday, more than 20,000 tests have been performed in the community."

Today, there are 10 community testing sites in Auckland, including the pop-up testing centre at Kohuora Park in Papatoetoe.

New Zealand's Covid Tracer app now has 2.63 million registered users.