Covid 19 coronavirus: PM Jacinda Ardern vows to leave ‘no stone unturned’ in Covid investigation; vaccines arrived today

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed to leave “no stone unturned” in the hunt for the source of the Valentine’s Day Covid-19 outbreak.

Ardern said officials were “making good progress” in the investigation but work was still under way and the current alert levels will remain in place.

Ardern and director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield are giving an update on the three Valentine’s Day cases, all of which are within one family.

Reports from Auckland suggest the transition to alert level 3 has gone “reasonably well”, says Ardern, with less people on public transport and out and about.

At 1.30pm today, 6861 workers received travel exemptions and more are being processed, the PM said. There is an average of 35 seconds wait time on the call line.

She confirmed the first batch of the Pfizer vaccine arrived in the country about 9.30am on a flight – the first batch is 60,000 doses or 30,000 courses.

She said vaccines would continue to arrive in small batches.

The doses will now undergo quality assurance testing and everything is still on track for frontline border workers to start being vaccinated from Saturday.

Ardern wanted to remind New Zealanders the Government had ordered enough for everyone.

“We are very pleased to have reached a milestone today.”

The Government had already prepared a scenario that the vaccines would arrive from today.

“We are on track to start on Saturday,” said Bloomfield.

“It’s an encouraging start,” said Bloomfield about the fact there had been no new community cases announced today – but the key would be the test results from the community and school which will be processed tomorrow.

The UK varient that the family have is “highly transmissible and a fast-moving chain” which requires fast action, said Ardern.It still has not been linked to a known case in MIQ.

Bloomfield said the days ahead would be crucial as the test results from the community surveillance in Auckland and Taranaki come through.

Serology testing has come back negative which confirms all three are active cases.

Testing and serology are happening on “Case B” – the mother – and there is “significant testing” happening at Papatoetoe High School.

There are 42 close contacts outside of the household, including some teachers and students – none have yet returned positive test results and the rest are still being processed.

Bloomfield said there had been a “good response” to testing in Auckland and Taranaki and repeated it was important only the “right people” were being tested.

The level changes will help stamp out any chains of transmission, said Bloomfield, and he thanked Kiwis and businesses for adhering to them.

Preparation for the vaccine roll-out is underway, including dry runs and establishing vaccination sites.

A number of vaccinators have completed the two-hour training module to administer the Pfizer vaccine.

Bloomfield reminded Kiwis the Pfizer vaccine was two doses about three weeks apart and it was important to get both.

“Covid-19 can feel like a roller-coaster that you haven’t actually bought a ticket for,” said Bloomfield.

There were no new confirmed cases in the community at 1pm today.

At the weekend, after the three people tested positive for Covid-19, Auckland was plunged back into alert level 3 and the rest of the country moved to alert level 2.

The family have been moved to the Auckland quarantine facility while a fourth member of the household has tested negative and is isolating at home.

The level change is in place for 72 hours while officials attempt to find the chain of transmission – and any other possible chains of transmission in the community.

Genomic testing results last night confirmed the family, from South Auckland, was infected with the highly infectious UK variant.

It was not linked to any current or former returnee in MIQ.

One of the working theories is that the mother caught it at her workplace – LSG Sky Chefs – where she handles laundry from international flights.

The woman and her colleagues were tested regularly because of their work but were all tested again in light of the outbreak.

Anyone connected to Papatoetoe High School – where the daughter goes to school – is being asked to stay home and isolate until they get information from the school.

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