A 56-year-old woman who recently returned from Europe tested positive 10 days after spending two weeks in isolation.
New Zealand health officials have confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in the community in more than two months, sparking urgent contract-finding efforts north of Auckland.
A 56-year-old woman who recently returned from Europe tested positive 10 days after completing a mandatory two-week period in managed quarantine. She had noticed symptoms several days before getting tested.
Contact tracing was underway after it was revealed that the woman and her husband spent several days traveling the Northland area as she was potentially contagious, visiting around 30 different locations.
Health Minister Chris Hipkins said it was too early to decide whether a full or partial lockdown would be reintroduced.
“We do not know the origin or the strain of the infection,” he said at a press conference on Sunday.
The woman returned to New Zealand on December 30 after spending four months in Europe – mainly Spain and the Netherlands – and was released from a quarantine hotel in Auckland on January 13.
New Zealand’s chief health officer Ashley Bloomfield said the woman returned two negative tests while in isolation and her husband had no symptoms.
This is the first known case of community transmission in New Zealand since November 18.
Authorities were examining CCTV footage to see if the woman had contracted the virus while in the managed quarantine facility.
More than 600 people who had spent time at the hotel have been asked to self-isolate and get tested again for COVID-19.
This is the second time a returnee has developed symptoms of coronavirus after being allowed to leave a quarantine facility in New Zealand.
A man who returned from India in August returned two negative tests in isolation, but did not start showing symptoms until five days after his release.
New Zealand has been widely praised for its handling of the pandemic with just 25 deaths out of 1,927 confirmed cases of the virus in a population of five million.