New Zealand reports first Covid-19 case in two months

A 56-year-old New Zealand woman has tested positive for coronavirus in the community, nine days after receiving a negative test in hotel quarantine.

For the first time in two months, New Zealand has reported a coronavirus case outside of quarantine.

Yesterday afternoon, Covid-19 response Minister Chris Hipkins reported that a 56-year-old woman had tested positive nearly two weeks after returning from a work trip to Spain and the Netherlands.

Jacinda Arden - new zealand covid
Photograph: Getty Images

The woman quarantined for 14 days and tested negative twice before returning home on January 13. Since then, she developed Covid symptoms and tested positive on January 22. Between this time, the patient visited over 30 locations including shopping centres, cafes, restaurants, and tourist attractions.

Luckily, she was using the Covid tracing app, allowing officials to locate and contact anyone who could have been exposed to the virus.

Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield reinforces that if anyone was present at these locations and are experiencing symptoms, they should be tested. “We are asking individuals to stay at home and get a test if they visited these locations during the relevant times and call Healthline,” Bloomfield said.

This is New Zealand’s first community recorded case of Covid since November 18. The country has been ahead of the virus since the beginning of the pandemic, recording only 1,927 cases out of a population of 5 million. Just last Saturday, Queenstown hosted the 11th Annual Gibbston Valley Winery concert with a not-socially-distanced crowd of 10,000 happy Kiwis.

Despite the Covid-positive patient spending the required 14 days in quarantine, her development of symptoms weeks after returning raises concern that overseas travellers are bringing home a stronger variant of the virus.

This also amounts additional pressure on New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden for a vaccine, with authorities aiming to roll out jab by mid-to-late 2021.

Let’s hope that our friendly Covid-free neighbours make it out of this hiccup unscathed.