If there's one thing more chilling about the Covid 19 coronavirus than its contagiousness, it's the capacity to surprise.
This week the Ministry of Health revealed what is now believed to be the true first Covid-19 case in New Zealand.
The case came to light when a man was tested after developing a sore throat. His weak positive result and serology test results indicated an old infection of the virus dated back to February 21, making him the earliest yet recorded occurrence of the virus in New Zealand.
Epidemiologist Michael Baker said the case was the longest he'd heard of to show up in a test after the person had first fallen ill.
"The testing is very sensitive and you can get debris from the original infection, which contains RNA, which is enough to be detected months later," he said. "This person was February, that's the longest I've heard of ... that's really pushing out that maximum duration."
Then this week we had the family who tested positive for Covid-19 after returning to Auckland from managed isolation in Christchurch on September 11. Unfortunately, they visited Taupō for a large gathering a week after leaving isolation, believing they had a clean bill of health.
Despite extending their period of quarantine by self-isolating for four days after being released, the virus was still lurking and ready to break out.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
In light of this, we may need to consider pushing out isolation periods. King's College London research has also revealed Covid antibodies fade away after three weeks, raising the spectre of reinfection and throwing shade on proponents of herd immunity.
Near the beginning of last month, New Zealand director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield described the virus as "tricky". And how. On Friday, the UK Telegraph reported Covid-19 may have mutated to become even more contagious.
The largest genetic study carried out in the US into the virus led to scientists warning it could be adapting to interventions such as mask-wearing and social distancing. One upside to this is that the mutated D614G strain doesn't appear to be more deadly than earlier variants.
Fortunately, there's another thing we have learned during this pandemic. We have the resilience to rise above every surprise this virus has thrown at us.