Testing is under way for the close contacts of a newly confirmed Covid-19 case – the mother of the Covid-infected child confirmed in Auckland last week.
That person, who is the mother of the Covid-19 positive toddler who had been at the Pullman along with the child's father, is now in isolation at the Jet Part facility.
But, speaking to media yesterday, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the public health risk as a result of the new case was "very low".
That's because the newly confirmed case – who had previously tested negative – had been self-isolating after her child, and the child's father, tested positive last week.
Hipkins said he was told late yesterday morning that, as a result of "routine testing," the mother had returned a positive result.
He made it clear that this was not another separate Covid-19 case in Auckland. Rather, it was one associated with the already confirmed Auckland pair.
The mother was tested on January 27 and 30 – on the latter date she started to feel "slightly symptomatic", according to Hipkins.
As a result, she was tested again on February 1 and 2; the latter test came back Covid-19 positive.
"This is an example of the testing system operating exactly as it should," Hipkins said.
The mother was already in isolation, given her close contact status with her Covid-19 positive child and the child's father.
"Therefore, the public health risk as a result of this additional positive case is very low," Hipkins said.
He said there were more than 5000 tests processed on Wednesday.
"Another strong figure which helps to provide us reassurance that if there was any community transmission in New Zealand, we will be picking it up."
The mother was tested by a mobile testing unit, which visited her house on February 2.
As she had become symptomatic, officials carried out more tests on her in quick succession.
"This is just a good example of our response, our isolation, our testing and follow up system working," Director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said.
He added that health officials are now in the process of contacting and testing the close contacts of the new case.
However, as some of the close contacts were the same as the child and father's, those people were already in the process of self-isolating.
And Bloomfield said that he could say with a "high degree of certainty" that the Covid-19 positive woman had not left self-isolation since her child, and the child's father, tested positive last week.
"She's been very co-operative," Bloomfield said.
The new case was one of seven reported yesterday, the other six were in managed isolation. Of those six, half were caught during day 1 testing.
Hipkins also yesterday revealed that the first quarter of a million vaccines, which will be in New Zealand by the end of March, will be shipped in separate batches.
"The indications that we've had from Pfizer is that our 226,000 would not all arrive all at once. But they're likely to come in smaller instalments, potentially week after week.
"Our focus is on gearing up and being ready for the first smaller batch as soon as it does arrive."
Also yesterday, Hipkins slightly walked back his previous comments that New Zealand would be at the front of the vaccine queue.
"When I made those comments, I was looking at it in terms of a normal vaccination programme."
But since then, other countries have engaged in an emergency approvals process, given the impact, Covid-19 was having on their population.
Hipkins now said that New Zealand was going to be "among the first countries" to get the vaccine.
Meanwhile, Hipkins said New Zealand Olympians bound for Japan later this year could be pushed to the front of the Covid-19 vaccine queue to get them overseas.
But he said it was quite possible that they would be caught in the nationwide vaccine rollout anyway.