New Zealand recorded 13 new COVID-19 cases overnight, raising fears the country will be locked down through October.
The Director General for Health, Dr. Ashley Bloomfield said Friday two of the new cases are in Tokoroa – 200 km from the Auckland outbreak.
The Tokoroa cases are linked to a member of the Auckland family who tested positive for the first time this week and triggered the unexpected outbreak after 102 COVID-free days.
All new cases are linked to the existing cluster, with the exception of one case that is in the hospital and is still under investigation.
Two of the new cases on Friday are related to the Americold freezer warehouse, bringing the total to 13 and the Auckland number to 19.
It has prompted health officials to investigate whether the virus spread on frozen shipments.
Five direct cases are workers, while seven other family members are infected workers. The cold store company is waiting for the results for 14 other employees.
Two of the new cases on Friday are related to Americold's freezer warehouse (pictured), prompting health officials to investigate whether the virus has spread on frozen food shipments
New Zealand has 49 active cases, which led to warnings from a top scientist that the nation could remain in lockdown for another seven weeks – early October
The unexpected outbreak of a family of four crashed New Zealand again after 102 days without recording a locally transmitted case of the virus.
New Zealand has 49 active cases, which led to warnings from a top scientist that the nation could remain in lockdown for another seven weeks – early October.
Epidemiologist Michael Baker said it would depend on how far the outbreak has spread and whether a direct link to an overseas case can be established.
“You would expect a longer lockdown to be more likely. The most positive outcome is when contact tracing identifies a unique transmission line from an imported case or from someone working in a managed quarantine, ”Prof. Baker told the NZ Herald.
“If the direct link to imported cases can be made quickly, it will be very helpful, and if the extent of the infection is determined among the contacts. If any of them are infected, the extent of the infection between their contacts is determined and so it continues. & # 39;
Prof. Baker suggested that New Zealand would revert to the situation in March where no cases were recorded after five weeks with level 4 restrictions and then two weeks with level three.
"I don't think anyone imagines that anything will be necessary this time around, but if you take advantage of the extreme possibilities we know from the March experience, it was very effective," he said.
There was early speculation that the virus got on the packaging of frozen food shipments to New Zealand before it infected a family member – a worker at Americold – who unpacked it.
The Chinese health authorities have now announced that traces of coronavirus have been found in frozen chicken wings and on food packaging.
A sample of frozen chicken wings that had come to Shenzhen from Brazil was reportedly contaminated with COVID-19. An epidemiologist has now warned the public to take precautions regarding frozen foods.
The New Zealand cabinet will have a crunch meeting in Wellington on Friday afternoon. Pictured: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
Frozen shrimp from Ecuador sold in Xian also tested positive for coronavirus, according to local authorities, with the virus able to survive cold temperatures.
This means that an infected worker in a frozen food warehouse can spread the virus to ignorant shoppers as the food is distributed to supermarkets across the country.
Americold executive director Richard Winnall told the NZ Herald that the employee at the center of the outbreak was working night shifts, which may have limited the spread.
& # 39; Test results are coming in pretty slowly which is frustrating. We had two more positive Covid results related to this website since yesterday evening and this morning, ”he said.
& # 39; One of those positive results was an Americold employee who employed a total of five Americold employees.
"One was a contract worker who is not a direct employee, but works with us during busy times."
Despite fears that the family member who works in a cold store contracted the virus from imported food, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters suggested that the cluster could be linked to a hotel quarantine violation.
Americold executive director Richard Winnall said the worker at the center of the outbreak was working night shifts, which may have limited the spread
All 600 families and staff at Glamorgan School in Torbay were ordered to self-isolate after a boy tested positive
The unexpected outbreak of a family of four crashed New Zealand again after 102 days without recording a locally transmitted case of the virus. A nurse tests at the test facility in downtown Otara, Auckland
Mr Peters said he had not been officially notified of a violation but expected it to be announced by health officials on Friday.
He said his source was a "very reliable" journalist investigating the outbreak.
"It wasn't an officer, as I found out elsewhere, but I believe there was a breach in our quarantine system," he told ABC on Thursday.
Meanwhile, a school on the north coast of Auckland was closed after a young student tested positive for the virus.
All 600 families and staff at Glamorgan School in Torbay have been instructed to self-isolate.
A six-year-old boy on Auckland's Southern Cross campus also tested positive for coronavirus.
The school board held an emergency meeting on Thursday evening. Two teachers and 28 of the boy's classmates are now in self-isolation.
The New Zealand cabinet will have a crunch meeting in Wellington on Friday afternoon.
Extending a COVID-19 lockdown and possibly delaying the election will be paramount.
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