New Zealand Records First CCP Virus Case in Months
A 56-year old woman has become the centre of a new CCP virus scare for New Zealand, contracting the highly transmissible South African variant of the virus and becoming the country’s first locally transmitted case in over two months.
It is believed she became infected while in hotel quarantine, as she recently returned from overseas travel and completed two weeks of managed isolation in the Pullman Hotel in Auckland.
“Contact tracing has now found the woman has 15 close contacts … all have been contacted by health officials, are self-isolating, and have been tested,” the Ministry of Health confirmed in a media statement on Jan. 25.
Of the 15 close contacts, two have returned negative test results, but the woman had been quite active in her local city of Whangerei in the Northland region of the North Island.
Currently, 30 locations, including supermarkets, clothing, and electronic stores, cafes, restaurants, a gallery, plant centre, museum, pharmacy, vehicle testing station, and a tavern have been identified as potential infection sites, and people who have attended the locations are being asked to isolate and get tested.
The woman had tested negative twice before leaving the hotel on Jan. 13, the SMH reported. A few days later, she developed muscle aches but no respiratory symptoms. On Jan. 23, she tested positive for the virus.
“Our current advice is that although there is a low risk of exposure, out of an abundance of caution, we are asking individuals to stay at home and get a test if they visited these locations during the relevant times and call Healthline. You will need to continue to stay at home until you receive a negative test result back,” the Ministry of Health said.
New Zealand’s last case of community transmission was on Nov. 18, 2020.
The South Africa variant reportedly carries a mutation known as E484K. Scientists have suggested that this variant of the CCP virus, known as B.1.351, and the United Kingdom(UK) variant, are more transmissible.
Both variants are associated with a higher viral load, meaning a greater concentration of virus particles in patients’ bodies, possibly contributing to increased transmission.
There have also been suggestions that the variants may be more severe with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnston saying on Jan. 22 that the UK variant may be associated with higher mortality rates.
“We’ve been informed today that in addition to spreading more quickly, it also now appears that there is some evidence that the new variant—the variant that was first discovered in London and the southeast [in England]—may be associated with a higher degree of mortality,” Johnston said.
The world’s wealthiest countries have started vaccinating their populations to safeguard against a disease that has killed 1.8 million people globally and crushed the global economy.
Current vaccines being trialled include those already being rolled out from AstraZeneca and Oxford, Pfizer, Moderna, and Russia’s Sputnik V.