By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

The New Zealand Ministry of Health confirms six positive cases of COVID-19 have been found to match the recently identified UK variant of COVID-19 known as 20B/501Y.V1 (Lineage B.1.1.7).

Image/cmccarthy2001 via pixabay

All positive COVID-19 tests in New Zealand are sent to ESR for whole genome sequencing as part of our overall elimination strategy. As part of routine sequencing of these particular cases, matches to the UK variant were confirmed.

The six cases, five of whom travelled from the United Kingdom and one who travelled from South Africa, arrived into New Zealand between 13 and 25 December and underwent routine testing in managed isolation as part of routine surveillance testing or because they developed symptoms. Once confirmed positive they were transferred to the Auckland quarantine facility.

Four of these cases are now recovered and, after a final health check, were able to leave the facility.

The cases are all cared for with the same high level of infection prevention measures  as all COVID-19 positive cases, with daily health checks and use of PPE. Infection prevention control protocols are in place for all staff and we can assure the public that there is no increased risk to the community.

The UK variant is more transmissible than other variants of the virus but there is no evidence at this stage that the length of the infection period is any different to any other variant of COVID-19, nor is it more likely to produce severe illness.

All cases detected in managed isolation must meet the recovered case definition before being allowed to leave the facility as assessed by the medical team. This includes a period of at least 72 hours without any symptoms and a minimum of 10 days since symptom onset or a positive test.