Taranaki first case of coronavirus in 24 days had lived symptom-free for weeks after returning from France in March.
On Sunday the Ministry of Health revealed there were four new confirmed cases and five new probable cases in the country, bringing the combined total of cases to 1461, with 1118 of those recovered.
One of the new cases was in Taranaki, its first since April 1.
The woman, in her 50s, had travelled from France and arrived in New Plymouth on March 15 and was tested on Friday, April 24, the Taranaki District Health Board said in a media release.
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“This is quite an unusual situation where the person with the infection has returned home in mid-March after travelling through Europe, and had mild symptoms a few days later,” Taranaki DHB’s medical officer of health, Dr Jonathan Jarman said.
“She has then lived symptom-free until just this week when she decided to get tested for Covid-19 because she had a runny nose.
“We believe that the first illness in March was most likely the start of the Covid-19 infection.”
Jarman said it was lucky the woman had put herself into quarantine when she arrived home, before the country was put into lockdown.
Taranaki’s Public Health Unit was now contact tracing people close to the woman, but her bubble appeared to be very small, Jarman said.
Those people were now in strict isolation and would all be tested.
The new case brings the region’s total number of cases to 15, more than half of which have recovered.
“This case highlights the ongoing importance of staying in your bubble and getting a test if you develop a flu-like illness. Early detection and isolation saves lives,” he said.
The positive tests comes after clinics were set up around the region last week to help determine whether community transmission had taken place.
At 11.59pm on Monday the country will transition down from alert level 4 to level 3.
The change in levels allows new, but limited, freedoms.
While all workers who can work from home should continue to do so, retail and hospitality operations can open if they provide contactless purchase and delivery, such as drive-thru or click-and-collect.
With the exception of supermarkets, dairies and petrol stations, shopfronts cannot be opened.
Some trades can also resume, if they can be carried out safely and ensure social distancing at all times.
New Zealand’s alert level will next be reassessed on May 11.
Taranaki District Heath Board chief executive Rosemary Clements said the DHB was working closely with the Ministry of Health to provide safe healthcare when the levels changed.
“This means strict hygiene measures and social/physical distancing measures will remain in place, and personal protective equipment will be used by all health care staff when required,” says Mrs Clements.
Clements said Covid-19 testing will also continue and people can now go direct to one of the four local testing clinics in New Plymouth, Hawera, Waitara and Opunake.
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