KUALA LUMPUR, August 13 — New Zealand health officials suspect that Covid-19 may have been spreading in the community for weeks.
The Guardian reported today New Zealand’s health director-general Dr Ashley Bloomfield as saying that the originally identified Covid-19 patient showed symptoms since July 31, which indicates that the virus was going around Auckland for almost two weeks.
The country recorded 13 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the recent number of cases to 17. All of the newly identified cases were related to the four cases that were identified on Tuesday.
Of the cases, a student also tested positive with the coronavirus — linked to a previous case in Auckland.
Almost 100 close contacts of the student have been identified by the country’s health authorities and isolated.
New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, anticipated that the scenario would get worse before it gets better.
“As we all learnt from our first experience with Covid, once you identify a cluster, it grows before it slows. We should expect that to be the case here,” Ardern was quoted saying in a media briefing in Wellington.
“We can see the seriousness of the situation we are in. It’s being dealt with in an urgent but calm and methodical way.”
“Once again we are reminded of how tricky this virus is and how easily it can spread,” Ardern added. “Going hard and early is still the best course of action.”
At the same time, Dr Bloomfield mentioned that the positive Covid-19 patients will be placed in quarantine centres to curb virus transmission in the community.
Initially, the country allowed Covid-19 patients to isolate themselves at home unless they are seriously ill and will be admitted in hospital.
“We will find the source, I have no doubt about that.” Dr Bloomfield was quoted saying.
He also denied the possibility that Covid-19 was imported into the country by freight.
Auckland is currently under lockdown when the city recorded four new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, after 102 days of zero local transmissions in the country.
Experts anticipated that the three days of lockdown would be extended until the source of the virus was identified.
A total of 36 patients are still receiving treatment in New Zealand, including those who were quarantined at designated centres.