NZ reports 19 new imported cases in past three days

There have been 19 new cases reported in New Zealand's managed isolation facilities over the past three days, including six cases of the recently identified UK variant.

In its first release of numbers in 2021, the Health Ministry said in a statement that the total number of active cases is 72.

The Ministry also confirmed that the new cases included six which matched the UK variant of Covid-19 known as 20B/501Y.V1 (Lineage B.1.1.7).

"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 Ministry said the cases were all cared for with the same high level of infection prevention measures as all Covid-19 positive cases.

"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."

There were 11 new cases in managed isolation reported on Thursday, the last update before today.