WELLINGTON, New Zealand – New Zealand has reported its first coronavirus case outside a quarantine facility in more than two months, although there is no direct evidence that the virus is spreading in communities.
Health Director General Ashley Bloomfield said the case was a 56-year-old woman who recently returned from Europe.
Like other returning travelers, he spent 14 days in quarantine and tested negative twice before returning home on January 13. He later developed symptoms and tested positive.
He said health officials would carry out genome testing but worked on the assumption that the case was a more contagious variant of the virus.
He said they were investigating to see if it was possible that he contracted the disease from other returning travelers who were staying at the same quarantine facility.
New Zealand has been eradicating community transmission of the virus, at least for now. Bloomfield said officials are stepping up contact tracing and testing efforts and hope to have more information on the case in the coming days.
Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region:
– A Chinese city has completed 2,600 temporary wards as the country’s north fights a new coronavirus outbreak. The single-occupancy rooms in Nangong city in Hebei province outside Beijing are each equipped with their own heating, toilet, shower and other facilities, reports the official Xinhua News Agency. Particular attention has been paid to Hebei as its proximity to the capital and the province has locked up large areas to prevent further spread of the virus. The provincial capital of Shijiazhung and the city of Xingtai, which includes Nangong, have been largely closed. Community isolation and large-scale testing have also been introduced. The National Health Commission on Sunday reported 19 additional cases in Hebei. Northeastern Heilongjiang province reported another 29 cases, some of which were linked to an outbreak at a meat processing plant. Beijing, where about 2 million residents have been ordered to undergo new tests, reported two new confirmed cases. China currently has 1,800 people being treated for COVID-19, 94 of whom are listed as in serious condition, with another 1,017 being monitored in isolation because they have tested positive for the virus without showing symptoms.
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