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New Zealand searches for mystery source of new Covid-19 case

Health officials in New Zealand said Monday they were still searching for the source of infection of a man who tested positive for Covid-19 after completing a fortnight in isolation.

Wellington, 21 September 2020 (dpa/MIA) — Health officials in New Zealand said Monday they were still searching for the source of infection of a man who tested positive for Covid-19 after completing a fortnight in isolation.

The man returned to New Zealand from India on Aug. 27 and completed mandatory isolation in Christchurch, Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told media.

He then returned home to Auckland, before developing symptoms and testing positive for Covid-19 on Sept. 18.

Bloomfield said officials were keeping an “open mind” about the source of the infection.

“He could have been infected in India before departing and had a very long and unusual period of incubating the virus. That is rare but it can happen,” Bloomfield said.

It was also possible the man had contracted the virus on the flight to New Zealand, in the isolation facility, or on the Auckland flight, he said.

“We aren’t ruling out any possibilities and are working to get to the bottom of this case,” Bloomfield said.

Auckland, the country’s largest city, has been under restrictions since Aug. 12, when the country’s coronavirus-free status ended after more than 100 days.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Monday that restrictions in Auckland would be eased from Wednesday, with gatherings of 100 people allowed to take place.

New Zealand has so far recorded a total of 1,464 cases, with 25 deaths.

The country had 62 active cases of Covid-19 as of Monday, of which 33 were community cases.

On Monday the government also said it would join more than 170 other countries in a global effort aimed at providing equitable worldwide access to Covid-19 vaccines.

New Zealand would invest 27 million New Zealand dollars (18 million US dollars) to support the initiative, known as COVAX, and the development and manufacturing of a vaccine, Foreign Minister Winston Peters said in a statement.

The agreement would also ensure New Zealand received enough vaccines to cover up to 50 percent of its population and realm, which includes Tokelau, the Cook Islands and Niue, Peters said.

“It’s important that all countries are able to access sufficient amounts of vaccines to protect their populations and contribute to getting the pandemic under control on a global level,” he said.

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