Officials say New Zealand's new coronavirus cases likely came from either Australia or the UK based on their genomic sequences, Yahoo News reports.
New Zealand had gone more than 100 days without a locally transmitted COVID-19 case, but last week reported about a dozen new cases, leading Auckland to be placed into a lockdown and the affected individuals quarantined. The Newsroom reported last week that health officials were using genomic sequencing in combination with contract tracing to try to uncover the source of these new cases.
According to Yahoo News, the SARS-CoV-2 strain behind the new cluster — now encompassing 58 people — is new and likely is from Australia or the UK.
But as Reuters notes, how the new SARS-CoV-2 strain arrived in New Zealand is still unclear, as it closed its borders to foreigners since March and as all returning citizens must quarantine for 14 days. Some officials have suggested the virus entered via freight, though New Zealand's Health Chief Ashley Bloomfield says surface transmission is not likely and that person-to-person transmission is more probable. Yahoo News notes security lapses have been reported at quarantine facilities, but officials say there is no evidence supporting that route of transmission, though testing is ongoing.