New Zealand authorities are investigating whether the country’s first locally acquired cases of Covid-19 in more than 100 days were spread by refrigerated freight imported from overseas.
Officials are probing the sudden emergence of Covid-19 in four family members in Auckland, the nation’s biggest city. One of the four, who tested positive this week, worked at a cold storage facility that is now being tested for traces of the virus.
“We do know from studies overseas that actually, the virus can survive in some refrigerated environments for quite some time,” said Ashley Bloomfield, director-general of New Zealand Health. “We are confident we didn’t have any community transmission for a very long period.”
The new outbreak led the government to impose a strict lockdown on Auckland on Wednesday.
Experts said a genetic analysis of the four new Covid-19 cases should help to explain whether they were infected by surface transmission from freight or via the much more common route of human-to-human transmission.
“Imported freight is a possibility that should be explored via testing,” said Nick Wilson, professor of public health at the University of Otago. “Nevertheless, I suspect it is far more likely to be a border-related event, such as a worker infected from someone…