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Genome Sequencing - 22 Year Old Korean 21/22 July 2020

Bronwyn Pullar made this Official Information request to Ministry of Health

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From: Bronwyn Pullar

Dear Ministry of Health,

Under the Official Information Act 1982, I request the following information:

1. What steps, if any, have NZ Health Officials and ESR taken to establish the genome sequencing of the strain of Covid-19 virus acquired by the 22 year old traveller who left NZ on 21 July 2020 and tested positive via a Rapid Test upon arrival in South Korea on 22 July 2020, and again tested positive in the subsequent PCR tests requested by NZ Health Officials to rule out the possibility of a false positive test result?

2. Did NZ Health Officials and ESR ask their counterparts in South Korean to provide the genome sequence the Covid-19 virus for the 22 year old traveller who departed NZ on 21 July 2020 and tested positive upon arrival in South Korea on 22 July 2020? If not, why not?

3. Did NZ Health Officials and ESR ask their counterparts in South Korean to provide a sample of the Covid-19 virus acquired for the 22 year old traveller who departed NZ on 21 July 2020, then tested positive upon arrival in South Korea on 22 July 2020, so that genome sequencing could be performed in NZ? If not, why not?

4. Have ESR and the NZ Health Officials established the genome sequence for the virus acquired by the 22 year old traveller who departed NZ on 21 July 2020 and tested positive upon arrival in South Korea on 22 July 2020? If not, why not? If so, what is the specific genome sequence?

5. What steps, if any, have NZ Health Officials and ESR taken to establish the NZ source of the Covid-19 virus acquired by the 22 year old traveller who left NZ on 21 July 2020 and tested positive via a Rapid Test upon arrival in South Korea on 22 July 2020?

6. What steps, if any, have NZ Health Officials and ESR taken to establish whether, or not, the strain of Covid-19 virus acquired by the 22 year old traveller who left NZ on 21 July 2020, and then tested positive upon arrival in South Korea on 22 July 2020, is the same strain as the current Auckland community outbreak where the Americold Mount Wellington worker was it’s first known case?

7. On 28 July 2020, Chris Hipkins Minister of Health confirmed in relation to the 22 year old Korean traveller that "NZ Health Officials have had very valuable exchange of information with South Korean counterparts over the case of the traveller, and that work is continuing". Please confirm what "valuable information" has been exchanged between NZ and South Korean health officials during the course of this ongoing investigation?

8. On 28 July 2020, Chris Hipkins Minister of Health confirmed in relation to the 22 year old Korean traveller that 170 close contacts had been identified? How many of those 170 close contacts were tested for Covid-19 and how many times were each of those 170 contacts tested?

9. Have any individuals identified as close or casual contacts to the South Korean traveller, or contacts of those close or casual contacts, since tested positive for Covid-19?

10. Have NZ Health Officials investigated links between the current outbreak in Auckland and the 22 year old South Korean traveller. If so, what specifically are these links?

11. Have Health Officials found any epidemiological or genomic link between the current outbreak in Auckland and the 22 year old South Korean traveller? If so, what are these links?

12. NZ Health officials confirmed the 22 year old South Korean traveller visited the King Club Pool Hall in Botany on 16 July 2020. Were employees and patrons of the King Club Pool Hall in Botany, also in attendance on 16 July 2020, been tested for Covid-19? If not, why not? If so, how many people were tested, and how many times was each individual tested?

13. Have NZ Health Officials investigated if any of the Auckland community acquired Covid-19 cases, confirmed positive since 22 July 2020, are epidemiological linked to 22 year old infected Korean's attendance at Sylvia Park in Mount Wellington, Dressmart and Savemart in Mount Roskill, King Club Pool Hall in Botany on 16 July 2020, or to Spicy House on Dominion Road on 6 July 2020? If not, why not?

Yours faithfully,

Bronwyn Pullar

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Kia ora

Thank you for your request for official information received 14 September
2020 for:

1. What steps, if any, have NZ Health Officials and ESR taken to establish
the genome sequencing of the strain of Covid-19 virus acquired by the 22
year old traveller who left NZ on 21 July 2020 and tested positive via a
Rapid Test upon arrival in South Korea on 22 July 2020, and again tested
positive in the subsequent PCR tests requested by NZ Health Officials to
rule out the possibility of a false positive test result?
2. Did NZ Health Officials and ESR ask their counterparts in South Korean
to provide the genome sequence the Covid-19 virus for the 22 year old
traveller who departed NZ on 21 July 2020 and tested positive upon arrival
in South Korea on 22 July 2020? If not, why not?
3. Did NZ Health Officials and ESR ask their counterparts in South Korean
to provide a sample of the Covid-19 virus acquired for the 22 year old
traveller who departed NZ on 21 July 2020, then tested positive upon
arrival in South Korea on 22 July 2020, so that genome sequencing could be
performed in NZ? If not, why not?
4. Have ESR and the NZ Health Officials established the genome sequence
for the virus acquired by the 22 year old traveller who departed NZ on 21
July 2020 and tested positive upon arrival in South Korea on 22 July 2020?
If not, why not? If so, what is the specific genome sequence?
5. What steps, if any, have NZ Health Officials and ESR taken to establish
the NZ source of the Covid-19 virus acquired by the 22 year old traveller
who left NZ on 21 July 2020 and tested positive via a Rapid Test upon
arrival in South Korea on 22 July 2020?
6. What steps, if any, have NZ Health Officials and ESR taken to establish
whether, or not, the strain of Covid-19 virus acquired by the 22 year old
traveller who left NZ on 21 July 2020, and then tested positive upon
arrival in South Korea on 22 July 2020, is the same strain as the current
Auckland community outbreak where the Americold Mount Wellington worker
was it’s first known case?
7. On 28 July 2020, Chris Hipkins Minister of Health confirmed in relation
to the 22 year old Korean traveller that "NZ Health Officials have had
very valuable exchange of information with South Korean counterparts over
the case of the traveller, and that work is continuing". Please confirm
what "valuable information" has been exchanged between NZ and South Korean
health officials during the course of this ongoing investigation?
8. On 28 July 2020, Chris Hipkins Minister of Health confirmed in relation
to the 22 year old Korean traveller that 170 close contacts had been
identified? How many of those 170 close contacts were tested for Covid-19
and how many times were each of those 170 contacts tested?
9. Have any individuals identified as close or casual contacts to the
South Korean traveller, or contacts of those close or casual contacts,
since tested positive for Covid-19?
10. Have NZ Health Officials investigated links between the current
outbreak in Auckland and the 22 year old South Korean traveller. If so,
what specifically are these links?
11. Have Health Officials found any epidemiological or genomic link
between the current outbreak in Auckland and the 22 year old South Korean
traveller? If so, what are these links?
12. NZ Health officials confirmed the 22 year old South Korean traveller
visited the King Club Pool Hall in Botany on 16 July 2020. Were employees
and patrons of the King Club Pool Hall in Botany, also in attendance on 16
July 2020, been tested for Covid-19? If not, why not? If so, how many
people were tested, and how many times was each individual tested?
13. Have NZ Health Officials investigated if any of the Auckland community
acquired Covid-19 cases, confirmed positive since 22 July 2020, are
epidemiological linked to 22 year old infected Korean's attendance at
Sylvia Park in Mount Wellington, Dressmart and Savemart in Mount Roskill,
King Club Pool Hall in Botany on 16 July 2020, or to Spicy House on
Dominion Road on 6 July 2020? If not, why not?

The Ministry's reference number for your request is: H202007137.

As required under the Official Information Act 1982 we will endeavour to
respond to your request no later than 12 October 2020, being 20 working
days after the day your request was received.  

If we are unable to respond to your request within this time frame, we
will notify you of an extension of that time frame.

If you have any queries related to this request, please do not hesitate to
get in touch.

Ngâ mihi

OIA Services
Government Services
Office of the Director-General
Ministry of Health
E: [email address]

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