New Zealand reports 1st community coronavirus case in months

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AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – DECEMBER 17: Medical testing equipment is shown in a lab at Auckland University on December 17, 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today that the Government will purchase two new COVID-19 vaccines from pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Novavax, meaning every New Zealander will be able to be vaccinated. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand has reported its first case of community transmission in more than two months, although there was no immediate evidence that the coronavirus was spreading.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said Sunday the case was a 56-year-old woman who recently returned from Europe.

Like other returning travelers, she spent 14 days in quarantine and twice tested negative before being returning home on Jan. 13. She later developed symptoms and tested positive.

He said health officials will conduct genome testing but are working under the assumption that the case is a more transmissible variant of the virus.

He said they are investigating to see whether it’s possible she caught the disease from another returning traveler who was staying in the same quarantine facility.

New Zealand has eliminated community transmission of the virus, at least for now. Bloomfield said officials are ramping up contact tracing and testing efforts and hope to have more information about the case in the coming days.

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