Asia Today: New Zealand reports 1st community case in months

National News

A government worker wearing personal protective equipment guards at the closed area in Jordan district, in Hong Kong, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. Thousands of Hong Kong residents were locked down Saturday in an unprecedented move to contain a worsening outbreak in the city, authorities said. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

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

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 its 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.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region:

— A Chinese city has completed 2,600 temporary treatment rooms as the country’s north battles new clusters of the coronavirus. The single-occupancy rooms in the city of Nangong in Hebei province just outside Beijing are each equipped with their own heaters, toilets, showers and other amenities, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Special attention has been paid to Hebei because of its proximity to the capital and the province has locked down large areas to prevent further spread of the virus. The provincial capital Shijiazhung and the city of Xingtai, which encompasses Nangong, have been largely sealed off. Community isolation and large-scale testing have also been enforced. The National Health Commission on Sunday reported 19 additional cases in Hebei. The far northeastern province of Heilongjiang reported another 29 cases, linked partly to an outbreak at a meat processing plant. Beijing, where around 2 million residents have been ordered to undergo new testing, reported two new confirmed cases. China currently has 1,800 people being treated for COVID-19, 94 of them listed in serious condition, with another 1,017 being monitored in isolation for having tested positive for the virus without displaying symptoms.

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