How genomics will help us track Covid-19


New Zealand has found itself suddenly plunged into a dire situation: Four new cases of Covid-19 in the community with no obvious link to the border, managed isolation and quarantine facilities or overseas travel.

While contact tracing is underway to attempt to find out who infected yesterday’s four cases and search for more links to the border, it could still come up blank. Contact tracing will never be perfect and the Government is even investigating the possibility that the virus came in a cooled shipping container from overseas, rather than via a person who crossed the border on an Air New Zealand flight.

Given this, the Government has turned to a new tool in its arsenal.

“I should add that we are also doing genome sequencing on all those who have tested positive and our recent cases and current cases in managed isolation and quarantine,” Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said on Wednesday.

“That will help us track where this virus may have arisen from and then gotten out into the community.”

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