First case of virus in NZ

The Ministry of Health has confirmed that a case of Covid-19 is being treated at Auckland Hospital and that the person had to be tested three times before showing a positive result.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said: "As the gateway to New Zealand, a case of the coronavirus in Auckland was close to inevitable and health authorities are well prepared to handle it.

"The Ministry of Health advises that the patient is being treated in a negative-pressure room [air cannot escape] to prevent the virus from spreading, and people who were in immediate contact with the patient are also in isolation.

"The ministry has said the risk of a community outbreak remains low, and a pandemic plan is in place to manage the situation.

"Health authorities are closely monitoring the situation in line with World Health Organisation guidance and I encourage Aucklanders to remain calm. The ministry will advise if any public health measures become necessary."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed the news speaking to media in Sydney yesterday.

The person is aged in their 60s and arrived in New Zealand on Wednesday on Emirates flight EK450 from Teheran, via Bali.

The person, a New Zealand citizen, was in a stable and improving condition in hospital.

"Their family became concerned about their condition and called Healthline," the Prime Minister said.

"They were advised to seek medical attention and attended Auckland City Hospital emergency department that same day. All were wearing masks on arrival. As a result of the individual’s symptoms and travel history they were admitted and tested."

A Ministry of Health spokesman said, "The person arrived in Auckland on February 26 and travelled home in a private car."

Director-general of Health Ashley Bloomfield said they were formally notified about the case at 4.15pm, and had prepared for weeks so were ready.

The person, who had travelled to Iran some weeks ago to visit family, had a cough and difficulty breathing.

Dr Bloomfield said the clinicians had suspicions this was coronavirus which is why they took further samples after two negative tests from throat samples.

Symptoms of a lung infection were present though so a third test was done.

The chance of a community outbreak was low, he said.

"We are now asking New Zealanders who have returned from Iran in the last 14 days to self-isolate and register with Healthline. We have a family that has done exactly the right thing."

Dr Bloomfield said they would not be retesting other people because this was the first case where the person’s symptoms matched the virus, hence the third test.

They would be offering tests to the person’s family.

Health officials were contacting people in the same row as the individual plus those two rows ahead or behind on the flight from Iran to New Zealand and they would be contacted by public health and required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Authorities would also be contacting flight crew. Dr Bloomfield said the patient wore a mask on the flight so transmission was unlikely, but did concede other passengers from the flight could now be across New Zealand.

Anyone concerned should contact Healthline number 0800358-5453 (+649358-5453 from international SIMS) which is free and available 24 hours a day.


If this hits NZ we are screwed. We don't manufacture anything, can't produce enoght food to sustain our population, are totally relient on China for our medication supply and have based our entire economy on tourism. We are screwed! Supply lines could slow down and dry up. People needing medication won't get it. Food and simple things like toilet paper will be hard to find. Where's the tourist. What about DPH, think it can handle something like this? Guess what...number 8 wire can't fix this! This is why globalization is so bad. We are too reliant on other nations for our survival. What's dcc doing to prepare for this? Is the mayor's new adviser going to fix this? What about the money wasted on electric cars and bikes? Could that money have been used better to protect citizens? Funny how the mayor touts global warming as the threat when we all might be wiped out by a pandemic. This is why we need the best qualified elected and not under STV? You voted these people into office and now you see the results of apathy in the election system. Think about this next time you vote...these are the clowns in charge during a crisis. You really want that? I don't!

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter