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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.