Probable case of COVID-19 in a returnee

Media release

24 January 2021

The Ministry of Health is investigating a positive test result in a person who recently travelled from overseas and completed their stay in managed isolation in a facility in Auckland.

In the case we are investigating and reporting today, the person had travelled in Spain and the Netherlands late last year for work.

While in the Netherlands she was in contact with family members, who subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.

The person left the United Kingdom en route to New Zealand, travelling via Singapore, arriving in Auckland on 30 December.

She carried out the required 14 days in managed isolation at the Pullman in Auckland and returned two negative tests as part of routine testing – one on 2 January and one on 10 January.

After meeting the final health assessment for release, she left managed isolation on 13 January and travelled home to the Northland region. She lives with one other person who has not been symptomatic, who has been tested and is also isolating while awaiting results.

The person started developing mild symptoms on 15 January and these progressively got worse. The person had a test taken on Friday 22 January and self-isolated at home.

Late last night the result was returned as positive for COVID-19. Further testing is needed, including a serology blood test, to confirm whether the case is new or historical. However, the CT value from the initial test suggests that it is new and we are treating it as such.

We are undertaking rapid genome sequencing to see if there’s a match to other cases in the managed isolation facility as well as to whether the person has one of the more transmissable variants we’ve seen reported recently.
Importantly, we are working on the assumption any case might be a more transmissible variant and are taking appropriate precautions. 

It is too early to say where this infection has occurred — we hope further testing and investigation will helpt to confirm this.  

This is a reminder to us all of how COVID-19 is an extremely difficult virus to manage, as we’ve seen overseas and here in New Zealand.

Movements in the community

As part of the investigative process carried out by the public health unit, the person was able to provide thorough details on where they had been since departing managed isolation. Four close contacts are being tested and are required to isolate for a full 14 days since their last exposure.

The person visited a number of places in the Northland region on departing managed isolation and went to around 30 locations. Importantly the person has been vigilant in using the COVID TRACER app since leaving MIF and we have been able to rapidly identify these locations and are in the process of notifying them.

The names and relevant dates and times will be publicised and COVID Tracer app notifications issued.

The alert will advise users that they may have been in contact with someone with COVID-19. The 30 locations will be listed on the Ministry’s website as soon as the businesses are informed. See Contact tracing locations of interest.

For contact tracing purposes, anyone who attended one of the locations listed during the relevant timeframes is considered has a low risk of exposure however we are asking all those people to isolate and call Healthline about when and where to get a test. If you have any symptoms, get a test promptly.

Close contacts have been contacted directly.

This is a clear reminder of how important it is to use the COVID Tracer app to scan QR codes and turn on Bluetooth functionality. Turning on Bluetooth functionality will allow you to receive an alert if you have been near another app user who tests positive for COVID-19.

Community testing stations

Northland and Auckland health officials are working to provide additional testing in the area,

Community testing is available from 4-8pm today in Whangarei - CBAC, 20 Winger Crescent, Kamo, Whangarei. For further information about other community testing sites in the area please go to

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service has a full list of after hours/weekend testing and community testing centres throughout the region.

Also remember to stay home if you are unwell, maintain stringent hygiene practices, including washing and drying your hands and cough or sneeze into your elbow. Contact Healthline on 0800 358 5453 or call your GP to see if you need to have a test.

Media contact

Andrea Birtwistle
021 707 503

Back to top