The second case of COVID-19 is confirmed in a New Zealand citizen. The woman in her 30s recently returned to Auckland from northern Italy.
The results of the test were formally reported to the Ministry at about 6pm on Tuesday evening.
At that point, health authorities began notifying the woman and her family and started the process of contact tracing.
Although we have our second case of COVID-19, with continued vigilance the chance of widespread community outbreak is expected to remain low.
The woman confirmed with COVID-19 is in self-isolation in her home with appropriate clinical support from public health and district health board staff. Self-isolation at home is recognised by the World Health Organization as an appropriate response for people with mild to moderate symptoms. She doesn’t require hospital level care.
The woman’s immediate household contacts are with her in self-isolation as a precautionary measure. The woman’s partner has also displayed symptoms and is being tested.
Public health officials last night began tracing the woman’s other close and casual contacts to ensure appropriate protection measures are in place.
The flight on which the woman returned to New Zealand was from Singapore to Auckland.
25 February - NZ0283 Singapore to Auckland
In addition to proactive tracing of close contacts on this flight by public health staff, contact will be made with everyone on the flight to provide relevant information. A reminder: close contacts are people who were in the same row of seats, the two rows in front and the two rows behind. Anyone who was on this flight and is concerned or would like information should contact the Healthline number 0800 358 5453.
The woman who has now tested positive for coronavirus also took two domestic flights.
2 March - NZ5103 Auckland to Palmerston North
2 March - NZ8114 Palmerston North to Auckland
In addition to proactive tracing of close contacts on this flight by public health staff, contact will be made with everyone on the flight to provide relevant information. Once again a reminder: close contacts are people who were in the same row of seats, the two rows in front and the two rows behind. Anyone who was on this flight and is concerned or would like information should contact the Healthline number 0800 358 5453.
Contact is being made with the two medical centres where the woman sought advice and treatment to determine if there is any risk to staff or other people who may have been at the centre at that time. Appropriate contact tracing and action will be taken as required.
Two schools have also been notified about the positive test as there is a family member at each of those schools. These schools are Westlake Boys and Westlake Girls High Schools.
The family members who attend these schools are not symptomatic and are now at home in isolation. They did not travel to Italy, are both well and are being monitored.
The Ministries of Education and Health will work together to provide the schools with appropriate advice and support. The Ministries also want to emphasise that contacts of contacts are not risk.
In conclusion, a personal message from the Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
“I want to say that this is a Kiwi family that has been affected by a virus that is part of a worldwide outbreak. What they need is support and understanding. Our task is to ensure they have all the support and health care they need.”
New Zealand is one of 74 countries and territories to report confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Keeping individuals, families and our communities safe and healthy in the current global environment requires a team effort and that's what we're seeing across New Zealand.
It is critically important that we both protect New Zealanders from the virus and play our part in the global effort to contain it. Healthline's dedicated COVID-19 number, 0800 358 5453, is free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
An urgent meeting of the TAG expert advisory group was convened this morning (Wednesday) for further advice on case definitions and testing.
The Government confirmed this week that travel restrictions currently in place for China and Iran will continue for a further week, while people entering the country from South Korea and northern Italy will now be told to go into self-isolation.
The expert advisory group has also recently revised the advice to health professionals about identifying possible cases of COVID-19 by adding Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore and Thailand to China as countries and territories of concern when assessing patients.
Anyone arriving in NZ who has visited those countries and territories in the previous 14 days is advised if they develop symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath they should seek medical advice by first phoning Healthline’s dedicated COVID-19 number 0800 358 5453 or phone ahead to their GP before their visit.
Name Peter Abernethy
Phone 021 366 111