The third case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in a New Zealand resident.
The third case is an Auckland man in his 40s who has close family, also New Zealand residents, who have recently returned to this country after visiting Iran. Results of the test were formally reported to the Ministry at about 6pm on Wednesday evening.
Last night, health authorities notified the man and his family of the result and started the process of contact tracing.
This third case of COVID-19 is classified as what we suspect is a case of family transmission. There is what appears to be a clear link with travel to Iran by a close family member. Our view remains that with continued vigilance the chance of widespread community outbreak remains low.
The man confirmed with COVID-19 is in self-isolation at home with appropriate clinical support from public health and district health board staff. Self-isolation at home is an appropriate response for people with mild to moderate symptoms and is recognised by the World Health Organization. He doesn’t require hospital level care and neither does anyone else in the home.
Three other members of the man’s family had previously been unwell, none seriously. They have now fully recovered and are with him in self-isolation.
This is a precautionary measure. No one else in the family is displaying symptoms presently and no one else is currently being tested.
Public health officials last night began tracing the other close and casual contacts of the three family members who had been unwell to ensure appropriate protection measures are in place.
That includes the flight on which two family members recently arrived in New Zealand from Iran. Those flight details are:
Qatar QR0920 Doha to Auckland, departed 22 February, arrived Auckland 23 February.
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.
Healthline knows the seat numbers and will be able to advise anyone on the flight, whether they are considered a close or casual contact.
Anyone who was on this flight and is concerned or would like information should contact the Healthline number 0800 358 5453. Interpreters are available.
Contact has been made with the medical centre where the man sought advice. One staff member who treated the man is being treated as a close contact and will be in self isolation for 14 days. Public health officials are tracing patients who may have had contact with the man, who was symptomatic when he visited the centre.
There has been media interest in naming medical centres involved with positive cases. At this time the centres will not be identified. We do not want the public to be concerned about visiting their general practices for routine visits.
If you visited one of the centres and are considered to be at risk, you will be contacted by public health officers. They will 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 Auckland Grammar and Ormiston Junior College.
The students who attend these schools are now at home in isolation. They have no symptoms.
There is no risk to students or staff in either of the schools. The two students have not been symptomatic while they have been at school, and are not considered infectious now. The Ministries of Education and Health will work together to provide the schools with appropriate advice and support.
In conclusion, a personal message from the Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield.
“I want to repeat what I said yesterday: these are Kiwi families 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 healthcare they need.”
New Zealand is one of 77 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. Interpreters are available.
The Ministry’s TAG expert advisory group will meet again today 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 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