1 Feb 2020

Testing of a suspected case of coronavirus in Auckland has come back negative

7:43 pm on 1 February 2020

A patient in isolation at Auckland City Hospital with New Zealand's first suspected case of coronavirus has tested negative.

Auckland City Hospital

Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield has told reporters at a media conference in Wellington today that there is another explanation for the patient's illness.

He said there are no other suspected or confirmed cases of the virus in New Zealand.

Six cases of the suspected virus in New Zealand have been tested so far and have all come back negative.

But Dr Bloomfield said it was important to remain vigilant as they still expect to get a case here at some point.

He said although the patient tested negative for coronavirus, he thanked them for following the right process and coming forward.

The symptoms of coronavirus are a cough, fever and difficulty breathing which are similar to a range of respiratory illness and anyone with these symptoms should telephone healthline in the first instance, he said.

Anyone who has had close contact with a confirmed case, or who has been in the Hubei province in China or in Wuhan City in particular over the last 14 days should isolate themselves, Dr Bloomfield said.

He said it was encouraging that the result is negative and the systems are ready as they were able to isolate the person and get the test results quickly.

He said the US has put more stringent border measures in place overnight and New Zealand is reviewing whether it needs to consider any additional border measures.

Dr Bloomfield said a range of government agencies are collaborating on what should happen next and extra screening is still being considered.

"The mainstay of what considerations about what's the most appropriate thing is what we consider the public health risk, and I think at the moment I think we're fine, but we're actively reconsidering especially in light of what other countries have done."

Dr Bloomfield said we should know more tomorrow about when a New Zealand-bound plane may be able to leave Wuhan.

The total number of deaths from the coronavirus epidemic in China has reached 259, up by 46.

China's National Health Commission said the total number of infections is now 11,791.

The province of Hubei, the centre of the epidemic, remains under virtual quarantine, with roads sealed off and public transport shut down, but small numbers of travellers continue to breach the lockdown.

Amid fears that the virus could spread further overseas, the United States announced measures to restrict entry to foreign nationals who have recently been in China. All three major US airlines also said on Friday they would cancel flights to mainland China.

Cities across China continue to implement special measures aimed at curbing the spread of the pathogen. Tianjin, a city in northern China with around 15 million people, said all schools and businesses would be suspended until further notice.

RNZ / Reuters

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs