4 Mar 2020

Second case of coronavirus confirmed in New Zealand

5:03 pm on 4 March 2020

The Prime Minister is reassuring the public NZ is ready and able to deal with Covid-19, after the second case of coronavrius was confirmed in this country today.

A woman in her 30s has tested positive for the coronavirus, after returning to Auckland from northern Italy last week.

She has quarantined herself at home, along with her partner and two children who live with her.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she understood people may be watching developments with concern, but a plan was in place.

Ardern said the latest confirmed case showed that some people with the virus will only have mild to moderate symptoms and would not require hospital treatment.

She said detailed tracing was being done for those who came into close contact with the country's second confirmed case.

Ardern said officials had detailed information about the woman's movements and were following up with people as a precaution.

"Keeping in mind that while someone is asymptomatic, while they are not showing any signs of being unwell, the chances of them transmitting Covid-19 is very, very low. But we are taking all steps to contact those as a precautionary act to make sure that those who should be isolating themselves are."

Earlier today the World Health Organisation said on its website that a second New Zealand case had been confirmed.

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield then confirmed the citizen is a woman in her 30s who had recently returned from a trip to Italy.

The positive test result was formally reported to the ministry at about 6pm yesterday. At that point, health authorities began notifying the woman and her family and started the process of contact tracing.

The woman returned on an Air New Zealand flight NZ0283, from Singapore to Auckland on 25 February.

Bloomfield said anyone who was on that flight and is concerned or wants information should contact the Healthline number (0800 358 5453).

The woman also took two domestic flights - one on 2 March from Auckland to Palmerston North (NZ5103), and on the same day from Palmerston North to Auckland (NZ8114).

Bloomfield said the woman is self-isolating at home and is being monitored. She does not require hospitalisation.

Her partner has also displayed symptoms and is being tested.

Bloomfield said with continued vigilance, the chance of widespread community outbreak remains low.

Contact is being made with the two medical centres where the woman sought advice and treatment to determine whether there is any risk to staff or other people who may have been at the centre at that time. Contact tracing and action will be taken as required.

A technician prepares patient samples for the clarification of the coronavirus.

A technician prepares patient samples for the clarification of the coronavirus. Photo: AFP

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.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said there was no cause for alarm, and parents and students should rest assured that the schools had the situation in hand.

The Ministry of Health reportedly called the press conference after enquiries from RNZ's Checkpoint about a positive Covid-19 case.

New Zealand's first case was a woman who had returned from Iran via Bali. She is recovering in hospital in Auckland.

The ministry said 160 tests have been carried out. All the testing of New Zealanders for Covid-19 were being done in New Zealand.

Air New Zealand says it is working closely with government agencies to identify and contact other passengers on board the international and domestic flights.

The airline's chief medical officer Dr Ben Johnston said the three aircraft will undergo a deep clean using a disinfectant that kills viruses.

Total infections worldwide have topped 90,000, with deaths now over 3100. Nearly all cases and deaths have been in China but the numbers in Iran, Italy and South Korea have continued to grow.

Travel restrictions were extended this week with people travelling via Italy and South Korea having to go into isolation for two weeks upon arrival. Visitors travelling from mainland China and Iran were already barred from entering the country, while citizens and permanent residents from those places are being asked to go into isolation.

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