Two more schools alerted after man gets coronavirus from travel

Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 5 Mar 2020, 2:11PM
Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield. (Photo / NZ Herald)
Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Two more schools alerted after man gets coronavirus from travel

Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 5 Mar 2020, 2:11PM

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield this afternoon confirmed that the country's third coronavirus case was a man in Auckland in his 40s.

He has close family members who have returned to New Zealand after spending time in Iran recently.

Two schools, Auckland Grammar and Ormiston Junior College, have been notified as there is a family member at each of those schools.

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 travelling family member believed to have passed the virus to the Auckland man was a "probable" case but was no longer showing any symptoms, Bloomfield said.

It was "very likely" this person did, in fact, have coronavirus before recovering, but the ministry will not be retesting them.

In terms of the numbers at this stage, there are three people confirmed with coronavirus, with a fourth probable case.

The third case was reported to the ministry at 6pm last night.

He said the chance of wide-spread community outbreak remains low.

Bloomfield said the man does not require hospital level care, and is in self-isolation.

The man's family remains in self-isolation too. The man's partner, who has been unwell, is also being tested.

The man himself has not travelled to Iran – but his family did.

The family member, who traveled back from Iran, presumably had coronavirus – but they recovered, Bloomfield said.

However, they did pass it on to the man in his 40s.

The family member who was in Iran does not have coronavirus.

The family was on flight QR 0920 from Doha which departed February 22 and arrived in Auckland on February 23.

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.

Other people who have been in contact with the man have been asked to self-isolate.

Seven people are under investigation for the virus.

The ministry can do 550 tests a day, but that will be upped to almost 1000 within the coming weeks.

Bloomfield said the ministry would not be disclosing which medical centre the man went to.

The six people who were in quarantine in Whangaparāoa have been released to go home. None of them had coronavirus.

The ministry is making more moves to bolster how it handles surveillance from coronavirus.

Bloomfield called out "keyboard warriors" who have been critical of families who have been impacted by the disease.

He said people should not be criticised from coming forward.

"We don't want to be counter-productive and discourage people from coming forward."

Bloomfield said the Government was going "very well" when it comes to the contract tracing for the second coronavirus case.

The testing of the partner of the second person who contracted the disease is under way and will be made public later in the day.

He again urged people to call Health Line if they have symptoms.

Katrina Casey of the Ministry of Education said the Government was focused on prevention.

Material about the virus is being sent to schools today.

She said it was important that schools know what's going on.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this morning deferred any detailed comment on the matter to Bloomfield.

From now on, Bloomfield and his officials will have a 1pm briefing every day to provide details of the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak and what his ministry is doing in terms of containment.

The latest figures from the World Health Organisation show there are now almost 93,000 cases of Covid-19 in 81 countries around the world.

More than 3100 people have died.

Speaking to media this morning, Ardern called for calm.

"The most important thing people can do is if they are sick, stay home."

She said New Zealand has "significant capacity" for testing for Covid-19 – up to 550 people a day can be tested.

She said New Zealand's hospitals can cope with the outbreak.

"Our public health system is designed for [an outbreak] like this."

Ardern highlighted New Zealand's "world-class" health system which she said was geared up to deal with the outbreak.

"I have every faith in our system."