Coronavirus: Two suspected cases in NZ both test negative

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 3 Mar 2020, 2:48PM
Photo / File
Photo / File

Coronavirus: Two suspected cases in NZ both test negative

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 3 Mar 2020, 2:48PM

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has revealed that one of two people in New Zealand showing signs of coronavirus has tested negative for the virus.

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield has just told reporters that there has been no new confirmed cases of coronavirus is New Zealand.

The six people in quarantine at Whangaparaoa remain healthy and well.

But Bloomfield said the Ministry of Health was expecting sporadic cases of Covid-19 to appear across New Zealand.

There have been 155 tests, one of which has returned positive, and there are currently 31 tests underway.

"There is constantly a number of tests underway, we would only provide additional detail if any returned a positive result," Bloomfield said.

Dr Michelle Balm, Clinical Leader for Infection Services at Capital & Coast DHB said all DHBs around New Zealand have been preparing for a response to Covid-19 for some weeks.

There have been no cases in the Wellington region, she said, so the DHB has been focused on early detection

If a patient came to hospital or their GP with a suspected case of coronavirus they would be assessed on a risk basis focused on their symptoms and where they have travelled.

There is no rationing of Covid-19 tests, she says, despite rumours circulating, and there is capacity for hundreds of tests per day.

"Nobody wants to miss the first Covid-19 case within the region, so we are proactively managing as required," she said.

"If you are worried you have Covid-19 it is a good idea not to front up without prior arrangement with an emergency department or your primary care provider," Balm said.

She encouraged anyone who suspected they had the virus to call Healthline first.

Balm said tests are likely to present a false negative if the patient doesn't have symptoms already present.

Bloomfield had said yesterday that there were two people in New Zealand with symptoms consistent with Covid-19 but their test results were yet to come in.

They had arrived on a different flight to the first case of Covid-19 in New Zealand, a person in their 60s who had arrived from Tehran via Bali on Emirates flight EK450 on February 26.

That person was feeling unwell when they flew into New Zealand and they and their family wore masks on their flight, and they were admitted to Auckland City Hospital not long after arrival. They are in a stable condition and are recovering well, Bloomfield said.

Passengers who sat close to the person on the flight have been contacted. Bloomfield said nobody sitting near the person had been tested for Covid-19 as none of them were showing symptoms of the disease.

However two people who were on the flight are being monitored in Nelson for symptoms of the virus and are in self-quarantine.

There was still no sign of "community transmission" in New Zealand, Bloomfield said.

After their diagnosis, the Ministry of Health said it was confident the swift actions of the person and their family, and the health sector, meant there was a low risk of the virus spreading in the community from that case.

New Zealand does not have COVID-19 circulating, the MoH says on its website.

"We knew the likelihood of an imported case in New Zealand was high, however, the likelihood of a widespread outbreak is low-moderate."

The Government yesterday extended the travel ban on foreigners arriving from China and Iran by another week, until March 10, while those arriving from northern Italy or South Korea are asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

Worldwide there have been more than 90,000 confirmed cases, with more than 3000 deaths - mostly in mainland China. Nearly 46,000 people are reported to have recovered from the virus.