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Source: New Zealand Ministry of Health

New Zealand’s seventh and eighth cases of COVID-19 were announced today in two travellers recently arrived in New Zealand.

A man in his 60s visiting from Australia, who was tested in Australia prior to flying to New Zealand, has now been confirmed as positive by the Australian authorities.

The man arrived in Wellington at 12.05 am on Saturday morning 14 March from Brisbane on Air New Zealand flight number 828 and was informed later that morning by his Australian doctor of his positive test result.

The man, now symptom free, is now in self isolation with his partner and another family member, both well, and cooperating fully with Public Health staff.  He does not require hospital care or other medical treatment.

Public Health staff will be checking with their Australian counterparts about what advice was provided to the man prior to travelling.

The eighth case is a woman in her 30s travelling from Denmark who arrived in Auckland via Doha on QR 920 on Tuesday 10 March and then flew from Auckland to Christchurch on Jetstar flight JQ225 arriving at 8am on 10 March.  The woman travelled to Queenstown by private rental vehicle.

The woman was unwell and hospitalised for one night. She is now recovering well and being discharged. She will recover in self isolation and will be monitored daily by health services.

Contact tracing on flights has been changed to be the two seats in all directions: front, back, both sides and diagonal.  This is supported by current evidence and is in line with the same approach taken by European authorities.

In both instances public health staff are conducting contact tracing and requesting close contacts stay in self isolation for 14 days from the date of potential exposure.

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.

The fact both of today’s cases relate to overseas visitors from countries previously outside the travel restrictions reinforces our wider border restrictions announced yesterday.

COVID-19 is now present in over 100 countries, many of which have community outbreaks. Reducing the flow of people coming into New Zealand, and ensuring those who do still come immediately self-isolate are essential frontline tools to limit the risk of wider outbreaks here.

New Zealand now has eight confirmed cases based on positive test results and two probable cases. The two patients previously in hospital – one confirmed case and one probable case, are now recovering at home with daily checks by health staff.

Close contacts of the confirmed cases in self isolation are being monitored daily by health staff.

Three passengers aboard the Golden Princess cruise berthed at Akaroa today have been quarantined and are being tested for COVID-19. Two of the three people have been identified as close contacts of a confirmed case.

One of the three has developed symptoms of COVID-19 and is being treated as a suspected case.  This person is being tested today with results expected tomorrow.

All on board are not being allowed off the ship until results are known.

I would like to again thank the more than 6,700 New Zealanders who have already completed self-isolation.

We’re working to scale up our support for the increased numbers who will be in self-isolation and ensuring they have adequate support and information to ensure it is conducted successfully and safely.

The evidence to date is that it self-isolation has been a success, as there have been no cases outside of immediate family members of those who have bought COVID-19 into the country and wider community spread relating to them has been averted.

I would like to reiterate again that we all have a role in keeping out COVID-19, stamping it out and slowing the progression of COVID-19 in New Zealand.  A fundamental part of this is not going to work or going to places where there are other people if you are sick or even starting to feel sick.

These steps remain critical to New Zealand’s response to COVID-19.

The Ministry’s advice for the public remains the same.  Anyone feeling unwell should ring Healthline on the dedicated COVID-19 number: 0800 358 5453 or ring ahead to their General Practice and they’ll be advised what to do.

Healthline continues to be very busy and coping with more than double the usual number of calls and continues to ensure it has the resources to manage.

Planning is underway for scaling up the country’s ability to contact trace individuals exposed to others with COVID-19.  These measures remain critical to limit the risk of spread.

New Zealand will continue to see isolated cases.   Close contacts of any cases will be contacted, provided with advice and put in monitored self-isolation as recommended by the World Health Organization to limit the risk of spread in the community.

With regard to concerts and other large gatherings we have coming up, the Ministry’s advice is to please stay home if you’re unwell and that organisers of any gatherings should assess any public health risks before continuing with the event.

Media contact: Peter Abernethy 021 366 111

MIL OSI