A Northland woman recently returned from Australia has tested positive for Covid-19, bringing the number of cases in Northland to two.

She was among 14 new cases of Covid-19 confirmed in New Zealand by Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield yesterday. The total number of cases in New Zealand is now 66.

The Northlander, in her 40s, flew from Melbourne to Auckland on flight JQ217 on Sunday March 15.

"All these cases are in self isolation, with close contacts being identified, followed up, placed in self isolation and then regularly monitored," Bloomfield said.


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Northland's first case of coronavirus was announced last week - a man in his 20s who flew from Paris to Abu Dhabi, to Sydney, and then to Auckland.

The announcement comes as parents around the country have decided not to send their children to school.

Whangārei mum Nikita Keith has kept her 13-year-old son, a student at Whangārei Boys' High School, and her 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter, students at Whangārei Primary School, off school since Monday, March 9, and believes she should not be scrutinised for her choices.

She has also removed her 3-year-old from daycare.

"My decision to keep my kids home from school is for their safety and mine and my husband's," she said.

"It is a very difficult decision for me."

Keith said the decision came after her youngest son came home with a tummy bug which then rippled through all eight people living in her house.


She took several things into consideration when deciding not to send her kids to school; her husband - who changed jobs six weeks ago - is the sole provider for the home so if he gets sick they have no support, her 7-year-old son has restless leg syndrome which affects his immune system and makes him susceptible to bugs, and her youngest son has dwarfism and a shunt so she was concerned about him too.

She said she would review her decision after the approaching term holidays.

"I feel if parents are in a position to keep their children home without making significant changes to their life, then they should do that.

"They should have the option of doing that without being scrutinised ... it also reduces the number of children at school."

Focus: How to stop the spread of coronavirus. Video / AP / Mark Mitchell

A spokeswoman from the Ministry of Education said schools will already have a plan in place to support any child or staff member with health conditions, and encouraged parents to talk to schools.

"The safety and wellbeing of learners is of the utmost importance to all; and schools, kura and early learning services will make informed decisions in the best interest of their children and young people," she said.


Keith said she emailed Whangārei Boys' High School principal Karen Gilbert-Smith and received a "fair" email in which Gilbert-Smith acknowledged Keith's challenges.

But she also received a call from a dean which she felt put pressure on her.

"Under any other circumstances it would be unacceptable [to keep kids home]. But in this instance, in my family it is a domino effect and it doesn't just take one, it takes all," she said.

Keith also sent the same email to Whangārei Primary School. She said other than receiving texts from the school, she has only had one phone call.

She said her comments were not criticism of the schools - which she said are "great" - and understood they were required to follow up by law.

But she said she does not want to feel "backed in to a corner".


"I honestly feel I have to make excuses for my kids to stay at home," she said.

Gilbert-Smith said WBHS was getting updates from the ministry with "solid advice".

She said several parents had been in contact with the school, including those who had children with health issues, and had therefore kept the boys home.

"I have no criticism whatsoever about that. In these times everyone has to do whatever is right for their own families first and where we can support that we will with individualised work.

"But we're also doing a bit more planning around if the school does close for any longer period of time than a couple of days we can continue on an online platform."

Whangārei Primary School principal Danny Jewell did not wish to comment.


Meanwhile, Northland leaders are calling for calm after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a new alert system to fight Covid-19. New Zealand was last night at alert level two.

Whangārei mayor Sheryl Mai accepted this time would be a very anxious one for Northland's elderly population and encouraged younger people in the community to stay connected with elderly family, friends and neighbours.

Far North mayor John Carter said Ardern's announcement was the right step and communities needed to be vigilant.

"It is important that people don't panic, that they are sensible in how they approach the issue and provided we all work together, we as a region and as a nation will get through this with minimal casualties," he said.