An Auckland woman who returned from northern Italy last week says she was "surprised" to be told not to self-isolate, especially now given she arrived the day after the woman who went on to become the country's second case of Covid-19.
The early childhood education worker was in the area of Emilia Romagna for a conference, and was there as the Covid-19 outbreak escalated.
"It went from one case, to 20, to a death, very rapidly," said the woman, who asked not to be named for fear of adverse impacts on her profession.
"Pre-schools, schools, universities, museums - they were all closing down, it was pretty scary and I was very happy to get out."
But she was also very aware of the risk she could pose returning to New Zealand, and especially in her profession working around young children.
So when she arrived, flying with Emirates via Dubai, last Wednesday morning, February 26, she immediately phoned Healthline to register herself as in self-isolation.
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Instead, she was told there was no need.
"I was very surprised. The woman on the phone was lovely, but she said I didn't need to, only people returning from China.
"I was insistent, I told her where I had been, the Emilia Romagna region, that there had been an outbreak nearby, and that I worked with young children.
"'No no', the lady kept saying. 'You'll be fine, only people returning from China'."
The woman didn't agree with the advice, and after consulting with colleagues decided to make the decision to self-isolate.
On Wednesday it was confirmed another Auckland woman who'd returned from northern Italy the day before her - February 25 - was the country's second case of Covid-19.
The woman in self-isolation has felt completely fine since returning, but is glad she decided to go against official advice.
"Even though I miss my family and friends and would love to be back at work, when I heard that I knew that I had made the right decision."
Two days after the woman returned to Auckland the Ministry of Health began advising people who felt ill returning from northern Italy to seek medical assistance, and now asks all people who have been in that region in the past 14 days to self-isolate.
"I was just surprised at the lack of knowledge here. I had been in a region of Italy on lockdown, at a conference with people from all around the world - including Japan where there is a major outbreak - just 48 hours prior, and was being told I could go straight back to working with young children. It seemed ridiculous."
In a statement, Andrew Slater, CEO of National Telehealth Service, which runs Healthline, said he could not comment on individual cases.
He said that on the date the woman had called Healthline, the advice was that people returning to New Zealand from northern Italy did not need to self isolate. She was therefore given the correct advice at that time.
"The advice was updated on 2 March, and is now that people who have been in northern Italy (excluding airport transfer) should self-isolate for 14 days after their return.
"We would encourage [the woman] to contact us, register that she's in self-isolation and let us know what support she needs.
"It is an evolving situation and the Healthline team are keeping up to date with developing information."
The third New Zealand case of Covid-19 was confirmed this morning. All three people live in Auckland.
There has been more than 95,000 cases of the virus reported in the world - more than 51,000 have recovered. Just over 3200 people have died.
The latest Ministry of Health travel advice is that anyone who has transited through mainland China, Iran, northern Italy or the Republic of Korea, or have been in close contact with someone confirmed with Covid-19 in the last 14 days self-isolate for 14 days from the date of departure or close contact.
People should also register their details with Healthline by calling 0800 358 5453 or +64 9 358 5453.
Anybody else with specific concerns should phone Healthline or contact their GP, including phoning ahead of any visit.