An Air New Zealand flight attendant is believed to have been questioned as part of investigations into how coronavirus arrived in the Bluff wedding reception cluster - the country's biggest.
Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield yesterday said he understood "there were a handful of people who arrived from overseas on preceding days".
But the Ministry of Health has clarified that, telling the Herald that an overseas travel link has been established to just one person who attended the wedding.
"A link to recent overseas travel has been established in one of the confirmed cases in the Bluff cluster and it may still be confirmed in others," a spokesman said.
"Other overseas travel links, which may subsequently be confirmed will add to what we know but are regarded as less important from a public health viewpoint given that the overseas travel link is now already established as the likely source of the cluster."
The spokesman declined to give further details about the confirmed travel link.
An Air New Zealand flight attendant who attended the March 21 wedding told guests he had returned to New Zealand from a work flight from the United States just days before, according to a Herald source who did not want to be named.
He was said to be coughing and - at a gathering of family and guests the next day - was gargling salt water, apparently for a sore throat.
The Herald has learned he went on special leave from his job about March 25.
The bride has said she and her husband learned of the outbreak on March 26 when a guest told them he had tested positive to Covid-19.
The flight attendant has not responded to the Herald's emails requesting comment.
The bride told the Herald she didn't want to discuss the matter. She earlier said no guests came from overseas.
An Air New Zealand spokesman said the cabin crew member did not fall ill until arriving home from the wedding. He had gargled salt water at the Sunday after-party to ease discomfort due to a dental issue.
Air crew are - and were at the time of the wedding - exempt from self-isolating after arriving back from working overseas, as long as they adhere to strict MoH guidelines regarding hygiene and PPE use, the spokesman said.
The bride and groom and many family members have tested positive.
As of yesterday, 86 cases were linked to the Bluff wedding, one more than for the Marist College cluster in Auckland.
A man, aged 80, linked to the wedding cluster, died in Wellington Hospital on Friday.
The wedding was in Invercargill, and the reception was held at Oyster Cove Restaurant and Bar on March 21, before a ban on gatherings of over 100 people was introduced. About 70 guests attended.
The wedding cluster grew rapidly after guests travelled home to various parts of the country with significant numbers testing positive in Wellington and Waikato.
Wedding guest Murray Culbert has said there were no overseas guests at the wedding, but one person had recently travelled for their job.
"We had somebody that came to the wedding that is a cabin crew for an airline. It's a possibility there's no proof of that, but that person has turned out positive as well," he told Newshub.
Culbert, his wife and daughter have contracted the virus.
A separate source, who did want to be named, said the flight attendant told guests he had arrived from the United States.
"He was coughing and spluttering and the day after the wedding he was gargling salt water," the source said. "He should have been self-isolating."
Last week, Southern DHB told the Herald the origin was still under investigation but that status was changed the next day on data posted by the Ministry of Health to "overseas exposure".
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday said overseas travellers presented the biggest ongoing risk.
"Anyone returning home will go into a Government-controlled facility for 14 days. We need to reassure everyone [that those] coming into New Zealand do not pose a risk and at the moment there is no other way but quarantine."
Airline crew, however, are exempt.
An Air NZ spokeswoman said Ministry of Health guidelines were being strictly followed.
"Unless unwell, airline crew who follow the correct precautions are exempt from the requirement to self-isolate.
"During alert level 4 our crew are isolating in their bubbles when not required to work."
In late March, Air New Zealand said eight employees had tested positive but the company has not responded to the Herald's requests to update the number.
All eight had worked on Air New Zealand's long haul fleet, and operated sectors to Los Angeles or London.
Crew are required to wear masks and gloves.
One staffer told the Herald many were unhappy that returning crew from international flights were not routinely stood down for 14 days.
"Are we supposedly superhuman? There is a fear among the crew that they could catch it and be passing it on."
E tū, the union that covers airline staff, has been approached for comment.
Meanwhile, Australia's transport union is demanding to know how many crew have been infected with coronavirus, amid calls for cabin staff to undergo a 14-day quarantine.
Four Qantas crew members who operated a flight from Chile and did not have to go into quarantine have tested positive for coronavirus, raising concerns future international flights could weaken Australia's defences against the pandemic, the Sydney Morning Herald reported last week.
Neither the MOH or Southern DHB would give further information about the Bluff wedding reception index patient.
Announcing the link to international travel, Dr Susan Jack, Medical Officer of Health, Southern DHB, said: "We do not discuss the circumstances of individual cases unless there is a public health reason to do so."
"In this instance we have been able to reach out to the close contacts of all confirmed cases through our contact tracing teams, and are asking those people to remain in self-isolation."