Questions have been raised about the current rules around airline staff not having to quarantine after arriving from overseas - after a flight attendant tested positive for Covid-19.
Leading epidemiologist Michael Baker said officials may need to review those rules; given the latest case is now one of up to three airline staff to have become infected in recent months.
"Perhaps we need to review the process we're using for aircrew just to make sure we think it's sufficient to keep New Zealand safe over the next few months," he told Newstalk ZB.
Air New Zealand yesterday confirmed that its affected crew member had arrived on a flight from Japan on Sunday, February 28.
They were tested for Covid-19 on Saturday and returned a positive result yesterday.
The flight attendant initially underwent some health assessments, a spokeswoman said, but did not need to isolate as Japan is not listed by the Ministry of Health as a "higher-risk route".
Those routes, designated by director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield, are Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Under the current rules, New Zealand-based international aircrew are mostly exempt from the 14-day managed isolation and quarantine period people arriving from overseas currently have to carry out.
Airline staff must undergo a normal health assessment on arrival.
"A suitably qualified health practitioner must be satisfied that the aircrew member is at a low risk of transmitting Covid-19," the Ministry of Health says.
If a staffer is showing any Covid-19 symptoms or the health practitioner checking them is not satisfied for any reason, then that airline crew member will be put into a managed isolation and quarantine facility.
Flight attendants who worked on a higher-risk route have to isolate for 48 hours after touching down in New Zealand, before having a Covid-19 test.
They then have to stay in isolation or quarantine until a negative result is received.
Source of concern
Baker said the fact the staff member had been picked up with a routine test was good news.
But he acknowledged that the lack of isolation on arrival - of airline staff - was worrying.
"Throughout the pandemic, it's always been a source of concern - the fact that we have a very different process for aircrew.
"They have never gone through the standard process that other returning travellers do - which is...14 days in MIQ and two or even three tests now.
"There have been reasons for that. But it's obviously an area of vulnerability."
The latest case also visited the Countdown Auckland Airport, on the corner of George Bolt Memorial Drive and John Goulter Drive in Māngere, last Wednesday afternoon.
Anyone who was in the supermarket - now a location of interest - between 12.07pm and 1.22pm on that day is regarded as a casual contact and is asked to monitor their health until March 17.
"If you begin to feel unwell or develop any Covid-19 symptoms, contact Healthline on 0800 358 5454, get tested and stay at home until a negative test result is received."
The crew member is one of at least three airline staff who have tested positive for the virus, Baker said.
The other two were people who had worked on flights from Shanghai and Los Angeles.
"The interesting thing is the sources were never found for those cases," he said.
"I don't know if the source will be found here."