The Ministry of Health has confirmed that a patient with coronavirus is being treated at Auckland Hospital and that they had to be tested three times before returning a positive result.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said: "As the gateway to New Zealand, a case of the coronavirus in Auckland was close to inevitable and health authorities are well prepared to handle it.

"The Ministry of Health advises that the patient is being treated in a negative pressure room to prevent the virus from spreading, and people who were in immediate contact with the patient are also in isolation.

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"The ministry has said the risk of a community outbreak remains low, and a pandemic plan is in place to manage the situation.

"Health authorities are closely monitoring the situation in line with World Health Organisation guidance and I encourage Aucklanders to remain calm. The ministry will advise if any public health measures become necessary," Goff said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed the news speaking to media in Sydney today.

The person is aged in their 60s and arrived in New Zealand on Wednesday on Emirates flight EK450 from Tehran, via Bali.

"Their family became concerned about their condition and called Healthline.

"They were advised to seek medical attention and attended Auckland City Hospital emergency department that same day. All were wearing masks on arrival. As a result of the individual's symptoms and travel history they were admitted and tested."

A Ministry of Health spokesman said, "The person arrived in Auckland on February 26 and travelled home in a private car."

The person had to best tested three times before showing a positive result. Photo / Doug Sherring
The person had to best tested three times before showing a positive result. Photo / Doug Sherring

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said they were formally notified about the case at 4.15pm, saying they had been preparing for some weeks and were ready.


The person, who had travelled to Iran some weeks ago to visit family, had a cough and difficulty breathing.

Bloomfield said the clinicians had suspicions this was coronavirus which is why they took further samples after two negative tests.

When asked why the first two tests were negative, he said they were from a throat sample.

The symptoms of a lung infection were present though so a third test was done.

The person is in a stable condition.

Bloomfield said the chance of a community outbreak remains low at this point.

"We are now asking New Zealanders who have returned from Iran in the last 14 days to self-isolate and register with Healthline.

"We have a family that has done exactly the right thing."

Bloomfield said they won't be retesting other people because this is the first case where the person's symptoms matched the virus, hence the third test but will be offering tests to the person's family.

Health officials have been contacting people in the same row as the individual or two rows ahead or behind on the flight to New Zealand and they will be contacted by public health and have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Authorities will also be contacting flight crew who were in the cabin.

When asked the likelihood it has already been transmitted to others, Bloomfield said the person had worn a mask during the flight so it was unlikely.

Other people from the flight could be across New Zealand at this point, he said.

Bloomfield said anyone who has symptoms and has been in a country with the virus should not turn up at their local GP but phone ahead so the surgery can take the right precautions.

The person infected travelled on a New Zealand passport. It's not clear if they went through E-passport or saw someone through customs.

Officials will now scale up presence at the airport and people will receive information about what to do if they become unwell.

Minister of Health David Clark said the infected person followed all the right steps after arriving home and feeling sick.

Anyone who is concerned should contact the dedicated Healthline number 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 from international SIMS) which is free and available 24 hours a day.