New Zealand's two new cases of Covid-19 are not yet reasons to ring the alarm bell, a leading health expert says.

University of Otago epidemiologist Michael Baker has, however, called for the Government to boost the use of face masks among staff and travellers coming into New Zealand airports as an extra safety measure.

Two British women - aged in their 30s and 40s from the same family - were today revealed to have tested positive to coronavirus after recently travelling into New Zealand.

The women had been in managed isolation from their arrival in New Zealand on June 7.

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The two women had initially been in managed isolation in the Novotel at Ellerslie. Photo / Dean Purcell
The two women had initially been in managed isolation in the Novotel at Ellerslie. Photo / Dean Purcell

However, they were then given a compassionate exemption to visit a relative and permitted to leave Auckland to travel to Wellington on June 13 in a private vehicle.

Baker said it seemed the women were well-known to health authorities and had appeared to have been following careful processes to limit the risk of infecting others.

He said for the moment we could only rely on the limited details provided by director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield about the cases.

"This is very different from having cases in the community that appear unexpectedly," he said.

"This definitely puts us in the more manageable end of the spectrum, so we just have to wait for more details about what the women did and who they may have come into contact with."

Bloomfield said a Wellington resident, at whose property the two women were staying, was being treated as the only close contact of the two women.

Other potential contacts include those on the same flight from Brisbane, and those in the same managed isolation facility in Auckland, including staff.

Mobile swabbing teams had already been sent to the hotel. Staff there will be stood down and tested, Bloomfield said.

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Footage was also being looked at when the women moved through the airport, and any staff who came into contact with the women will also be stood down and tested.

Baker said a key question about the risk the women posed to the country would be their use of face masks.

"Were these women wearing face masks throughout the entire journey on the flight, through border security and at all points after that because that is a key form of protection.

"Because New Zealand seems to be quite out of step with other countries around mask use.

"Certainly around all travel into the country of people who may be infection in their time here."

Baker said he would feel much more comfortable if all staff in airports dealing with international arrivals wore masks.

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"In most countries it would be mandatory to wear face masks on aircraft, in border and quarantine facilities, and where people are allowed to leave such facilities before their quarantine period has been completed," he said.

Security outside the Novotel at Ellerslie that is used to quarantine people entering New Zealand from overseas due to Covid-19 restrictions. Photo / Dean Purcell
Security outside the Novotel at Ellerslie that is used to quarantine people entering New Zealand from overseas due to Covid-19 restrictions. Photo / Dean Purcell

"Mask use provides an important additional line of defence that New Zealand should be using."

University of Canterbury associate professor Arindam Basu said the two new cases were an important reminder about the need to be vigilant.

"The fact that the one of them was 'symptom-free' highlights the need for being cautious about asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic people," he said.

"Overall, risks of new infections emerging within the community and emergence of clusters still remain low."

"This is a reminder that the pandemic is not over and none of us are safe until all of us are safe."

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"So, hand washing, cough hygiene, and as far as practicable, maintaining safe distance and wearing a mask when attending large gatherings and in public transport are useful."