New Zealand health authorities say they cannot rule out a Kiwi traveller who tested positive for Covid-19 and now in hospital in South Korea was infected in New Zealand.

The Ministry of Health today said they cannot rule out the man became infected in New Zealand before travelling to South Korea last week.

The ministry was now in close contact with South Korea and expecting further information from the authorities later today New Zealand time.

Korean language newspapers are reporting the international traveller in his 20s arrived from New Zealand on July 22 and tested positive on July 23.


He was admitted to Dongsan Hospital immediately for quarantine treatment.

Today the Ministry of Health said the traveller left New Zealand six days ago on July 21 and arrived in South Korea on July 22 after transiting through Singapore.

The traveller had no symptoms but returned a positive test on arrival.

"South Korean authorities have informed us that based on their initial investigations they suspect the traveller was infected during the transit in Singapore airport.

"However other causes, including infection in New Zealand, can't be ruled out at this stage," said the ministry.

It is now actively looking at whether any steps need to be taken here, based on the information available.

The daily Gyeongbuk Newspaper reported he was one of two infected people who arrived in the fourth-largest city of Daegu from overseas, one from the United States and the other from New Zealand.

Both arrived from overseas on July 22 and were tested the next day.


According to one report the man was examined at a walk-through screening clinic in the Dong District.

He was admitted to hospital after testing positive.

The local health authority confirmed there were two new positive cases for the region on July 24, stressing they were not from locally acquired clusters but from overseas.

One news report said the man was a resident of Dalseo-gu, a district of western Daegu.

A translated report said the new confirmed cases were "foreign-influenced".

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health is seeking more information about the traveller and the result.


"We had one similar case before and that turned out to be a false positive," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking today.

"In this case I will be checking in with our health officials but given of course the chance or likelihood that someone could have picked this up in transit or travel, or a number of other factors, it's not something health officials have raised alarm bells with me at this stage, but I will be following up on it this morning."

The man was one of 13 new imported cases in South Korea on Friday, of which three were tested on arrival, and the others while in mandatory self-isolation.

A ministry spokesperson said they had been advised of the case by South Korean health authorities, and were following up.

The Korean Centres of Disease Control and Prevention said it was presumed the person caught the virus while in New Zealand, but under what circumstances is not known at this point.

While there was not a direct flight from New Zealand to South Korea on July 21, there was one flying from Auckland via Narita Airport in Tokyo to Seoul.

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