Winston Peters has claimed the new Covid-19 cluster is linked to a breach in New Zealand's quarantine system.

The Deputy Prime Minister Peters today told Patricia Karvelas of Australia's ABC 24 News he was given the information by a New Zealand journalist, who he said was "usually very reliable".

"It wasn't an official, I found out from somewhere else, but I think there's been a breach inside our quarantine system.

"I think, when that comes out very shortly, in a matter of maybe less than a day, we'll find out that was the case. But you don't always find out from your officials.

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"You don't always find out from the experts. It's something you sort of find out by contact with other people."

Peters added: "I don't know where this quarantine breach may have happened, but I think you can eliminate it being some new strain of Covid-19 that hitherto my country hadn't seen.

"In Melbourne's case, of course, it was - how shall I say it without being too critical? - pretty slack oversight and supervision, where it was put in the hands of private industry, which was a disaster. In our case, we got the army in early enough to know that that wouldn't have been the problem. But there's been a breach, and we'll find out in a matter of hours, or within a day."

A spokesperson for the prime minister's office tonight said they have not seen what Peters had said, but "no connection between managed isolation and these cases has been established at this point".

Thirteen new cases of community transmission were revealed today.

It takes New Zealand's total number of cases in the community to 17, after it was announced on Tuesday that four people from the same family had tested positive.

The new cases are all linked to the original four confirmed cases from an outbreak in South Auckland and are being treated as a cluster.

"What we know about clusters is that they grow," said director general of health Ashley Bloomfield.

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"What is important is that we investigate these cases to their full extent, and that is exactly where people who are coming forward to be tested are helping us."

Winston Peters' full exchange

Patricia Karvelas:

"Your country's top health official, Ashley Bloomfield, says the first case in this outbreak could have been in the community several weeks ago. Does this suggest elimination was really never truly achieved - that it was - sure, you were saying you'd eliminated it, but clearly you hadn't?"

Winston Peters:

"Well, unfortunately, a lot of the conversation and a lot of the narrative is speculation. What we'd like to know is what we should know, and that is the exact details of what happened. And it is possible, with modern science and all the tracing that we've got, to find out what this - what the first origins were. And I could almost tell you right now what I suspect it is, because I've got inside information, but until it's confirmed, I'm not going to say.

Karvelas:

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"You've piqued my interest, obviously, because you're Deputy Prime Minister, I imagine your inside information isn't just innuendo or rumour. Can you give some indication about what those officials are telling you?

Peters:

"It wasn't an official, I found out from somewhere else, but I think there's been a breach inside our quarantine system, and I think, when that comes out very shortly, in a matter of maybe less than a day, we'll find out that was the case.

"But you don't always find out from your officials. You don't always find out from the experts. It's something you sort of find out by contact with other people. I'm not trying to be - trying to avoid your question, but these things are so difficult, and I just heard the New South Wales Premier expert talking - we went hard and we went early, but the question is, did we go hard enough and ensure that the policing, that the scrutiny and the quarantine was as tight as it could have been? And we need to know that.

Karvelas: "Ok. This sounds like what may have happened in Melbourne as well. Are you saying the hotel quarantining is what you understand to be the problem?"

Peters: "No, I don't know where this quarantine breach may have happened, but I think you can eliminate it being some new strain of Covid-19 that hitherto my country hadn't seen.

"In Melbourne's case, of course, it was - how shall I say it without being too critical? - pretty slack oversight and supervision, where it was put in the hands of private industry, which was a disaster. In our case, we got the army in early enough to know that that wouldn't have been the problem. But there's been a breach, and we'll find out in a matter of hours, or within a day."

Karvelas: "Ok. You say you haven't got it from officials but you are, as I say, the Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand, so - who are you getting this information from?"

Peters: "(Laughs) I - I'm beginning to wish I hadn't answered that question."

Karvelas: "I have to ask - who's providing this information about quarantine breaches?"

Peters: "A source that was usually very reliable. Dare I say, it was one of your colleagues."

Karvelas: "An Australian official?"

Peters: "No, no, no - a New Zealand colleague of yours."

Karvelas: "A New Zealand colleague? A journalist?"

Peters: "A journalist, yes."

Karvelas: "So there's a story that's about to break, you're telling me, that there's been a quarantine problem?"

Peters: "No. It won't be breaking, because we want to know - he wants to know, and I want to know, and so do all my colleagues want to know. Are we going to be speaking with factual evidence when we do go public?"