A worker at Auckland airport is believed to have contracted COVID-19 from a passenger who arrived in New Zealand on an international flight more than a week ago.
Results from genome sequencing overnight showed a match between the strain of COVID-19 the airport worker contracted and a passenger who arrived into Auckland from a ‘red zone’ country on April 10 while infectious.
Minister for the COVID-19 response Chris Hipkins revealed the details this morning.
The country and variant of the virus was not yet been released.
Officials previously said the worker did not have face-to-face contact with passengers and may have contracted the virus from cleaning planes.
The worker returned a negative result two days after the passenger arrived but was found to be positive by a test on Monday, nine days later.
The positive case came just a day after a quarantine-free travel bubble across the Tasman opened.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she did not expect the case to shut down the new travel arrangement with Australia.
No delay expected for Hobert-New Zealand flights
Public health officials in Tasmania said they didn’t expect the first flights between Hobart and New Zealand, scheduled for tomorrow, to be affected by the new coronavirus case.
Tasmania’s director of public health Mark Veitch said state health officials would meet interstate and New Zealand counterparts this afternoon to discuss the latest information from New Zealand.
The first flight in Tasmania’s travel bubble with New Zealand is slated to arrive from Auckland tomorrow morning, with a return flight to New Zealand just after midday.
“Everyone, therefore, knows the case we have and that it’s connected to the border. And these are the kinds of scenarios where we would anticipate moving continuing,” said Ms Adern at a press breifing yesterday.
New Zealand authorities identified 16 close contacts of the infected worker and tested the five people they live with, all of whom had returned negative results.
Extra testing sites have been set up at Auckland airport.
Almost 2,000 people went to New Zealand on the first day of the new travel arrangement, with about 30 flights departing Australia.
While a one-way travel bubble for New Zealand residents to come to Australia has been in operation since October, the reciprocal arrangement for people flying from Australia to New Zealand faced repeated setbacks.