Coronavirus Update – 21 April

21 April 2020

Kia ora e te whanau


We hope that Term 2 and our online learning programme has been a success for you so far. We know there will have been challenges for you to deal with, but we have been getting some great feedback about the learning that is happening and thank you for all your support. I would like to thank all staff/kaimahi and taiohi/students for their great commitment to learning and adapting to our situation as it changes. Thank you so much for advising of any issues experienced so that we can help taiohi/students get positively connected with their lessons. Whatever the reason, it is vital we know so we can help.

Click here to read more…

10 April 2020

Kia ora e te whānau,

I hope this message finds you and your whānau fit and well and are spending quality time with each other over the Easter break, before we prepare for the start of Term 2. We appreciate all the support by whanau to get into regular learning routines again, helping to supervise learning and ensure online safety.


Currently the COVID-19 Alert Level 4 is due to remain in place until Thursday 23 April with any decision to change that expected on Monday 20 April. Schools and kura will be open for instruction from Wednesday 15 April with the teaching and learning taking place remotely. The Ministry of Education updated schools yesterday evening. We are including relevant information within this pānui, along with the plans we have made to date, hence the timing of this update.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Kaiako / teachers for all their work on the Online Learning Plan for Thames High. We also appreciate the support that we have received from whānau during these challenging times.

As always we will follow Government advice on what happens beyond the next two weeks. The Ministry of Education has indicated that once a decision on whether or not the Alert Level will change they will give some guidance as to what Alert Level 3 will require. We will always update you as soon as we know what the implications are for our school and community.  What we do know is that any transition to Level 3 is not expected to be immediate, allowing time to prepare the school for any return.

Accessing learning

Over the last couple of weeks we have helped the Ministry of Education to gather information about those students needing a device or internet access. We have been advised that provision of available school devices is the first option, and will be in contact once we have a confirmed plan. Other options are to supplement the hardcopy resources that some taiohi / students were provided with other materials that the Ministry has provided. If circumstances have changed from what we knew at the end of Term One (and you haven’t yet contacted us), please make contact with Carolyn Green (contact details below).

Online Learning Plan

We have updated the guidelines taiohi/students for how the online learning will happen commencing Wednesday 15 April. Please follow this link to our Online Learning page on our website.

As for normal schooling we need to monitor attendance and progress with the learning / lessons that have been put in place. This includes that we ask you to follow normal processes should taiohi / students become unwell and unable to complete school work. Each Kaiako/ teacher will have a tracking sheet for every class to monitor that taiohi/students are going online and attempting to do the work. We will be in contact if this is not happening in order to work together to find a solution. We appreciate early contact with our Attendance Officer ( and/or Kaitiaki / Deans to advise of any issues or ways we can support learning from home. Please refer to contact details on our website.

We will also have learning support staff available to give more help to those taiohi/students who are experiencing any difficulties with the work. The Online Learning page has some links to ways to access support if you have concerns about wellbeing. Our School Counsellor, Susan McInnes, is also available to provide confidential support; please contact at

If you have any suggestions, questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact one of the Senior Leadership Team.

Matua Michael Hart at
Whaea Maria at
Natalie O’Neil at
Carolyn Green at
Sharyn Baker at

On behalf of the Senior Leadership Team we wish you a safe and happy Easter.

Some valuable links

Ngā mihi
Whaea Maria Baird
Acting Tumuaki

Friday 27 March

Kia ora koutou

We have started into a new phase of New Zealand’s response to COVID-19 and it is very different than anything most of us have ever experienced.  I wanted to reassure you that our school staff and Board of Trustees will continue to be available to support your child’s learning and wellbeing in the next weeks. 

You will understand the importance of routine for your family. If your routine has been shaken up, like you’re now working from home, it’s good to structure your time. Routines are reassuring, and promote health and physical wellbeing. The below timetable (targeted at children) could be something your household adapts to use over the next weeks. A school holiday version will likely look a little different, but some form of routine will still be important as we go through the lockdown period.

Daily Schedule

Before 9:00am Wake up Eat breakfast, make your bed, get dressed, put any dirty clothes in the laundry
9:00-10:00 Morning walk Family walk with the dog, bike ride,
Yoga if it’s raining
10:00-11:00 Learning at home School-led learning or Sudoku, books, flash cards, study guide, journal etc
11:00-12:00 Creative time Lego, magnatiles, drawing, crafting, play music, cook or bake etc.
12:00 pm Lunch :)
12:30 Helping at home # wipe all kitchen tables and chairs
# wipe all door handles, light switches and desk tops
# wipe both bathrooms – sinks and toilets
1:00-2:30 Quiet time Reading, puzzles, nap, radio NZ stories
2:30-4:00 Learning at home School-led learning or iPad games, Prodigy, Educational show
4:00-5:00 Afternoon fresh air Bikes, walk the dog, play outside
5:00-6:00 Dinner :)
6:00-8:00 Free TV time Kids shower time
8:00 Bedtime All kids
9:00pm Bedtime All kids who follow the daily schedule & don’t fight

*Adapted from a resource developed by Jessica McHale Photography

There are links below to more wellbeing information to support your family during the lockdown.

Some good news to support you either working at home and/or studying at home – Spark, Vodafone, Vocus/Slingshot, 2Degrees and Trustpower have all advised they have removed their data caps and the possibility of any extra charges based on usage.

For our Pacific families, if you are not aware the Ministry for Pacific Peoples’ has been working to ensure useful information is available to Pacific peoples. A one-hour special will be aired on Tagata Pasifika’s segment on Saturday at 9am; and on Sunday at 7.35am, Tagata Pasifika will share messages from community leaders. The Ministry is asking you to reach out to all your family members, community groups, friends and group chats to ensure our Pacific community groups are watching the programming on both days.

A big thank you to all of you for taking the lockdown so seriously. As the Prime Minister has noted staying at home will break the chain and save lives; breaking the rules could risk someone close to you and if the rules are not complied with, this could risk the lock down period being extended or could risk the virus being spread to thousands.

Information and resources to support wellbeing and support learning at home

Update on the provision of home-based supervision and care for the children (aged 0-14 years) of essential workers

As advised in yesterday’s Bulletin, the Government has agreed that three large home-based providers (Barnardos, Edubase and PORSE) will provide additional support to essential service workers, where workers are not able to make their own arrangements. These providers have national coverage.

The level of demand from essential service workers is not yet clear and we are exploring all options to make sure that essential service workers can do the important work necessary. In particular we are working with the wider network of home-based providers to identify additional carers in areas of high demand.

Essential workers should still continue to contact one of the following three providers if they have been unable to make their own arrangements:

Please feel free to contact any of the senior leadership team if you have any queries.

Whaea Maria Baird –
Natalie O’Neil –
Carolyn Green –
Sharyn Baker –

Remember, Be Kind, Be Safe, Be Inside


Kia Kaha,
He waka eke noa

Ngā mihi
Whaea Maria Baird

COVID-19 update Monday 23 March

Thank you to all of you who have shown considerable leadership in the last few weeks.
This is an unprecedented event, and will continue to challenge us all.
I iterate the words of the Prime Minister – be kind, keep safe, and look after each other.
I look forward to working with you and those staff who are interested in developing our distance learning options.
We apologise sincerely for the delays in getting this information to you. We have been working with a range of agencies to be able to provide the following information.

Government announcement – moving to Alert Level 3 for 48 hours and then Level 4

The Prime Minister has today announced we are moving to Level 3 for the next 48 hours and then from Thursday 26 March we move to Level 4 in the COVID-19 Alert Level structure for a further period of 4 weeks where people are instructed to stay at home.
For Tuesday and Wednesday, the expectations are that teachers will come to work to teach the children of essential workers, including children of teachers, and to prepare online work.
They will not be able to access the school site from midnight Wednesday and will work from home. Those staff already identified as over 70 and/or vulnerable to COVID-19 should remain at home but can work from home as needed.
Schools will be open for Tuesday and Wednesday this week for children of essential workers. Please ensure you continue to support good hygiene practices with these students and also undertake physical distancing.

All other children will be at home. You will need to provide them with learning opportunities there to the greatest extent practicable. This could be either as a pack of materials, or for those with online learning already in place, implement your online learning programme.
The Ministry will be working over the next few weeks to provide support for distance learning. We would be pleased to connect with teachers interested in working with us.
Depending on how many children of essential workers arrive at school tomorrow morning, you may want to work with a neighbouring school to support their learning.
The exceptions to this are those schools where there is a case of Covid-19 that affects them. They will remain closed for a defined period based on health advice and which includes children of essential workers.
Essential workers
A list of essential businesses can be found here –
School holidays brought forward
School holidays are being brought forward so that they are completed within the 4 week period. Holidays will now begin from Monday 30 March to Tuesday 14 April inclusive (a reminder that the Tuesday after Easter Monday is always a closed day for schools).
At the end of the school holidays, schools will be open for distance learning but not physically open for staff to work at the schools.
Please note the instruction to stay home (Alert Level 4) will continue beyond the new school holiday period but schools will be technically open for distance instruction. Teachers will be working offsite.

Supporting learning from home
We are asking that where possible you put together small packs for your learners. Packs could include reading material and familiar activities for your learners. Where eLearning is established ensure your learners have passwords and access to the things they need.
Today we have launched Learning from home and Ki te Ao Mārama, two new websites to support teachers, learners, parents and whānau so that learning for children and young people can continue.
The websites include resources for parents and whānau, teachers and leaders. Resources span the learning pathway from early learning through to senior secondary, and more resources will be added as they’re developed.
The information and resources are available at and
More resources will be added as they’re developed. Hard copy packs are being prepared for learners and whānau who don’t have connectivity at home.
The website will help you to get through the next few days as we move to remote learning. This will help you and your staff to get ready, support you to be working from home, and maintain wellbeing.
Over the next two to three weeks we will be working on next steps to support distance learning where it is most needed and as part of contingency planning in case the 4 week period is further extended.
We are working to establish online learning and distance learning options to support all children’s ongoing learning. These will be made available by the end of the school holidays.
Children with special needs
Ministry staff will be available to ring and Skype with families who require assistance with children who have special needs.
Residential special schools
Please continue to house and support those students who are not able to safely return home.
International students
Many of you will have international students who are in Homestay or Hostel accommodation. Please continue to house and support those students.
School hostels
For students who are not able to go home please make arrangements for them to be cared for in the hostel. Host families may be required for international students.
You will need to consider available staff, and others you may be able to call on to cover supervision and other essential services. If you have staff who are included in the vulnerable category and therefore are struggling to maintain adequate staffing levels, the Ministry is able to provide funding to support additional relief staffing to help keep your hostel open.  Please contact the Resourcing Contact Centre at about how to apply.
School transport

  • All school buses and SESTA mobility services will run as normal on Tuesday 24 and Wednesday 25 March but only for students of parents working in to provide those workers with time to make arrangements for their children
  • After Wednesday, no school transport will operate as schools will be closed until further notice.


23 March 3pm

Kia ora koutou

You may have heard the PM’s latest announcement at 2 pm. today. Please note the following:

  • School will be closed as from tomorrow for all students apart from those children whose parents are in essential services. This is to allow extra time to find alternative arrangements as from midnight Wednesday all schools will be in total lockdown and we will no longer be able to provide this service for the next 4 weeks.
  • If you are in any of the listed essential services, please e-mail immediately should you require school supervision for your children.
  • We will give the community an update later this evening once we have received and processed information from the MOE and MOH.
  • We will update our facebook page and website.

Please take vigilant care of yourselves and your families over this period. And remember Kia Kaha – be kind, we will be ok.

He waka eke noa – we are in this together.

Whaea Maria Baird

COVID-19 Update 19 March

Kia ora koutou
Rules on gatherings do not apply to schools

You may have seen today that the Government has announced that indoor gatherings of more than 100 people are to be cancelled. This does not apply to schools, early learning services, tertiary providers, workplaces, supermarkets or public transport. We will continue to provide you with guidance around events and gatherings that could be relevant to schools

Why a school would close
There is a lot of discussion about school closures in the media with many varying opinions being expressed and some misinformation being deliberately spread.
At the time of writing we have already seen one temporary closure following direction from a Medical Officer of Health.  This was following confirmation that one student had been tested positive for COVID-19. That student is self-isolating and all their close contacts (150 students and staff) have been tested for the virus. It has just been announced that all of those tests have come back negative.
The school will reopen next week however those 150 students and staff will remain away from the school for a period of 14 days from when they last had contact with the student confirmed with the virus. This is a precaution only, to keep those people and those around them safe

Medical Officers of Health – will direct schools to close if needed
Medical Officers of Health have the authority to close a school. They would only do so if there was a medical reason for this, or, after a confirmed case in the school they need to close it for a short period of time while they determine if there is any risk to others (which means staff and students stay away while they undertake contact tracing)

If you have a confirmed case in your school, or your school community
If there was a confirmed case linked with your school, you will be quickly advised of that by the Medical Officer of Health.
Our regional Ministry of Education staff will work with you and local health authorities to agree a plan for the school. That will happen quickly and support will be provided to assist you to communicate with and support your parent community. Closure for a short period of time is one option for the Medical Officer of Health

Decision tool for early learning and school responses to COVID-19
The Ministry is working with other government agencies to align our planning for a range of possible scenarios relating to schools and early learning services. An overview of our decision tool is available here for your information [DOCX].  This tool tells you what will happen in different situations.
We have seen this in practice already. An example for Level 1 was Westlake Girls High School, where a students’ parents were both confirmed with the virus but the student had no symptoms (and continues to have no symptoms). An example of Level 2 is Logan Park High School, where a student has tested positive for COVID-19.
You will see that higher levels of risk also have plans in place, which could include school closures for longer periods of time. Most of the scenarios at these higher risk levels relate to community transmission. Community transmission is when a confirmed case had no known contact with another confirmed case, and hasn’t recently arrived from overseas. There is currently no community transmission in New Zealand

When is sick, sick?
The messaging remains clear – that if you are feeling unwell please stay home, and the same goes for children and young people.  However at the tail end of a cold, there will be runny noses and probably some coughing. This might be worrying for some people who are being vigilant about their own and others’ health.
A diagram has been developed by Dr Siouxsie Wiles to assist you when considering symptoms (sent to us by a teacher who found it useful). What it tells us is:

  • A dry cough and a high temperature are common to both flu and COVID-19
  • Sneezing is not a symptom of COVID-19, however if someone has COVID-19, then sneezing can spread droplets containing the virus

COVID-19 update 18 March

You will be aware the Ministry of Health’s Director-General has confirmed a case of COVID-19 in a Dunedin school following a student testing positive for coronavirus.

On advice from the Southern District Health Board the school will now remain closed until Tuesday (Monday being Otago Anniversary Day). Close contacts have been identified and are being tested for the virus. The letter to the community from SDHB provides further information

The Ministries of Education and Health are working closely with Public Health services in Dunedin and the school leadership to help minimise disruption, progress contact tracing and reduce the possibility of spread.

Reminder – schools remain open

At this stage, we are not expecting widespread school closures. We are planning for temporary closures, like what is happening at Logan Park School but as the World Health Organisation has confirmed, the risk to children remains low and parents should continue to send their kids to schools and early learning centres.

Consequently any decisions about school closures will be made on a case by case basis. In the meantime, unless students are unwell themselves, then parents should keep sending them to schools and early learning centres as these environments continue to be safe and the best place for them to continue their learning.

Talking to children and young people about COVID-19

Given the rise in the number of reported cases, there may be children or young people in your life who experience distress. As a trusted adult, you can help reassure and educate them about COVID-19 – it can be good to talk to them now, so they can understand the illness and be reassured.

A useful resource for parents, caregivers, whānau and teachers talking about the virus with children and young people can be found here

This can also be downloaded as an information sheet.

Up-to-date information and advice

A reminder that information and advice for students, whānau and the education sector is available here

While the website is being regularly updated with education-related content, the Ministry of Health is the Government agency leading the response to COVID-19

The Secretary for Education joined the Director-General of Health for the Ministry of Health’s COVID 19 update today. You can view that, and all Ministry of Health updates here.



COVID-19 additional update 16 March

As noted in this morning’s Bulletin we wanted to provide further guidance to support your response to COVID-19. The situation is rapidly evolving.

The Government announcement in the weekend requires all arrivals from overseas to self-isolate. This will strongly contribute to “smoothing the curve” in regard to the numbers of cases we do get in New Zealand.

It is important to note we continue to have no confirmed cases in schools or early learning services. The policy decisions being made by Government give us time to plan for future scenarios.

You need to understand the health risks to your students and staff to inform your decisions.

The most likely scenario is if a student or staff member is confirmed with COVID-19, Health may require a school to close for a day or two, to undertake tracking and tracing of close contacts. A reminder that a close contact is generally described as someone who was in near proximity (1.5 metres) of a person confirmed with the virus for 15 or more minutes. For those with compromised immunity that is 2 metres.

As you know, we are talking with all schools to work through the supports that may be needed.

Camps, assemblies and other events
You will be aware that Government will be making announcements about mass gatherings this week.

In the meantime, as you do with all your activities, you will need to take a risk assessment approach for key activities such as assemblies, school camps and travel for sporting and cultural reasons.

You will know that health and safety is paramount when providing opportunities for positive experiences for your children and young people.

As an example for a school camp you will have already identified a serious injury or illness as a risk, and identified how you would respond to that.  In light of COVID-19 you should add the following to your considerations:

  • be aware of the symptoms of COVID-19 (which may be similar to other illnesses in the early stages)
  • the importance of protecting those vulnerable to respiratory illness – do you know who on your staff, in your volunteers and in your student population may be at greater risk?
  • if someone were to become ill with a serious illness, do you have facility to be able to respond to that, including the ability to isolate that person while you seek advice from public health?
  • do you have appropriate personal protective equipment and the ability to clean hard surfaces if someone were to become ill with flu, gastro bug, COVID-19 etc?

If you cannot answer yes to all these questions, you will need to reconsider proceeding with the camp.

For assemblies you need be confident that participants can maintain a safe physical distance from each other. This would be 1.5 metres and for immune compromised people, 2 metres from others. Consider:

  • encouraging good hygiene at all times – hand washing, coughing etiquette etc
  • splitting the assembly where this is an option
  • reducing the number of assemblies
  • thinking about current practices – handshakes, hongi etc –  as noted by the Prime Minister we need to stop these practices

COVID-19 declared a pandemic

12 March

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has now classified COVID-19 as a pandemic. The WHO Director-General when announcing this decision noted “describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this virus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do”.

The Minister of Health clearly reinforced this message stating this doesn’t change anything for New Zealand. He noted our Director-General of Health has been saying since January that COVID-19 is pandemic-like in all but name, and we have been working on that basis.

Border restrictions, a requirement to self-isolate on arrival in New Zealand from China, Iran, Italy and the Republic of Korea and immediate and detailed contact tracing of any confirmed cases have all been put in place to minimise risk to those in New Zealand. It is important to note those four countries account for more than 90% of cases globally and China and the Republic of Korea have significantly declining numbers of new cases.

While we have 5 confirmed cases in New Zealand, it is expected we will have more. However the Ministry of Health says that with continued vigilance the chance of widespread community outbreak is expected to remain low in New Zealand. This has not changed because of the reclassification to pandemic status. We all have a role to play in this.

A reminder about handwashing and good hygiene as well as ensuring people who are sick don’t come to school. It is also important for adults to be sensible about physical distance.

Support for parents’ conversations with their children

We have developed specific guidance for parents to assist them when talking to their children about coronavirus.

You will appreciate the importance of giving children factual, age-appropriate information about COVID-19 so that they can feel informed and in control. The guidance will support parents to have those conversations – Talking to children about coronavirus

You may also have seen two very useful videos you could share with your parent community to help both parents and children better understand the virus:



Coronavirus Update
Friday 28 February

Help us to keep you and everyone else safe
The Prime Minister has announced the first case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in New Zealand (see the full media release at the end of this article). The Ministry of Health has noted that although we have our first case ofCOVID-19, the chances of community outbreak remain low.This case was identified because the person affected and their family did the right thing and got in touch with health authorities.This is a good wake up call.  New Zealand has been free of the virus to date, but we knew that would not last. For now this doesn’t affect what you already are doing and the plans you and health authorities have in place. Continue to reinforce messages about hygiene practices. Practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene is the best defence:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water before and after eating as well as after attending the toilet
  • cover coughs and sneezes with clean tissues or your elbow
  • put used tissues in the bin.

Encourage staff and students to stay home if unwell.

We are still focused on keeping it out, and now stomping it out through track, trace and contain. It’s important we all continue to be alert but not alarmed.

Updated information from Health
As announced this week by the Ministry of Health, there are now two categories for travellers arriving in New Zealand:

  • Category 1 – People who have travelled from or transited through countries in category one in the last 14 days are required to self-isolate for 14 days and contact Healthline after they have left the countries. Mainland China and Iran are the two countries included in this category (with Iran added to this category on Friday 28 February).
  • Category 2 – People who have travelled from or via countries lists in category two who develop symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath should seek medical advice by first phoning Healthline’s dedicated COVID-19 number 0800 358 5453 or contacting their GP including phoning ahead of their visit.

As at Friday 28 February countries in this category are Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore and Thailand.

Anyone who has travelled from or transited through any of the countries listed in both categories with clinically compatible symptoms should be considered a suspect of COVID-19 case and testing performed.

What you need to do
For you, this new information from Health should not change significantly how you are currently supporting the health and wellbeing in your school or early learning service community.

For any children, students or staff who have recently returned from Iran or China, they will need to go into a stay away period of 14 days (from when they left Iran or China).

Please continue to encourage anyone who is not well, to not attend your school or early learning service and to seek medical advice.

If you are concerned that someone is showing symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath, encourage them to first ring Healthline (0800 358 5453) or contact their GP by phoning ahead of their visit to explain symptoms and travel history.

If you have any concerns about the possibility that someone does have a communicable disease, your first step is to contact your local district health board for advice and support. Contact details for specific DHBs can be found here. If the individual with a suspected case is still in your school or service, isolate them from others, until you have received medical advice.

We encourage you to keep updated about the status of COVID-19 on the Ministry of Health website.

What to do if someone is confirmed with a case of the virus
We have had some questions on what schools should do if anyone in their school is diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.

COVID-19 is a notifiable disease. As with other notifiable diseases, should a case be confirmed in your school your local Medical Officer of Health will take the lead. You will be notified about this by the Ministry of Health through your local district health board/public health unit.

If a case is confirmed in your school, you may be asked to:

  • work with Health to undertake contact tracing (for those that may have been in close contact with the confirmed case)
  • support Health to send communications out to your community or to those who may have been in close contact
  • undertake a clean of the spaces the person has occupied – our cleaning guidance will assist with you this process
  • follow any other directions by Health, which may include school closure for a period of time.

You may also like to consider:

  • how you support any student or staff member that has been confirmed with the virus, and any that are self-isolating by keeping in contact and if possible supporting any student with learning from home
  • providing clear messaging to your community that you have implemented your pandemic plan/or other protocol and are following advice from Health
  • thinking about any staff or students who are susceptible to illness and put your management plans in place
  • reinforcing messages about hygiene practices. Practising good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene is the best defence:
    • wash your hands often with soap and water before and after eating as well as after attending the toilet
    • cover coughs and sneezes with clean tissues or your elbow
    • put used tissues in the bin
    • encourage staff and students to stay home if unwell.

Pandemic Planning
This is a good opportunity to continue to sharpen and refine your pandemic planning. Please refer to our website for more information on this

If you are unsure where to start with reviewing your pandemic plan:

  • have a read through the quick guide to pandemic planning (on our website and also available as a Factsheet)
  • more detail to support your planning can be found in the full Pandemic Planning Guide. While the guide is primarily focused on influenza, there is some commonality with the coronavirus and therefore is an appropriate resource
  • there is also a pandemic template in the Emergency Management Plan that you can use if needed.

Exemptions for tertiary international students
On the advice of health officials, the government has announced it will not at this stage be implementing an exemption from travel restrictions for students in China who had intended to study in New Zealand. You will appreciate the health and wellbeing of people in New Zealand and the Pacific is paramount in making any decisions related to the virus.

Summary of key information
We are aware there has been lots of information provided over the last month to support you in managing your response to the coronavirus. Our main page to support you with information can be found here. The following summary will also assist you with quick links to navigate this more easily:

Recently added to the website

Planning for a pandemic

Managing your response

Supporting international students

Other key websites for information relating to COVID-19 include:

Media Release

Single case of COVID-19 confirmed in New Zealand

Date: 28 February 2020
The first case of COVID-19 is now confirmed in New Zealand in a person in their 60s recently returned from Iran.

The results of the test were formally reported to the Ministry at around 4.15pm this afternoon.
Although we have our first case of COVID-19, the chances of community outbreak remain low.
The Ministry of Health is confident the public risk from this new infection is being well managed because of the public messaging, awareness of COVID-19 disease and our public health response to managing cases and contacts.

The patient confirmed with COVID-19 is being treated in Auckland City Hospital. They are in an improving condition in isolation, in a negative pressure room to prevent any spread of the disease.

Household contacts are in isolation as a precautionary measure. Public health officials have begun tracing the patient’s other close contacts to ensure appropriate protection measures are in place, including on the flight involved which originated in Tehran and came via Bali.

Anyone who was on the final leg of the flight, Emirates EK450 arriving Auckland on Wednesday 26 February, and is concerned should contact the COVID-19 Healthline number 0800 358 5453.

The person arrived in Auckland on 26 February and travelled home in a private car. 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.

Two earlier tests were negative for COVID-19.  A further test today using a more specific sample proved positive.

Contact tracing has started and close contacts are in isolation. Other close family contacts will also now be tested for COVID-19.

Hospital staff involved in the patient’s care are using with appropriate personal protection. District health boards have been preparing for managing cases of COVID-19.

The overall situation regarding COVID-19 internationally remains rapidly evolving with a high degree of uncertainty and we continue to recommend a precautionary approach.

New Zealand is the 48th country to have a confirmed case of COVID-19.

It is critically important that we both protect New Zealanders from the virus and play our part in the global effort to contain it.

The Ministry of Health’s assessment remains that there is a high likelihood of sporadic cases.

Keeping individuals, families and our communities safe and healthy in the current global environment requires a team effort and that’s what we’re seeing across New Zealand.

Healthline’s dedicated COVID-19 number, 0800 358 5453, is free and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Border restrictions remain in place for anyone who has been to or through mainland China or Iran in the past 14 days.

The Ministry’s expert advisory group yesterday revised the advice to health professionals about identifying possible cases of COVID-19 by adding Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Singapore and Thailand as countries and territories of concern when assessing patients.

Anyone arriving in NZ who has visited those countries in the previous 14 days is advised if they develop symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath they should seek medical advice by first phoning Healthline’s dedicated COVID-19 number 0800 358 5453 or phone ahead to their GP before their visit.