Coronavirus: 3 new COVID-19 cases in New Zealand

The Ministry of Health says there are 3 new COVID-19 cases in New Zealand.

The ministry's Director-General Dr Ashley Bloomfield confirmed the total number of cases is now 11.

Two of the new cases are in a Wellington family who recently returned from the United States, and the third is a Dunedin man who had recently travelled to Germany.

"All these cases are associated with overseas travel," Dr Bloomfield says.

The two new Wellington cases are a man who is in his 30s and his father who is in his 70s. The younger man became unwell on the flight and his father felt ill the following day.

Neither require hospital care and they are both recovering at home.

They travelled on American Airlines flight AA83 from Los Angeles to Auckland, arriving on March 14. They sat in seats 4A and 10H. They then flew to Wellington on flight NZ419 that same day and their seat numbers were 1B and 1C.

The Public Health Unit and Healthline have been contact tracing passengers who were sitting near them on both flights.

Dr Bloomfield says if you were sitting near these seats on either flight but you haven't been contacted, you can call Healthline on 0800 358 5453. There is no need for casual contacts to call Healthline, only those who were in close contact with either passenger.

Coronavirus: 3 new COVID-19 cases in New Zealand
Photo credit: Newshub

The third new case is a Dunedin man in his 40s and he was confirmed to have COVID-19 on Tuesday morning.

It was five days after he returned from Germany that he began to show symptoms, meaning contact tracing for people who were on his flight isn't needed, Dr Bloomfield says.

"He had been in New Zealand for longer than 72 hours before he developed symptoms," he says.

The man has mild flu-like symptoms and is currently self-isolating at his home.

Two of his family members are showing symptoms. They're currently being tested and are in self-isolation.

One of the symptomatic family members is a student at Logan Park High School in Dunedin. Dr Bloomfield says the school is working with education staff and public health officials.

"Our advice to the school is that if the test result is positive, the school is closed for the next 48 hours while close contacts are traced and put into self-isolation. And all casual contacts - staff and students - are given information about what to do if they become unwell," Dr Bloomfield says.

Dr Bloomfield says they are expecting "more sporadic" cases of COVID-19.

"All our cases to date are associated with international travel. And, as over the last two weeks we have seen a big increase in the number of countries overseas with cases, we will expect more travellers returning to New Zealand to present with symptoms of COVID-19."

He added that the new rules which force all passengers arriving in to New Zealand to self-isolate will be "very helpful" in managing any potential onward transmission of the disease.