COVID-19: Woman in the same hotel as new coronavirus cases 'shocked' at finding out via Ministry of Health press conference

A person quarantined in the same hotel as New Zealand's two new COVID-19 cases says she's been mostly left in the dark about the developments.

The Ministry of Health confirmed two new cases of the respiratory disease on Tuesday after a 24-day run of no cases. The two women were in quarantine having travelled from the UK but were granted compassionate leave to attend a funeral before one of them tested positive.

Selina Eriwata says guests were told by the Novotel in the Auckland suburb of Ellerslie to watch Tuesday afternoon's press conference, where Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield provided further details on the cases.

She told Newshub it was only when a reporter asked Dr Bloomfield which hotel it was when she realised it was the same facility where she was quarantined.

"I just straight away was shocked," she said.

Eriwata also found out she was also on the same flight as the pair after watching Dr Bloomfield's press conference.

"It's like a double whammy," Eriwata said.

"[I was] getting really nervous - and hearing that they're obviously now going to be testing everybody, bearing in mind this is the first that I'm hearing of it at all, and sure enough as soon as it [the press conference] had finished we got the knock at the door."

Eriwata said she and her two children she is quarantining with are feeling healthy.

"Knowing that the two women who were here actually left here on the 10th [of June], which is six days ago, kind of gives us a little bit more comfort," she told Newshub.

The Novotel referred Newshub's request for comment to Auckland Council, and queries were then referred to the Ministry of Health. The ministry has been approached for a response.

A letter to guests from ministry regional health lead Jo Elvidge, seen by Newshub, asked those staying at the hotel to stay in their rooms until everyone had been tested.

The Novotel Auckland Ellerslie Hotel.
The Novotel Auckland Ellerslie Hotel. Photo credit: Google

"We know that this is an unsettling time for you and appreciate your understanding and cooperation," the letter says.

"Please rest assured your health and wellbeing is our primary concern.

"Testing of all guests will be undertaken over the course of the next 24 hours and our staff will be in touch to let you know the process for this." 

On Tuesday night, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the circumstances in which the two new cases emerged were "unacceptable".

"The testing of those individuals was done outside of their isolation facility," she said in a Facebook live video. "That does not meet our expectations."

Other potential contacts with the two cases include those who flew on a Brisbane to Auckland flight on June 7 and those who were housed in the same managed isolation facility.

Staff from the hotel who came in close contact with the cases will be stood down and tested, while CCTV footage from Auckland International Airport is now being reviewed to see if any border officials came in close contact.

Health Minister Dr David Clark announced later on Tuesday afternoon that all-compassionate exemptions would be suspended.