New Zealand should expect more one-off COVID-19 cases in the community - expert

The announcement of a new COVID-19 case in the community on Sunday isn't something to panic about, with an expert saying there's likely to be more one-off cases.

According to Michael Plank, a modeller from the University of Canterbury, the risk of community transmission from Sunday's case is "low".

"We'll know more in a few days when genome testing comes in - but it sounds like they haven't had a lot of close contacts which is good," he says.

Sunday's case is a man who works aboard vessels in ports across New Zealand. He was already being tested fortnightly as his job is considered high risk, and was due to be tested when he developed respiratory symptoms on Friday. 

The man immediately left work and got tested on his way home before self-isolating. His four family members are in isolation and a ship full of workers considered to be close contacts is being monitored by public health workers in Napier. 

"It seems as though the potential for onward transmission has been largely contained," Plank told Newshub on Sunday.

He says chances are, cases like this one will continue to pop up sporadically.

"I think we should expect more cases like this one - it hasn't come completely from nowhere it's come through the border."

While it is disconcerting when cases are announced, Plank says it's the best-case scenario - as it appears to have a link to the border.

"If we had something pop up with no links to the border that would be a lot more concerning."