COVID-19: Unclear if new case's family left the house during self-isolation - Dr Bloomfield

The Director-General of Health has revealed it's unclear if the family of New Zealand's new community COVID-19 case adhered to their self-isolation.

At a press conference at 1pm on Tuesday, Dr Ashley Bloomfield and COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced the new case is a casual-plus contact from Papatoetoe High School.

"The student lives in a household bubble of six people, with a sibling who also attends Papatoetoe High [School] but has also not been at school," Dr Bloomfield said.

"Testing for all of those other family members is currently underway with a mobile testing unit that's gone out. Public health staff are, right at the moment, interviewing both the family and the new case and we will provide updates during the afternoon if any locations of interest emerge where we need to send a notification out for potential casual plus or close contacts to isolate and be tested."

But the statement concerned reporters, who questioned why there could be locations of interest considering the family should have been self-isolating at home.

The Government last week had asked students and contacts of the school to stay in isolation until they have returned a negative COVID-19 test due to the risk of someone contracting the virus.

But Dr Bloomfield remained coy.

"The student is in a family of six and all of those family members are being tested and we may find, none of them in my understanding are symptomatic at the moment, they are being tested. If we find that any of them have a positive test, then there may be locations of interest and we will notify those as soon as we know."

The Ministry of Health and the Government were alerted to the case mid-Tuesday morning, and Dr Bloomfield said it takes time to get answers about the family's whereabouts.

"Obviously a diagnosis of COVID-19 in a family is something that takes people a bit of time to actually understand and get to grips with, it comes as a shock. Often in that first interview, it's talking about what this means. Then there is subsequent follow-up interviews over the next hours that then go into the details of people's movements."

He urged Kiwis to be kind to the family online.

"What I can say though is that it is not helpful for anyone to pass judgement on what other people are doing. What we have seen from this school community is really high levels of support and cooperation. The fact that this student did go and get tested and didn't go back to school shows that there was a level of awareness there."

Hipkins reiterated the message.

"I'm aware of the reaction that these types of cases generate on social media and the last thing that we want is people reluctant to come forward and be tested, or come forward with the information we need because they don't want to subject themselves to that," he said.

"So my message to the people who are watching is: hold back, demonstrate a little bit of kindness. The investigation process will get to the bottom of any more risk that might be out there."