COVID-19: Jacinda Ardern confident New Zealand 'equipped to deal' with coronavirus amid second case

COVID-19: Jacinda Ardern confident New Zealand 'equipped to deal' with coronavirus amid second case
Photo credit: Newshub / Zane Small

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is confident New Zealand is "equipped to deal" with COVID-19 as a second case of the virus is confirmed and two Auckland schools are on alert. 

A woman in her 30s was confirmed on Wednesday as New Zealand's second case of COVID-19, or coronavirus, after she travelled to Auckland from northern Italy, where the virus is now widespread. 

Ardern told reporters she "absolutely understands" New Zealanders are "looking out at what is a global situation and thinking about the impacts on New Zealand" but she said New Zealand is "equipped to deal" with it. 

She said Kiwis have a role to play in keeping the virus at bay, such as practising "good hygiene, staying home when you're unwell, making sure they wash their hands, catch their cough - those are all things that make a difference". 

The woman in her 30s has been in self-isolation in her home, the Ministry of Health said, and the process has begun to contact people on the flight she took from Singapore to Auckland. 

She had been in northern Italy, where the coronavirus has spread rapidly, with 79 deaths confirmed so far, and more than 2000 confirmed cases. 

She has family members who attend two large schools in Auckland, Westlake Boys and Westlake Girls, and both of the schools have been contacted and are on alert. 

The family members who attend those two schools are not showing symptoms, however, and are now at home and in isolation. They did not travel to Italy, are both well and are being monitored. 

Education Minister Chris Hipkins told reporters his message to parents and school communities is "there is no cause for alarm". 

"The schools have got this in hand, they're being well-supported by the Ministry of Education, and support from health officials if they need it," Hipkins said. 

"There is very, very, very, very, very low probability of it having been transmitted to the schools. The two students concerned show no signs of having been infected.

"They have no symptoms and therefore the risk of transmission is incredibly low."