COVID-19: 'No evidence' Northland case a sex worker - Jacinda Ardern

There's no evidence to support claims a COVID-infected woman who illegally crossed the Auckland-Northland boundary last week is a sex worker, the Prime Minister says.

Jacinda Ardern also reiterates there's nothing to indicate the woman is linked to gangs, despite her former Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters making the claims at the weekend - and renewing his suspicions on Monday.

Northland entered a snap COVID-19 alert level 3 lockdown on Friday night after the woman apparently used false travel documents to enter the region and subsequently tested positive for the virus.

But following speculation the woman was a sex worker, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday there was nothing to support that claim.

"There's been no evidence to suggest that's the case here," Ardern told The AM Show, adding she'd been given that advice by the police. 

"Also, that would not be the basis on which someone would be able to travel."

Ardern said the Government hasn't "at this stage, necessarily, been able to fully establish" why the infected woman travelled to Northland. She was accompanied by another person, who Ardern said was also a woman. 

The infected woman, who's now in an Auckland quarantine facility, originally refused to cooperate with authorities. In its media update on Sunday, the Ministry of Health said the second person has yet to be located. 

Ardern said the cooperation from the pair was inadequate.

"That's why we have involved the police in this case and so that's also one of the reasons we have taken a cautious approach. It's incredibly frustrating because you would have seen, in almost every other situation, we do rely on people sharing with us where they have been and what they have been doing, and whom they have been with." 

Instead, she said officials had to rely on other means - including CCTV footage - to track their movements.

Meanwhile, Ardern renewed comments she made at the weekend - saying there's no evidence of gang links to the case after claims made by New Zealand First leader Peters. 

"Was there any association between the Mongrel Mob and these two women? … In terms of the health of Northlanders, we should know that now," Peters told The AM Show on Monday.

Ardern said none of the travel documents used to get into Northland were gang-linked.

Winston Peters.
Winston Peters. Photo credit: Newshub Nation.

"Essentially, none of it relates to claims around working for gangs or anything like that - as far as I am aware."

Prominent Mongrel Mob leader Harry Tam earlier denied any involvement in the matter - and questioned Peters' sources.