Coronavirus: Warning from farmer living in remote South Island valley

COVID-19 managed to infect one of New Zealand's remotest communities. 

Newshub has learned it reached the Lillburn Valley, which sits between Southland and Fiordland. A farmer has a warning about how easily the bug can travel.

Farming Hereford cattle in the deep south is about as remote as it gets. 

That's just the way that Jamie King likes it.

"We live in our own permanent bubble almost up here," he says.

Despite this, the coronavirus still managed to make its way here. And it was also lucky that they ever found out.

"I was asymptomatic. I would never have known I had contracted anything. It would have been business as usual."

He and partner Nicole were at the Wanaka A&P show, at a young Hereford Breeders competition and came into contact with someone from the World Hereford Conference, which turned into one of New Zealand's biggest clusters.

Nicole felt the tiniest bit sick and she decided to get a test just in case.

"I dragged him along. [Jamie] very nearly missed it because [he was] out on the farm and I was going to leave without [him]," Nicole says.

"Both of us got a test. I tested positive and dearest-beloved tested negative," Jamie says.

"I got stuck with case number 200 in New Zealand."

He went straight next to work.

"The next day I got up, carried on shifting my baleage and chasing my cows."

The problem was, he'd spent over a week carrying COVID-19 around.

"It wasn't a very nice feeling at all. Being told you are running around with this bug. Highly contagious and you've got no idea it is in your body," he says.

But lucky once again because the Lillburn Valley, which leads into Lake Hauroko and deserted Fiordland is pretty quiet. 

"As remote as we are, and doing what we do, and if I was around a lot more people, it could have gone a whole lot worse," Jamie says.

"That's probably a big factor in why I haven't been very sharing with the COVID-19."

In fact, he did not share it with anyone at all

"I am pleased I didn't spread it." 

But as the rest of the country opens up, Jamie says be vigilant because COVID-19 might just be lingering in asymptomatic people. He reckons if you are worried - get a test.

"If people don't be stupid about it, it should stay contained. Wash your hands. Use a bit of sanitiser. Stay clean and away we go."

Be careful, because very few of us live in a bubble like this.

Contact Newshub with your story tips:
news@newshub.co.nz