Wuhan coronavirus: Unconfirmed reports of infected person in NZ

A medical staff member walks outside Jinyintan hospital in Wuhan, China, where patients infected by the coronavirus are being treated. Image: RNZ/STR/AFP

By RNZ News

New Zealand health authorities are following up reports of a person with coronavirus in the southern New Zealand tourism city of Queenstown.

RNZ UPDATE: Reports of a suspected case in Queenstown earlier today turned out to be a false alarm.

The novel coronavirus, known as 2019-nCoV, has infected 2800 people and killed at least 80 in China. The outbreak is believed to have emerged late last year from illegally traded wildlife at an animal market in Wuhan, Hubei.

A small number of cases linked to people who travelled from Wuhan have been confirmed in more than 10 countries, including Australia, Thailand, France, Japan and the United States where authorities said they had 110 people under investigation in 26 states.

READ MORE: RNZ global updates on coronavirus

Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield told RNZ Morning Report that local health authorities were following up reports of a person with coronavirus in Queenstown.

The Ministry of Health had heard “through the grapevine” about the case but there was no confirmation.

Dr Bloomfield said a throat swab could be taken and sent to Melbourne for testing if deemed necessary by health professionals.

‘Well-developed protocol’
“We’ve got a really well-developed protocol and case definition for anyone who may be a possible or suspected case … so any clinician or public health unit staff member who is checking someone to see if they may be a case will be following that protocol.”

He said any results from samples sent to Australia could be expected within days.

“We’re using the lab there at the moment and working towards being able to do the test onshore here later this week.”

He said there was no confirmation either on whether the person was a tourist but they had been staying at a hotel.

The Rees Hotel in Queenstown posted to its Facebook page saying it had received rumours that there was an outbreak of coronavirus at the hotel.

“Please note that these rumours are unfounded and untrue as there has been no outbreak of the virus in New Zealand,” the Facebook message said.

This article is published under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.

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