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Auckland man whose family visited Iran confirmed as NZ's third coronavirus victim

New Zealand's third case of coronavirus is an Auckland resident in his 40s who had close family recently return from Iran. 

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The patient is unrelated to the woman who was confirmed to have the illness yesterday. Source: Breakfast

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield told media this afternoon he suspects it was a case of family transmission.

"There is what appears to be a clear link with travel to Iran by a close family member. Our view remains that with continued vigilance the chance of widespread community outbreak remains low."

The man is in self-isolation "with appropriate clinical support from public health and district health board staff".

"He doesn’t require hospital level care and neither does anyone else in the home."

Dr Bloomfield said the man's partner has a mild illness and a swab had been taken.

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The six Kiwi Diamond Princess cruise ship passengers have been in quarantine in Auckland for 14 days. Source: 1 NEWS

"Three other members of the man’s family had previously been unwell, none seriously. They have now fully recovered and are with him in self-isolation."

Public health staff are tracking down people who were in close contact on the same flight as the man's family members, which was Qatar QR0920 Doha to Auckland that departed on February 22 and arrived in Auckland on February 23. 

"Anyone who was on this flight and is concerned or would like information should contact the Healthline number 0800 358 5453."

Two schools, Auckland Grammar and Ormiston Junior College, are being notified as the man has family members that attend the schools. The students are in isolation and have no symptoms. Dr Bloomfield said there was no risk to staff or students at the schools. 

It is the first time a confirmed case in New Zealand reportedly contracted coronavirus inside the country, rather than directly  from overseas.

Dr Bloomfield said the family member of the third confirmed case, the man in his 40s, "who had been in Iran did not have any symptoms on the plane and developed some very mild symptoms a couple of days after returning to New Zealand".

When asked to confirm that family member had coronavirus, Dr Bloomfield said, “there’s a very clear epidemiological link… They’ve come back, they’re living in the same household, so there’s been transmission from one person to another”.

"The person who travelled back from Iran is a probable case. The implication is they had been infected with coronavirus, developed a mild illness when they got back and there’s been transmission in the family to the person who is the third case."

Dr Bloomfield said that person had not been tested for coronavirus as they "test people who have symptoms".

He said there was a detailed account of what each family member had done since the person came back from Iran, and "appropriate action" was being undertaken.

"These are Kiwi families affected by a virus that is part of a worldwide outbreak," Dr Bloomfield said. "What they need is support and understanding. Our task is to ensure they have all the support and healthcare they need."

A second case was confirmed yesterday morning. The woman infected had travelled to Auckland from Singapore and northern Italy on February 26, and between Auckland and Palmerston North.

Health Minister David Clark said the third case was not the woman's partner, who is reportedly showing symptoms. Results of that person's tests are expected today.

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It comes as a third case was announced this morning. Source: 1 NEWS

Iran and Italy have seen two of the largest coronavirus outbreaks outside of China. 

In Iran, there have been more than 2900 cases reported, with 92 deaths, though critics of the secretive government have expressed fears the outbreak there is much bigger. Italy, considered the epicentre of Europe's outbreak, has seen 3000 cases reported and 107 deaths.