Ministry of Health confirms two new Covid-19 cases had contact with friends during drive

The Ministry of Health has confirmed tonight the two new Covid-19 cases had been in contact with two others during their drive from Auckland to Wellington, but says there isn’t a risk to the community.

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Officials earlier had said they travellers from the UK had contact with only one family member after they were released from isolation early. Source: 1 NEWS

The Ministry of Health said the two women from the UK left Novotel in Ellerslie, Auckland in a private vehicle provided by friends.

The pair were headed from Auckland to Wellington for the funeral of a family member after being allowed by authorities to leave quarantine before their quarantine period was finished.

Official protocol dictated that the women should have been tested for Covid-19 before leaving quarantine, but this did not happen.

After leaving the hotel in Auckland the pair got lost on an Auckland motorway.

The Health Ministry said the women then phoned the friends who provided the vehicle. Two friends then “met and guided them to the correct motorway so they could go in the right direction”.

“As part of this the pair were in limited physical contact with the two friends for approximately five minutes,” the Ministry said.

Both of the friends were contacted by local health authorities for a health check and are currently in self-isolation. Both had a Covid-19 test upon hearing of the womens’ positive results.

Health authorities said they had also been informed of instances where friends of the two women who tested positive for Covid-19 “made contactless deliveries of food or care packages”. 

This was “in recent days” while the women were in self-isolation, the Ministry said.

“These packages were contactless deliveries and the friends who have delivered the packages have taken all appropriate precautions to maintain physical distance. 

“As such there is no risk to the community from these interactions.”

The confirmation follows an allegation made by National MP Michael Woodhouse in the House today. 

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Michael Woodhouse says the women gave “Good Samaritans” a hug and a kiss when they helped with directions. Source: 1 NEWS

He said he received information from a confidential source “that the story of an uninterrupted trip from Auckland to Wellington was not accurate".

More details revealed around claim two new Covid-19 cases had close contacts during drive

Former police commissioner Mike Bush, who leads the all-of-Government response to Covid-19, later told RNZ today he was aware of Mr Woodhouse’s claim but would inform anyone potentially involved first before sharing details with the public.

Yesterday, the Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said the women didn’t have contact with anyone else

"They did not use any public facilities and were with a single family member."

Dr Bloomfield also said potential contacts of the two women were 320 people on the same Air New Zealand flight from Brisbane and those in the same isolation facility in Auckland.

The Ministry of Health said the additional information released tonight was gathered as part of a second interview it conducted with the two women last night and today. It was informed of this information this afternoon.

Women who tested positive for Covid-19 interviewed again, as claims emerge they had close contacts on Auckland to Wellington drive

“It is important to remember that the two women were distressed at the time by the sudden death of their family member.  

“It is not uncommon for information and details to evolve, including details being missed during case interviews and contact tracing where there is heightened emotion, intense grief and stress.”