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Second coronavirus case confirmed in New Zealand; Air NZ passengers and two schools notified

A second case of the new coronavirus has been confirmed in New Zealand. It has infected a woman returning from virus-struck northern Italy.

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Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield addressed media from Wellington today. Source: 1 NEWS

She also travelled between Auckland and Palmerston North before her diagnosis, with Air New Zealand saying they're contacting people in close contact with her on any of the three flights.

Two Auckland schools have been notified and her partner is also being tested for Covid-19.

The World Health Organization confirmed the case in its daily update on Covid-19, shortly before the Ministry of Health addressed media this morning.

WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE CASE

The woman has mild-to-moderate symptoms and is self-isolating at home, Ministry of Health Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield told media today.

Her symptoms aren't severe enough to need hospitalisation but she's being assisted by medical services.

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The announcement late this morning came after the first case was confirmed on Friday. Source: 1 NEWS

Her partner is also showing symptoms and is being tested for the disease, Dr Bloomfield says. 

Their two children, who attend Westlake Boys and Westlake Girls high schools in Auckland's North Shore, are also isolating themselves but are not showing symptoms, according to Dr Bloomfield and the Auckland Regional Public Health Service.

Those two were not in Italy and the self-isolation is being taken as a precaution, with the schools alerted.

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Science educator Michelle Dickinson has some ideas. Source: Seven Sharp

The woman and her partner arrived in Auckland from Singapore on February 25, on Air New Zealand flight NZ0283, on their return from Italy.

On Monday, she also flew to Palmerston North on flight NZ5103, then back to Auckland on flight NZ8114.

People who were near them are being contacted, but anyone on the flights who are concerned should contact Healthline.

In a letter sent out today, the Auckland Regional Public Health Service asked parents at the Westlake schools to speak to their children and make sure they knew they weren't at risk.

"There will be high levels of anxiety amongst parents and students… Please explain to your children that the students do not have Covid-19 and that they have no exposed anyone else to the virus," says the letter, supplied to 1 NEWS by the Ministry of Education.

Parents are also asked to make sure their kids don't post anything on social media "as this could lead to bullying".

DON'T PANIC, AUCKLAND MAYOR PHIL GOFF SAYS

Both cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand are in Auckland, but Mayor Phil Goff says people need to stay calm.

"Like the first case, this was a Kiwi returning home from a trip overseas and not due to community transmission of the virus," he said today.

"The Ministry of Health says that the risk of a community outbreak remains low.

"Aucklanders should continue to take simple, practical precautions: regularly wash and dry your hands, use hand sanitizer and follow any guidance from the Ministry of Health."

Mr Goff says isolated cases are expected and there's a national pandemic plan in place, if the virus continues to spread.

AIR NEW ZEALAND PLANES TO UNDERGO 'DEEP CLEAN'

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Sick leave was also raised as an issue unions are concerned about. Source: 1 NEWS

In its own statement to media today, Air New Zealand said the three aircraft the woman flew on will undergo a "deep clean".

Chief medical officer Dr Ben Johnston says the planes already undergo a "thorough cleaning process", including disinfecting tray tables and inflight entertainment screens.

"We also remove all headsets, headrest covers, pillow covers and blankets after every international flight. Domestic and regional services' surfaces and bathrooms are wiped with disinfectant spray."

He confirmed that the airline is "working closely" with the Ministry of Health to identify and contact other passengers.

GLOBAL OUTBREAK TOPS 90,000 INFECTED

It comes after the first case was diagnosed on Friday, a person returning from Iran - one of the virus hotspots - via Bali.

That person is recovering in Auckland Hospital and is in a stable condition.

While these are the first two cases on New Zealand soil, two other New Zealanders are also being treated in Japan after being diagnosed with the virus while on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

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Simon Wallace of NZ Aged Care Association is calling for a national action plan. Source: Breakfast

The other New Zealanders who were on board the ship are currently undergoing a quarantine at Whangaparāoa.

Travel restrictions are in place for Iran and China, where the virus originated and which remains the worst-hit region.

While they're not restricted from entering New Zealand, travellers from northern Italy and South Korea are asked to isolated themselves for 14 days in case they're infected with Covid-19, as those nations also have a major outbreak.

There are 90,870 confirmed cases of Covid-19 globally and 3112 people have died, according to the World Health Organization today.