New Zealand parliament, newspaper sent bottle labelled Ebola

New Zealand's parliament mailroom was in lockdown Tuesday after it was sent a bottle claiming to contain a sample of the Ebola virus just hours after a newsroom in Auckland received a similar package, police said. -- PHOTO: AFP
New Zealand's parliament mailroom was in lockdown Tuesday after it was sent a bottle claiming to contain a sample of the Ebola virus just hours after a newsroom in Auckland received a similar package, police said. -- PHOTO: AFP

WELLINGTON (AFP) - New Zealand's parliament mailroom was in lockdown Tuesday after it was sent a bottle claiming to contain a sample of the Ebola virus just hours after a newsroom in Auckland received a similar package, police said.

Police were called to parliament in Wellington after the mailroom discovered a package containing a plastic bottle and documents that claimed that the liquid in the vial was a sample of the deadly Ebola virus.

The package was secured by police with the help of the army's explosive ordnance disposal team after it was found, police said in a statement, adding that the bottle was sent for forensic testing.

The mailroom was in lockdown during the operation, the New Zealand Herald reported, citing police.

The newspaper had called police to their mailroom Tuesday morning to investigate a similar package containing a small plastic bottle and some documents, one of which mentioned Ebola.

Police said that the liquid in a plastic bottle had been transferred to Australia to be tested for the virus, which has so far claimed more than 4,960 lives mostly in West Africa.

Police said they were working to establish whether there was a link between the packages.

"An initial examination of the package (sent to parliament) has shown it may be similar to a package received in Auckland this morning which referenced Ebola," police said. "Police are often called to deal with and investigate the origins and contents of suspicious packages," Detective Inspector Scott Beard said about the earlier incident.

"The vast majority of them turn out to be benign but we don't take any chances. This is no exception."