Coronavirus: Air New Zealand confirms case of infection on Singapore-Auckland flight

The female patient travelled from Singapore to Auckland on flight NZ283 on Feb 25, 2020.
The female patient travelled from Singapore to Auckland on flight NZ283 on Feb 25, 2020.PHOTO: AIR NEW ZEALAND/FACEBOOK

SINGAPORE - Air New Zealand confirmed on Wednesday (March 4) a case of the new coronavirus on a Feb 25 flight from Singapore to Auckland.

"The customer travelled from Singapore to Auckland on flight NZ283 on 25 February, then flew from Auckland to Palmerston North on flight NZ5103 on 2 March, returning to Auckland on NZ8114 the same day," the airline said in a travel alert posted on its website.

"We are working closely with the Ministry of Health and government agencies to identify and proactively contact customers who travelled on the Singapore service and the two regional flights."

The female patient was returning from a holiday in northern Italy - which has seen a spike in infections - and was in isolation at home, according to New Zealand media.

Air New Zealand Chief Medical Officer Doctor Ben Johnston said the airline had anticipated and planned for the scenario and had a robust process to manage its response, according to Airlineratings.com, an airline safety and product rating review website.

"The health and safety of passengers and crew is Air New Zealand’s top priority and our aircraft already undergo a thorough cleaning process, which includes cleaning surfaces such as tray tables and inflight entertainment screens with a disinfectant that kills viruses.

"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.

"The three aircraft this customer flew on will now also undergo a deep clean."

Singapore said on Tuesday it will begin to ban the entry or transit in Singapore of travellers who have been to northern Italy, South Korea and Iran – three countries that recorded the most coronavirus cases outside mainland China – within the last 14 days from 11.59pm on Wednesday, as the Republic ramps up its fight against the spread of the virus. 

 
 
 

The Ministry of Health said northern Italy refers to eight administrative regions: Aosta Valley, Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol.

As of 8.20am on Wednesday, there are 5,186 cases and 34 deaths in South Korea, 2,502 cases and 79 deaths in Italy, and 2,336 cases and 77 deaths in Iran, according to coronavirus outbreak tracking website Worldometer. 

Singapore has so far reported 110 cases with no deaths. New Zealand has one confirmed case.