The COVID-stricken Air India flight that brought 17 cases to NZ

A group of 17 Kiwi returnees from India have been infected with coronavirus, all of whom were on the same flight that arrived in New Zealand last month.

On August 28, the Ministry of Health confirmed seven imported cases of COVID-19; three men in their 30s, a woman in her 60s, a woman in her 20s, and two children.  

They arrived in New Zealand on the flight in question - an Air India flight from Delhi, on August 23. 

The Ministry said they all tested positive on day three of their stays in managed isolation. 

Since then, another 10 linked to that same flight would become infected.  

The Ministry said on August 29 two more cases were picked up at the border - a woman in her 70s and man in her 30s - who travelled on the Air India flight. 

"Both tested positive on the day three test while at the Grand Millennium in Auckland," the Ministry said. 

Last Tuesday, there were two cases in managed isolation in Auckland; two women in their 20s and 30s, who also arrived on the August 23 flight. 

The remaining four cases of coronavirus connected to the flight were confirmed on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. 

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield on Friday said there were two imported cases in managed isolation facilities - children that were family members of cases on the Air India flight. 

Another imported case on Saturday was confirmed as being another young child linked to a previously confirmed case from the plane. 

The lone imported case confirmed on Sunday was also in an Auckland managed isolation facility, the Ministry said. He was a man in his 20s who arrived on the Air India flight. 

On Monday, two new imported cases - a boy and a woman in her 20s - also arrived on the flight on August 23. Both were close contacts of previously confirmed cases. 

The coronavirus can easily spread through flights as infected people can discharge droplets to people in close proximity. 

"Air travel requires spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring you in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces," the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention says. 

"Social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and you may have to sit near others, sometimes for hours." 

People arriving in New Zealand are required to wear face masks from when the leave the aircraft until they arrive at their managed isolation hotel. 

The number of active COVID-19 cases in New Zealand on Monday increased to 118 - 41 of which were imported and another 77 in the community. 

Four people are in the hospital with coronavirus.