A package containing a small bottle of liquid and some papers with a mention of the Ebola virus were sent to The New Zealand Herald in Auckland, a local newspaper, on Tuesday. Authorities forwarded the bottle to Australia for tests, reports said.
Graeme Walker, a spokesperson for the Victorian Department of Health in Melbourne, confirmed that the bottle was being sent to the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory in the city to determine whether the bottle contained the virus, according to the Herald Sun, a local newspaper. The New Zealand Herald, which received the suspicious package in its mailroom, reported that it could be a hoax while other reports speculated the package may have come from a “jihadist group.”
"As a precaution, the bottle and its contents were secured by police and transferred to ESR where it will be swabbed for DNA and checked for fingerprints before being sent to Melbourne for testing," a statement from the local police in Auckland said earlier, according to TVNZ, adding: "Results are expected within days."
New Zealand’s Ministry of Health assured the public that the package did not pose a threat to the country. Health officials also reportedly reached the office of The New Zealand Herald to assure workers that the risk of contamination from the liquid, if any, was almost negligible.
"Police are often called to deal with and investigate the origins and contents of suspicious packages," Detective Inspector Scott Beard said, according to TVNZ, adding: "The vast majority of them turn out to be benign but we don't take any chances. This is no exception."
The Ebola virus has killed nearly 5,000 people and has affected more than 13,000 people so far, mostly in West Africa.