In New Zealand, people are receiving a text message, claiming to be from the Ministry of Health Coronavirus contact tracing team. The receivers of these text messages apparently from the number 338 revealed that they were asked to call the Pizza Hut number.

As per the screenshot of the text message, it reports to "COVID CONTACT TRACING" and asks receivers to "Pls Call 0800 83 83 83 immediately." The message, claiming to be from the ministry, adds that "You may have contact with an active covid-19 case. MOH NZ."

The Scam

Internet Connection
Coronavirus scam Pixabay

As reported by The Herald, a receiver of the message sent the screenshot to the news organization after receiving it at 10.40 pm on Saturday, August 15.

Later, when the news agency contacted New Zealand's Ministry of Health the officials explained that the official contact tracing sends a text message to the citizens in advance to let them know that they will be receiving a call from a specified 09 number within half an hour. But the official text from the team never requests a callback.

As per the MOH website, anyone who is identified as a close contact of a COVID-19 patient can expect a call from the ministry or the local District Health Board's Public Health Unit (PHU). The website also says that:

We call this 'contact tracing'. Contact tracing involves a phone call from the Ministry or PHU providing you with advice on self-isolation and checking on your health and wellbeing. The Ministry call center staff will identify themselves and inform you that they are calling from the National Close Contact Service. They will also verify your name and contact details. These calls from Ministry call center staff will usually come from 09 801 3009 and 09 801 3010.

The details for contact tracing on the MOH website also include that the following the initial phone call from the officials, the details of the citizen may be passed onto the Healthline who will then make follow up calls during the isolation period of the particular person to check the improvement.

The website also adds that "the calls from Healthline will usually come from 09 302 0408...[and] If you are concerned that a call from Healthline isn't genuine, you can email Healthline and request a callback."

However, such scams are not new as many reports revealed how scammers are taking the opportunity of this vulnerable situation. Earlier, reports claimed that a few weeks ago fake advertisements of a vaccine allegedly produced by Sinovac Biotech went viral on social media platform WeChat while asking for only advance payment.

Later, Chinese vaccine producers warned the citizens not to fall for such ads, as the post believed to have created using stolen photos from the official website of the vaccine developer.

New Zealand Coronavirus

Jacinda Ardern
New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern Wikimedia commons

As of Monday, August 17 New Zealand reported 1,631 Coronavirus cases and 22 COVID-19 related deaths. But the big news is after around 100 days without community spread, the country reported the surge of the virus that led to the decision to postpone the election.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that she is delaying the country's parliamentary election by four weeks to October 17 due to the re-emergence of Coronavirus in the country. In Auckland, the government introduced strict level three lockdown measures on August 12, while the rest of the country was put under level two lockdown.